Day 14- The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts by Neha Mediratta

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We're diving into structure and character today with this prompt from Neha Mediratta

The Prompt

Write a short story about an accident from the PoV of three different characters:

  1. involved in the accident (e.g. as a passenger or driver of a cart or cycle/bike or car/plane or spaceship),
  2. witnessing the accident ( e.g. as agent who tried to avoid or confront the accident as it happens),
  3. trying to put pieces of what really happened when investigating (e.g. could be a public figure like a police officer or a person just coming to terms personally with this incident).

The playing rules here are to

a) develop our practice muscles to inhabit different perspectives.
b) dig deeply into a small but decisive moment.
c) convey a final impression of the whole (i.e. The End) with the help of three different characters in the compact space of a short story.

And most of all, have fun writing!

Neha Mediratta

Neha is a generalist currently obsessed with stretching, mind-body-world connection and the spirit’s dwelling place. She writes fiction, non-fiction, takes on editing assignments and works with people she admires. She lives by a lake in an overcrowded coastal city with her family and some wildlife. Check out her writing here

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19 thoughts on “Day 14- The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts by Neha Mediratta”

  1. I liked this approach. It yielded an immediate understanding of how a story can be approached differently. Thanks for the prompt!

  2. I had so much fun taking my Vulcan character and his human family back to fictional Carbon Creek, PA, where he was first stranded on Earth thirty years prior!

    And, yes, I’m late getting here – very late! But the story was written and posted on time. =)

    1. And, yup… posted the wrong dance, too!

      The story I ACTUALLY wrote for this one was from the perspective of a child who broke their mother’s favorite vase, the child taking the blame for the vase, the Vulcan father trying to figure it out, the third child, who knows more than he’ll say – and the mother who comes home to minor tragedy and unexpected surprise sweetness.

  3. I owe a big thanks to Julie for setting up this May story a day challenge. I have learned an awful lot from using these prompts. Sometimes, like this morning after I read the prompt, I have a very hard time coming up with a story. But, being determined that I promised myself to write one every day, I keep thinking about it. Once I come up with an idea and start writing, the characters start to come alive. This evening, after I finished my story, I started thinking about its theme. Theme has always been a hard thing for me to grasp. Tonight after I finished my story, I saw what I thought was its theme. But then, still thinking about, I realized a better theme, which entails adding a few more things into my story.

    I wrote about a nurse driving home from a 12 hour shift driving 100 in the fast lane. In her rendition of the story when she’s thinking about what happened when a driver swerved in front of her on the freeway, she doesn’t take her speed into account as she’s thinking of how she hit him and ended up here with a seemingly minor head injury.

    My second character was the witness who narrowly escaped being hit. She will have to miss work to testify since this will turn into a court case, since the nurse, who was expected to recover, dies, and the unlicensed juvenile she hit will be tried for her death. The witness will have a hard time getting by with no salary during the court case, but wants to do the right thing and testify.

    The third character is the policewoman who surveyed the scene and it turned out both drivers had been intoxicated. She has seen too many intoxicated drivers who ruined their lives by drinking and driving, and she never gets over the waste of lives that causes.

    I’m still thinking about the theme and how to incorporate it. I “think” the theme could be two examples of people who want to help regardless of what hassles this will add to their lives (the witness and the cop), and the second example, of people blaming everyone else for everything (the nurse did, as well as the teen and his parents as they go through trial). Haha, now I’m asking myself, “Is this really a theme? Responsible people vs irresponsible people?” If you are reading this and have a minute, I’d be grateful to hear what you think about the theme.

  4. Cut it awfully close today (posting this at nearly 11 PM local time), but Day 14 is in the books!

  5. A good prompt for doing multiple POV’s. Wasn’t as motivated today, but once I started, wrote 672 words. The three points of view were the witness, the driver who caused the accident and the policeman taking the report.

  6. No complete story today, but scant notes and then more detailed notes for a story I’m really excited to write – in June! Thanks for a great prompt, Neha.

  7. In between chores, cards, flowers, and phone calls, I was able to sneak in a 500-word story.
    Day 14 is in the books!

