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Pulling the Strings

July 26, 2013

This week’s flash fiction challenge involved a random plot scenario generator that spat out two characters and an action for each of them.  I had an idea, but I couldn’t bring it to life until I started telling myself the story in a female version of the voice of the narrator from Bastion – gently Southern, no nonsense, sure of itself.  This is a technique I’m sure I’ll be using again, when I can’t find the right words or the right description.  The voice cut through all the others in my head offering distracting suggestions, and, I hope, makes it flow more naturally, and with more character.

I’ll tell you what the random generator told me, but later.  I don’t want to spoil the story.




She landed in a crouch, breathing hard, watching.  Dust settled.  Bits of metal somethings clinked, crashed and wobble-rolled out of the cloud.

But it was over.  The mechanical millipede, or whatever it was supposed to be this time, fumed. Torn metal and popped struts jagged from its carapace, and black clouds billowed from its belly.

High up in the leftovers of the cockpit, its operator fumed even darker.

She stood up, wiped a little bit of blood from her cheek.  Someone broke the fallen hush with a  whoop, and all the innocent bystanders broke into a roar, clapping and cheering.  The Artificier and his latest invention of terror were defeated yet again, and never mind the damage.  Just one more scrap heap in another broken-down nowhere town.

Here on this dust plain beyond the fringes of civilisation, he could make monsters and chase her all he liked; these people meant nothing to no one.  At least, not until the stories started getting told, filtering back.  The inventor, gone mad and rampant, and the mysterious girl who foiled him at every turn.

She gave a tiny nod, satisfied with her work today.  But then she saw him move, the slightest of motions.

Their eyes locked.  His hand was on some kind of dangerous-looking lever.  She tensed and, unblinking, tapped her jacket pocket over her heart.  His eyes blazed like the fires slowly burning out in the engines; that last shriek of twisted metal giving way was the grinding of his teeth.  But he let the lever go.

She slung her hammer over her shoulder  and turned away.  The crowd parted for her, chanting her name.

“I’ll get you next time!” he yelled out over the celebration.  The townspeople hushed, eyes wide.

She halted.  Then she grinned and blew a kiss over her shoulder.  “You just try!”  The crowd went wild.

A little smile touched her lips as she walked away.  She knew his secret.  As long as she had it, he would keep on trying to catch her.  And as long as he wanted it back, she would keep on living, and keep on winning.

And she would always be the hero.




So the random plot generator gave me this:

The story starts when your protagonist uses someone else to get ahead.

Another character is an inventor who is determined to make your protagonist look bad.


Digging the Bones

July 23, 2013
This is what happens when I don't write.

Digging up old microfictions, because sometimes looking back keeps me motivated moving forward.












According to science, all things are possible, though most things are highly improbable.


well then it seems fair to say that, it’s unlikely, but it’s possible, that the electricity firing between the synapses of my brain as I’m daydreaming could,

and I emphasise could;

COULD, in theory, give birth to some kind of thought monstrosity, cobbled together from

wayward thoughts and flash images and things I need to remember to do tomorrow.  This creature

(and creature is definitely the word, a creation.  A creaturation.)

could be in the world already, feeding off the synaptic firings of struggling writers and con men; invisible, intriguing, insistent.


In theory.


I wish I knew what it was after though.  Its scent is becoming distracting; it leaves the decaying bones of ideas around, and digs great holes in my mind.

Screaming Nonsense into the Storm

July 18, 2013

I forgot how much I enjoyed Chuck Wendig’s weekly flash fiction challenges over at his blog.  When I’m working on my own projects, I pile pressure on myself, and quickly lose the knack of ‘don’t worry about the first draft – just write.’  With a given starting point I attempt stories I would not normally have thought myself capable of, and with sometimes maddening constraints, I finish them. The challenge forces me to make my brain work in ways it’s not used to, and draw inspiration from unexpected sources.  My personal challenge at the moment is to relax and – aargh – just write. I try to kick back (here I imagine my desk chair scooting across the floor from where I’ve pushed off while I swivel and shriek) and write anything, even nonsense.  We should not underestimate the value of nonsense.


