Monthly Archives: May 2011

Things that slowly get to short story judges:


– it’s big and ugly but have you ever tried reading 50 stories in a row that hinge on the lead up to/fallout of a death? Choose life.


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I sit cross legged by the side of the road and the others sit with me, either on the curb, like I am, or back on the pavement, leaning against the brick wall.

‘We getting the bus back?’ asks someone.

The taste of the cigarette sits in my mouth. When he speaks Sam’s voice is tight from holding in smoke, ‘Na’. He breathes out and looks round.  It was James who asked. ‘Na, we can walk. Everyone here?’ Sam looks round, ‘Who’s missing?’

Someone says ‘George and Paulo aren’t here’.

I think they might have left earlier in the night but I don’t say anything. I’d spent most of the night with them in Third Room, but after they went to the bar I lost them. Someone else, I think Henny, says ‘George?’, but James says ‘He went ages ago’.

Paulo says that Sarah and Lashes left a while ago as well. So Paulo is here.

‘Alright, so no one’s missing?’ Silence. ‘So why we sitting here?’ Sam twists his head, ‘Back to yours?’ He says this to Mark.

Mark’s like a rag doll left at the side of the road, arms on his knees, head hanging down. He nods but doesn’t speak. I can see the tarmac reflected in his sunglasses. ‘Everyone’s back to Mark’s right?’

No one speaks which means that everyone is. Continue reading

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Filed under Creative writing, People, Places, Stories

A perfect narrative arc

Radiohead : Just

From annoyance to questioning to concern to pleading to a stupendous, ambiguous ending, all in less than four and a half minutes. Possibly one of the best short stories created. I can’t think of any other  music videos that do this, and do this this well. Suggestions? (#shortstorymusic)


Filed under 5 Minute Sketches

Books about me #1

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Page turners from the past

After seeing recently that there is a radio adaptation of The Silver Sword available on Radio 4 (episode three up there at the moment), and the news that the BBC are to start filming Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazonsbooks I had read as a child rushed from the dusty back room of my memory for the first time in years.  Goes to show that the good ones usually end up making a lasting impression.

__________________________ _ _ _ _ _

The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) – I later devoured all the Famous Five books, all the Secret Seven books, and most of the Adventure series, but this one of the first Enid Blyton books I read.

The Coral Island (R. M. Ballantyne) – Three boys are shipwrecked on a coral island following a huge storm. Exciting, idyllic, thrilling, it’s a great adventure story but one that’s very much of its time (the book was written in 1857, a golden age for the British Empire, and consequently the white man brings learning and civility while native inhabitants are savages and cannibals). As a side note, William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies in part as a response to this book. Continue reading

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The written art of the con – p.s.

As a postscript to my piece about con men and writing I wanted to add that the very act of mentioning the word ‘con’ and the concept of ‘conmen’ makes an entire story suspect in the mind of the reader. Suddenly as they read there is suspicion, concious or subconscious, about the reality of everything that is said, shown, examined and done. Think about what happens when you watch a film about conmen. Towards the end of the film you don’t know what to believe, so you tend to doubt every action.

Write the  story in the first person and perhaps the narrator is conning the audience he speaks to, or conning himself.

The writer (author) of the story could be the writer (character) of the story.

It could all get a bit mind bending.

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Filed under Ideas, Stories

The written art of the con

Another idea I had recently came midway through watching the brilliant The Brothers Bloom (by director of the equally brilliant Brick – a man who likes his ‘B’s in a title).

The Brothers Bloom is a story of con men, con men brothers. Not a particularly original idea, but the scale and artistry of the cons created by older brother Bloom lends a sometimes surreal tilt to the story, something furthered by dialogue and production design that is as distinctive and different as anything found in a Wes Anderson film (not that this is a Wes Anderson film).

The idea, which I meant to write down as soon as I thought of it, but didn’t, and still managed to remember it, which means that it’s probably an okay one, is . . . the perfect con.

Again, not that original. Continue reading

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Filed under Ideas, Stories