  8. I decided not to go with an accident for this story’s event. But, I did write an event from 3 different POVs. I stuck with my selkies for this one, though a couple years down the line from the last one. Ronan sees the trouble coming for them and knows they need to get out of there, the antagonist is coming for them and having dastardly thoughts, and Muiren comes back home and finds her home burned, and her spouse(Ronan) and children gone and told they must be dead, but she’s determined to learn the truth and find her family. And that’s where I ended it. I’ll probably extend this at some point, or pick up with that search for another story. But, for now, I’m calling it done.

  9. Possibly my favorite prompt yet! It certainly resulted in one of my favorite stories I’ve written so far for this challenge. I had the three different POVs divided by scene breaks and also did a little jumping around in time to tell the full story, starting with the witness seeing the accident, then the POV of the person who wants answers meeting with that witness a few days later, and then lastly jumping back to just before the accident from the POV of the person involved in the accident.

  10. I enjoyed this prompt, and it was especially challenging because I don’t often switch POV.

    I also based mine on a near-miss with a semi (also based on real life)! I’m glad yours didn’t have a real life tragic ending, Brenda, although the twist sounds interesting.

    The first part of my story was from the point of view of the driver who decided to try to pass in a hilly no-passing zone. Then at the moment of collision or near-collision I went a few seconds earlier, to the POV of the driver they were passing, up to the part after the collision/near-collision, where they gathered their wits to get out of their car and see what the damage to the other two vehicles was. And then I went to a few days later, a kid who lives nearby coming across the skid marks and broken mirror glass and trying to figure out from that whether the drivers and passengers were okay. I didn’t answer that question in any of the POVs *rubs hands together villainously*

  11. Another prompt that really taught me something. My story was about a Coast Guard officer investigating a fatal collision between a cabin cruiser and a sailboat. Structurally, I made the investigator the narrator, who took statements from someone who experienced the collision, and another person who tried to avoid it, and in doing so cause it. I see Rathin wrote three separate short pieces from the different points of view. I’d be interested to know how others chose to incorporate the three POVs.

    1. mine was in several POV’s. A narrator, two passengers and an outsider. It was about a car that almost gets hit by a semi-truck (true story ~ write what you know) with a tragic ending, even though the truck missed them (not a true story ~ just a twist that I added)

  12. (Sometimes I write in such a frenzy that even the prompt becomes imperative to me! I hope that I got it right this time. Your honest feedback will be my reward.)
    The Officer, Me and The Frenzy
    (1) My Version of the Collision
    I was standing on the roof of the lorry with a few relatives and friends. One of the elders shouted out, “Balo, Balo Durga Mai Ki” (Hail to Goddess Durga) and we joined in the chorus,”Joi (Hail Her).” My brothers were busy lending a hand to all those helpers trying to get the image of Goddess Durga off the lorry for the immersion. Then we would all go to the Babughat Ghat for the image to be immersed in the Ganges.

    Sad (as The Puja got finally over), I was standing on the roof watching the lights around the area come to life. Our lorry was perked by the ghat. Nearby, in the centre of the road, there was an enclosed island with a statue on a raised dias.There was a vast stretch of road running in the east-west direction.The island connected another road from the GPO, heading towards Babughat from the north. I was thinking of jumping from the roof by the side of the driver’s door and joining the rest, when my eyes chanced upon the bus coming from the east-west direction.

    I must have been drawn to the bus by the sudden screech. I saw the driver serving the bus a few yards from the island towards the road to the GPO. I only saw the bike hammering into the bus then as the rider lost hold on the brakes and was flung off. The next moment the rider fell down as the giant wheel of the bus ran over him. I just stood on the roof shaken to the core by what I had just seen. But I was completely unprepared for what happened next. A mascular, rough youth, a passenger may be, was collaring the conductor and pulling him out of the bus. The bus was left stranded near the island with the body of the bike-rider lying still in front of the front wheels now. I saw the bus driver jumping from the window and running away like mad to save himself from the frenzied crowd. And what about the conductor?
    I saw him being pushed, smacked, squashed by the crowd. They went berserk. In a matter of minutes, the hapless boy was lying on the ground with the maddening crowd hitting him, kicking him like they wanted him dead!
    Everything happened in a short span of a minute or two. When I saw the conductor trying to get up inorder to save himself from the barrage of blows and kicks, with blood running down the corner of his mouth. I was overcome with an unspeakable fury. I wanted to fight with the muscle man who went on kicking him on the face,non-stop, with his boot.
    I had jumped off the roof and, on getting up, was about to run to the scene of the melee, when someone put a firm hand on my shoulders from behind.
    “Let me go, lemme save the poor man. Can’t you see how crazy those people are? What is the conductor’s fault?”
    But my Uncle just kept on shaking his head as I tried to break loose, yelling and crying at the same time……

