August 14, 2019 at 10:08 am #5826
I’ve written a short story which ends with the line ‘Somewhere there was a phone that kept on ringing and ringing.’ This phone has to be a mobile, not a landline, and that’s the ending I want (I won’t bore you with the details of why). But I’m wondering if no mobile phone would ever keep on ringing and ringing (until the caller hangs up), not even if voicemail was turned off. So is my ending believable or would it be impossible?
August 14, 2019 at 10:33 am #5828
- This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Jean Davison.
Very good question. You could have a play with the settings on your own phone to see if you can stop it going to voicemail, or set it for a greater number of rings before it does? I’m sure I’ve known mobiles that ring for ages before the go to voicemail, and also as the caller you can cut off the call and ring back almost instantly if the phone you’re calling goes to voicemail, so I don’t think the scenario would be implausible. I’d be surprised if any reader had a negative reaction thinking that such a thing couldn’t possibly happen, anywayAugust 14, 2019 at 11:27 am #5829
It sounds a wonderful last line and conjures up all sorts of possible scenarios; I can understand why you want to be able to use it. I wonder whether you can, though.If, as Daed suggests, you can prove it works by testing turning off your own voicemail, fine, but I suspect phone companies have a system that will automatically disconnect a call that goes unanswered – to free up the bandwidth. (Landlines operators do this, too.)
Could you come up with an equally good last line that involved the call transferring to a voicemail that would never be answered?
Alternatively, you could simply establish earlier in the story that this particular mobile, exasperatingly, refused to go to voicemail – it just keeps on ringing and ringing; nobody can fix it. 🙂August 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm #5830
Thanks for your comments Daeds and Tony Lyttle. My mobile won’t just ring and ring, but whether it is or isn’t possible with mobiles generally, maybe most readers would just think (if they thought anything), ‘Oh, my phone doesn’t do that but other phones might’. I do want my story to be realistic, but perhaps I’m getting overly fussy in my old age!August 14, 2019 at 5:44 pm #5831Philippa EastParticipant
Damn don’t you just hate when reality gets in the way of a good turn of phrase! I do love the sound of that last line.
I wonder if you could play with the idea of someone repeatedly redialling so that the ringing sound becomes continuous even if each call begins and ends. Perhaps you could tweak the last line slightly to read something like “… that kept ringing and kept ringing” to give more of a sense that someone kept on ringing back non-stop.
Failing all that, I’d just think “screw it” and go with your last line and trust that readers appreciate a bit of poetic license in our beautiful storytelling!August 15, 2019 at 5:17 am #5832KazGParticipant
That’s exactly the sort of detail-conundrum that gets my knickers in a twist, too! I agree with @philippaeast on this. I’m hearing a mobile that rings and rings, cuts out and then almost immediately rings and rings, cuts out, etc etc. Without knowing exactly what that signifies in your story I think it has the same level of hopeful/hopeless effort and also stress that a constantly ringing phone does.August 15, 2019 at 9:03 am #5833
Yes, but… Who would repeatedly ring a number that kept going to voicemail? Some might try twice but no more than that, surely.
And I suspect that perhaps the caller is no longer in a position to make repeat calls any more than the receiver is able to answer, but I’m just guessing.
I still think the simplest answer is to establish early on that this mobile is faulty and no-one will then question its continuous ringing.
August 15, 2019 at 10:29 am #5835
- This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Tony Lyttle.
Yes, so damn annoying. I expect we’ve all been here with our stories in one way or another. Just when I sat back happily, thinking I’d at last finished my story, that thought about plausibility came to me. And it won’t go away. However…
Last night I tried carefully writing into the story the stop-start from repeated redialling and thought it might be okay because the caller is desperately worried about the phone owner’s disappearance and could be obsessively trying to contact her. But then…
I had another try at googling some more about mobiles and I found instructions of how to disconnect voicemail. It might depend on what type of mobile, but at least one of them said, “When you disable voicemail your phone will ring indefinitely until the caller hangs up or you answer your phone.” Wonderful! Maybe I could just slip into the story earlier when someone tries ringing that they say ‘It was just ringing. Seems her voicemail is disconnected’. Then leave the original ending. That’s maybe best, do you think? (As long as what it said via google is correct).August 15, 2019 at 1:37 pm #5836
If it’s on Google it MUST be correct!!!
But it doesn’t really matter, if, within the context of what you write, it IS correct. As long as you “hang a lantern” as Harry Bingham of Jericho Writers, puts it, your readers will believe you. Go for it!August 15, 2019 at 2:28 pm #5837SandraParticipant
I remember reading after a train crash disaster, of the non-stop ringing of victims’ mobiles. Could you hot say “Somewhere there was a phone that seemed to keep on ringing and ringing.” ?August 15, 2019 at 10:32 pm #5838
Ref Tony’s previous comment, if a call can’t connect to a mobile it doesn’t always go to voicemail. Plenty of times I’ve called a number and instead of an answer or voicemail, heard something to the effect of ‘the number cannot be reached’ (can’t remember exact wording).
In any case, I think if the caller was worried and desperate to get hold of someone, they would hang up and call back if the phone went to voicemail. After all, I’m forever just getting to the phone as it rings off! Or been in the middle of recording a voicemail when you get a call waiting from the person you were trying to call who has rung you straight back. Quite often I will ring off if the call goes to voicemail and call again just in case. Maybe I’m just weirdAugust 15, 2019 at 10:34 pm #5839
…PS am certainly intrigued by the story’s ending now anywayAugust 16, 2019 at 8:16 am #5840
OK. Thank you folks you’ve given me an idea.
Maybe I can get round it by not implying the ringing sound is unbroken. Does this work?
I rang her mobile. No reply. Desperation prompted my repeated dialling. More than anything else I wanted her to be safe. Even wanted to hear her saying fuck you and calling me a fat cow. Only she could end this nightmare. Please let her be all right. I tapped in her number yet again and pressed my mobile to my ear, willing her to answer.
Somewhere there was a phone that kept ringing and ringing.August 16, 2019 at 8:41 am #5841SandraParticipant
Yup, that works.August 16, 2019 at 11:10 am #5842Philippa EastParticipant
Yeah, works. Nice one! Love the sound of the story and the dynamic between these characters xAugust 16, 2019 at 11:22 am #5843
Brilliant. Love that
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