All Bars Are Wally’s Bar
By Doug Brewer
I’ve read that some editors are against stories set in bars, so naturally, I write stories set in bars. I can think several stories and essays I’ve written during my time in the BGWS where I’ve either placed the action or mentioned a bar, and it’s always Wally’s Bar.
Wally’s Bar was a place where I spent a good amount of time and money when I was younger, when I was seriously considering Professional Drinking as a career choice. Wally had good beer, or as good as I could afford, and cheap pool tables in decent condition, and my friends and I made regular pilgrimages over the twenty or so miles to Morrilton, Arkansas for the pleasure. It turned out that Professional Drinking was not a valid career choice, but it was good to know I had the chops to do it.
I’m not suggesting you adopt Wally’s Bar for your writing. It’s my thing, and I intend to keep exploiting it. What I am suggesting is that you know some places very well and that you can use those places as locations for your characters to do their things. You have your hometown, your favorite grocery store, that one place where you used to steal smokes or whatever, and with slight modifications, those places can serve as backdrops for all manner of adventure.
At Wally’s, I’ve added weird clocks, had two people fall back in love, let a man moan on about a failed llama venture, and shot pool with Doc, who always beat me. It is light and dark in there, smoky and old and has the world’s greatest servers. Clearly, Wally’s Bar is magical.
Look around your memory. Maybe you have a Wally’s in your world. If you do, consider yourself blessed. If you don’t, maybe there’s another place or six you know equally well as I know my favorite bar. If so, use them and give your characters a familiar place to be.
Doug Brewer lives in Richmond with his wife, two kids, a garage cat, and a moronic dog. He is in his thesis semester, due to graduate this spring. In addition to some seriously disturbing fiction, he sometimes commits creative non-fiction.
Published on February 23, 2016