Sometimes you find wonderful things hidden inside.

Sometimes you find wonderful things inside.


These aren’t my proudest works, but I often come up with something I can use; a voice, a setting, a tone, a style, a single image.  In this week’s The Device, I didn’t love the voice I was trying to invoke – it led to wordy and unweildy sentences, and I’m sure I missed the mark on silliness – but I came up with some images that haunt me and I fully intend to recycle them elsewhere.  I know I’ve talked about the benefits of weekly ‘non-critical’ writing exercise before; actually re-reading posts like On Track, from a time when I was feeling a lot better about my writing, was what prompted me to have a go at these challenges again.

Going Nowhere

July 10, 2013

Waiting for the bus one day, a girl sighed and realised that this life is all just mental anyway.

So she let it go and put down her bag and slipped through a crack in reality, because the creatures born in the mind make sense to her the way the concept of money makes sense to other people.

She stepped sideways, and when she opened her eyes the street was empty and the city itself breathed slow and regular.

But it wasn’t entirely empty:  A straggle of boys stood there, in the centre of the road, and stared at her.

I still like to handwrite.

I downloaded Instagram to document my writing process and add visual interest to my blog posts.  How am I doing?

This, for now, is the introduction to my novella project, Going Nowhere.

For too long I’ve felt like I’ve been going nowhere with my writing. Projects start, and then they stall.  I get busy, work hours multiply, my social life kicks up its heels.  I’m not unhappy with my busy life. But I’m not completely satisfied with it either.  I know I can do better with my existence than just ride forward with it until it breaks down.  I want to create something.

This is what Going Nowhere is about.  The title is not a discouragement – it’s a reminder that I need to get through this daunting, hard, difficult, painful slog of a writing process if I’m ever going to reach a good place, a new place where I’m finally sublimely satisfised with how my life is progressing.  And I can already feel it working – work stress takes up less space in my mind and I remember that I’m doing a job I love; I delight in little moments of random human connection; and I can spot the take-you-by-surprise wonders in the seemingly mundane.

Simply: I feel better when I’m spending my spare time working at something that I love.

I might not have noticed this change if I didn’t spend almost as much time thinking about writing as I do actually writing.  I’m starting to believe that documenting the process is, to me, every bit as important as the story itself.  I type novella scenes straight onto the computer, but I handwrite pages talking to myself about how the story is turning out, what I think is broken or not what I intended, why that might be good or bad.  So much is clarified  and focussed by putting it down, that would be lost and muddled only thinking about it.  I’ve had so many breakthroughs thanks to this need to record every uncertainty, decision, and reason.

Thinking twice about everything is what makes a writer in the first place; analysing everyday experience and finding new use for it.  All of the occurences and thoughts get recorded and thrown into the novella stew; spice and flavour.

Documenting has another important function.  Filling notebooks with my brainsqueezings, Instagramming photos to make my efforts look more dramatic, recording spoken thoughts too flighty for paper, blogging about it – all of this creates a mountain of proof that I’ve been working towards something.  I’ve come a long way already, and I’m



And now time to stop agonising about the wording of this blog post, and get back to writing.

U is for Underneath

July 4, 2013

U is for Underneath

I was going to crop this like the others but realised I like it as it is – clearly an unfinished drawing, pencil on paper, still on the work surface.

The mind map underneath has nothing to do with the drawing it’s – oops, you weren’t supposed to see that yet. I’m making it as a process to pin down a tricky section of the novella I’m writing.  So far it seems to be a worthwhile tool to come up with ideas and solve problems….we’ll see.  Novella-related posts to come shortly!

T is for Tuba

July 2, 2013
Fruit Tuba!

Fruit Tuba!

R, S

June 20, 2013

R is for Rowboat

R is for Rowboat

S is for Sovereign


S is for Sovereign