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Please may I ask for help with a plot detail?

(36 Posts)
FineSally Wed 01-Feb-17 09:10:30

Recent NC
long time lurker on here, regular poster on other boards.

An important plot detail in the novel I'm writing involves the opening up of a sink hole in someone's garden.
(don't laugh, it actually happened to someone I know)

For credibility only, not relevant to the plot... if this was YOUR house, who is the FIRST person you would ring?

The house is owned by a 40-something divorcee, and at the time it happens she has her 19 year old daughter there, who is hysterical.
There are no services (gas, water etc) involved and its not life-threatening, (other than the obvious worry about whether the house is affected)

AllPowerfulLizardPerson Wed 01-Feb-17 10:14:18

I don't know. Fire brigade possibly, to see if they can ascertain how safe it is? Or the environmental bit of the council? Because you need to know if it's stable, whether it could affect neighbouring properties, and what sort of contractor is needed to fix it. Insurance company is another option, as one hopes they'll be able to point you in the right direction (and pay for works)

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Wed 01-Feb-17 10:16:39

Where I am, they'd ask on Facebook or local Facebay. There is nothing they won't ask there, and they would never Google anything that could be asked. They would also like the drama. Is your character like that?

I think normal people would call the council though . . .

MrsHathaway Wed 01-Feb-17 10:17:23

Honestly? I think I'd ring my dad. Because he will always be, in my head, a "more adultier adult" than me.

I think scrabbling for a number for the fire service and having a row with hysterical daughter about whether or not to ring 999 "BUT IT ISN'T A FIRE" would be very plausible too. Or maybe the council.

scaryclown Wed 01-Feb-17 10:21:35

The press! Or a witch doctor ti close the portal, or a scifi friend who knows about the hadron collider, or my daughter who left the tap on once and eroded the cavern in the basement or NASA or my nosey neighbours to say 'hmmph there i tild you the king built secret passages NOW WILL YOU BELIEVE ME.

scaryclown Wed 01-Feb-17 10:23:21

or i wpuld do nothing but wrap myself in a shroud and slide diwn the childrens slide into the welcome goodnight muttering about 'its time' and 'i said for a hole to open and swallow me it is'

scaryclown Wed 01-Feb-17 10:26:03

The most geeky know it all neighbourhood watch guy who inexplicably has a comb over in his early 30s . The parish council.

The MP who she owes some handy-shaky PR favours too after you tried to fuck him at the conservative club jolly.

Your daughter's boyfriend who you told not to change his motor bike oil in the garden 'nowlookatwhatyouvedone'

RatOnnaStick Wed 01-Feb-17 10:28:07

Honestly? Assuming its a big hole I would probably ring 999 first, followed by my neighbours, and the pub across the road and we'd all be gawping at it as the fire service or whoever turned up. Then we'd all troop across for a calming drink in the pub and I'd probably remember to call my husband...

katiegg Wed 01-Feb-17 10:29:40

Probably my husband! but since that's not an option for your character, my dad. I honestly don't think I'd know who I was 'supposed' to phone so I'd have to contact a responsible adult who'd no doubt tell me to call fire and rescue. If you're character is the sensible sort, she'd probably know to phone the fire service first!

BigbyWolf Wed 01-Feb-17 10:31:10

Hmm, I automatically thought my Dh. Even though he couldn't actually do anything about it, that would be my instinctive reaction I think.

If I were in your character's shoes, depending on my relationship with him; ex husband/father of my child? Or my parents.

NarcsBegone Wed 01-Feb-17 10:31:57

I'd probably call the council and take it from there... I think... fire brigade to check it was safe and secure it.
I'd be telling 19yr old to get a bloody grip. I'd then have a fag and a coffee whilst sending pics of it to people.

tabulahrasa Wed 01-Feb-17 10:39:10

My neighbour, she's way more practical than me, plus I think I'd want someone to see it.

Failing that, Facebook tbh - again because of the seeing it.

But also because I haven't got a clue if there is an official somebody to deal with a hole in your garden, it's not an emergency service I don't think, can't see the council being right either... so I'd need someone to tell me, lol

FineSally Wed 01-Feb-17 10:53:20

Thanks for the suggestions!

She's a sensible sort of person.

I wondered whether I was overthinking it. My immediate reaction was 999, then I wondered what on earth the fire service could actually do?
Of course if she's insured with NFU or Direct Line, the TV ads would imply you ring them first!

MrsHathaway I like that reaction from her daughter!

Scaryclown I love your ideas! I might incorporate something in the dialogue, to lighten the scene.

icyfront Wed 01-Feb-17 12:02:57

I think I'd call the Fire Service, given that they're called Fire and Rescue, and they occasionally rescue horses and whatnot who have fallen into big ditches. So obviously they know all about big holes.

MissyMop123 Wed 01-Feb-17 13:08:13

I'm not sure if this is helpful but there's a sinkhole in the protagonist's garden in 'This Book Will Save Your Life' by A M Homes. This is one of my favourite books of all time. It's based in Hollywood so it won't solve your dilemma but the way it's dealt with is very funny. The sinkhole is ignored for a while and gets bigger, a horse is airlifted from it by a famous actor....

BigbyWolf Wed 01-Feb-17 16:13:58

Missy I love that book!

TheCustomaryMethod Wed 01-Feb-17 16:17:26

I'd Google 'sinkhole in garden - what to do' and take it from there.

wordassociationfootball Wed 01-Feb-17 16:22:20

I love the situation and, scaryclown, great imagination.

ImperialBlether Wed 01-Feb-17 16:25:38

I'd definitely call emergency services as I'd worry in case something was going to happen to the house.

MissyMop123 Wed 01-Feb-17 16:50:17

BigbyWolf - I don't know when her next book is out but I can't wait. I love her dry sense of humour.

BigbyWolf Thu 02-Feb-17 01:07:36

Missy I love her writing style. I can't quite put my finger on why precisely, but I just love that particular story. I want to read it again now...

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Thu 02-Feb-17 01:15:18

Probably the council.

Although it's just possible I'd call the nice structural engineer who was in the house recently, and knew the area right down to where the bombs were dropped in WWII.

Yes, now I've thought of it, definitely the engineer: the whole staff were extremely helpful, and if nothing else would tell me who to call next and whether running screaming would now be appropriate.

sallysparrow157 Thu 02-Feb-17 01:20:33

I'd phone either my bloke or my best friend, I'd not be able to organise my thoughts enough to call the emergency services straight away so I'd phone either of them basically to get reassurance that I should be phoning 999 or whatever, and to practice saying 'there's a fucking big sinkhole in my fucking bastarding garden, what the bollocks should I do?!' So I can say it without the swears to the proper grown ups!

FineSally Thu 02-Feb-17 19:16:59

Thanks for all the replies smile

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Thu 09-Mar-17 20:22:47

Bit late to the party - but I'd be turning the question round and asking "what's the sink hole meant to do in terms of plot/character development?" Then have her make the call that will lead to most drama/the twistiest plot twist/the person she needs to reconnect with but doesn't yet know she does/the last person in the world she should become beholden to but doesn't yet know she shouldn't become beholden to... Then add some superficial gloss of realistic reason why she might phone this person as a kind of top coat so the reader doesn't realise.

But then I'm a very plot-driven writer - a thin veneer of realism applied to the surface to make the plot rattle along.

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