    (2) The Driver’s

    He looked tensed. The days of the Immersion were always a big headache. Driving the Route 39 Bus around Babughat posed the toughest problem even for an expert driver like him. There was a sea of people, including those white-skinned people from other parts of the world, near the ghat. They were busy clicking photos of the images of the Goddess. There were media people taking pictures of the housewives in red and white saris with vermilion all over their faces and children holding balloons in their hands dancing to the drum-beats of the dhakis (drummers) near their lorries. Some journalist even went to the extent of interviewing some of those onlookers who looked dazed.
    The traffic police were there, forming a barricade at the entrance of the ghat, with a tape in their hands trying to stop the invaders from getting anywhere near the ghat, while some were desperately trying to control the influx of the vehicles coming from all directions.
    He had been honking all along to keep the people away. He had nearly reached the end point. All he had to do was to drive along for some ten yards or so and turn right to the terminus. Then his job would have been done. But for a couple of passengers, the bus was empty. Without reducing the speed, he thought of covering the few yards fast, past the crazy crowds, before turning right and perking the car to safety.
    The bike came upon the bus out of nowhere. By the time he had noticed the bike-rider with the fear of death in his eyes, it was too late. Even then, he made one last, desperate attempt to save the onrushing bike by swerving the bus towards the right side of the island.
    He had no recollection of the collision and the subsequent screech of the bus as he brought it to a halt. Then fear overtook him. Fear for his life and safety. On turning his head, he saw the young chap of the conductor who had been recruited just the previous week, being pulled out of the bus.

    He had very little time. He swiftly turned the door ajar and jumped off. He landed on his toes as someone was running around the bus, charging at him.
    The panicky driver ran thinking of his promise to his daughter earlier in the day – the promise of coming home early and taking her to her granny’s…..

    (3) The Officer’s

    “You said you were the last man to get off the bus, didn’t you?” The Officer in all white, asked the hefty youth.
    The youth, his biceps showing under his rolled up sleeves, with some strains of blood on his shirt and boot, nodded hesitatingly.
    “What exactly did you see?Would you mind telling me and being a witness?” The Officer enquired in a friendly voice.
    “What does that mean?” The youth asked, unrolling the sleeve of his left hand. “You should have chased that swine…., I mean, that rascal. It was all his fault. I saw the whole scene from my seat behind his…”
    “Would you swear to that in a court of law? Would you swear to the driver being the prima facie culprit for the accident?” The Officer kept his eyes fixed on the man while asking the questions.
    “Yes, I saw him driving the bus towards the bike. He’s the one responsible for the death of the bike-rider..” The man seemed to be in a fury recalling the incident.
    “Do you mind telling me what you were doing at that time?” The Officer questioned him in a calm voice.
    “Who, me? I was looking at the bike coming from the opposite end..” he answered.
    “You were watching the bus driver jamming the bus into the bike without trying to save your life?” The Officer held the man’s eyes in an eye lock.
    “Yes, I mean, no… the moment I saw the driver fighting with the brakes, I got down from the bus…”
    “So, you hold the driver responsible for the accident, right? Will you vouch for that in a court?” The Officer repeated the question.
    His walkie-talkie started ringing as an excited voice started speaking incoherently into it.
    “He has been arrested? Good. What? Speak louder. He surrendered? Strange. I’ll be there in a minute.” He turned it off before turning to the youth again.
    “You may be happy to know that the driver has surrendered himself.” The Officer informed the youth. “By the way, why are there blood strains on you boot?” He asked nonchalantly.
    The youth looked down at his boot. The scene of the conductor quaking for the last time due to the heavy onslaughts of his boot before being inert, face down, flashed through his mind.
    “Sir, would you like to be a public witness?” He heard the Officer raising his voice.
    “Sorry, Sir. I’ve an urgent job to do. You can ask some other person involved in the scene. May I go now?”
    The end

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