I listen to podcast 'Stuff You Should Know' and it's awesome. They've got hundreds of episodes up there, spanning years of material, and it's always something interesting. They've blogged about The Singularity before (and honestly, if you don't know what the Singularity is, check out that podcast!) On a recent show someone sent in an email suggesting that maybe the Singularity (the moment when AI becomes sentient and self-aware) had already happened. Well, that sounds like a perfectly creepy story idea, and I've shamelessly borrowed it and written it up as a 100 themes.Read More
The skimmer flew on. Now that he was inside the long and gently curving tube, Jerod gunned the engine. It was an artefact of the visualisation, he knew; pushing further into the neuron had shrunk his skimmer down, to the point where the journey was taking far longer than it should have, but it was the only way his mind could make sense of it all. Either that, or Ramona’s mind was resisting, taking more of an active role in the simulation.Read More
I wrote ‘Keeping a Secret’ after doing a bit of research into coding information into human DNA for another project. I’m writing a short story that I would like to submit to the BBC’s Short Story Competition, and I stumbled across this new article.
It was the last line that really brought this story into view. I read that and thought, ‘Damn, that’d make an excellent story.’Read More
Another Noctis Point universe 100 themes work. These are all short and deliberately display a photo, a moment in time. I should really concentrate on creating fully-encapsulated short stories, because it's something I find challenging.
045 - Illusion
Alex sat on the single hard chair, concentrating. In his mind, he could hear the lesson, his tutor’s voice quiet, hypnotic.
“Picture a box.”
He furnished himself with a cardboard box. It wasn’t much. The bottom was sealed with brown packing tape.Read More
Also, Noctis Point! I've been playing around with the world a bit and I've created a timeline. Worldbuilding is so much fun. I should do some actual writing sometime!
This is #44 of the 100 Themes, which takes place in a lecture room on Mars Base 3.
“There are two roads on Mars,” Dr. Judd said, pointing at the projected map, “and it’s likely to stay that way until the terraforming is complete.” Alex watched as his tutor highlighted the two thin supply routes, making notes on his own pad.
“Now. They’re dead straight, see that? Anyone care to tell me why?”
“Robots,” Alex said, not even looking up from the pad.Read More
Another 100 themes story. I don't exactly know where the influences for this come from, but at the beginning it was loosely based around Jack and the Beanstalk. We had to teach this a couple of years ago and it's always seemed like a really unfair story to me. I mean, Jack is a thief and a murderer. He breaks into the Giant's castle; he hears threats made about men, but doesn't have any evidence; he steals from him three times, and then when the Giant follows him to retrieve his stolen goods, Jack kills him. What about the Giant's wife, who hides Jack? What happens to her after her husband is dead?
Very unfair :(
Anyway, here's an almost entirely-unrelated story about giants.
Another 100 themes. This one has a nice point of view, quite different from anything I've written so far. I think on reflection that the amount of things I put in to make it seem 'alien', calling furniture and rooms by different names, makes it too hard to get a sense of place.
041 - Teamwork
“My friends,” screeched Barney, “we must work together to defeat our common enemy!” He turned, pointing to the walls of their prison. “Even now we are taunted, forced into unwanted physical contact completely at the whim of our captors, and for what? For the sludge they put out for us every day? For what we can steal from their kitchen while they sleep?”Read More
I'm working with a new character, introducing her over several very short stories. She's interesting; I can't quite decide yet what the target audience would be for stories featuring her, but I'm enjoying the young adult audience.
Here's the first piece. It's also a 100 themes piece.
039 – Dreams
An explosion rocked the city. A plume of flame and dusty mingled with black smoke roared out into the night, shaking the buildings to their foundations. Eve stopped running long enough to turn and look at the destruction as the smoke gushed out of the hole torn into the roof. The awe of the watching crowd of restaurant-goers turned to panic as pieces of terracotta tile, some needle-sharp and others bigger than Eve’s head, started to rain down onto the cobbles. They scattered, heading for inns or houses, sheds, anything to get away from the scene.Read More
I wanted to write a sequel to 035 - Hold My Hand but this wasn't quite what I had in mind. It's there, though, and done now.
I'll admit that this is a little loose. There's too many places, it's too bitty, I'm not really sure why Shania came back to see John and it ends with someone's nipple being forcibly embedded in a person's back. But hey, I wrote it and it's staying that way. I'm feeling tired and cold and slightly feeble, and I don't want to go back and rewrite it.
I haven't had the time to write recently. I saw something that said that writing should be in your top five things to do if you want to try and be a serious writer. I do want to be a serious writer, but I suddenly realised earlier today that I haven't actually sat behind my netbook all week. Literally, I switched it off last Sunday and didn't switch it on again until today. Crazy thought there.Read More
A love story, this time, and taking the theme completely literally this time. I really enjoyed writing this one and it's something I'm sure I'll return to. I know a lot of things have been set on Mars but I tried for a slightly different idea here.
Edit: My wife (who has an excellent blog over here) has suggested I make a sequel to this, continue the story. It's swilled around in my head for a couple of weeks and I think I have a solution. It's going to be a bit of an homage but I think I can pull it off.Read More
Well here we are. The writing bug is back, and feeling good. Each piece seems to feel more natural much better.
I don't plan these in any way. I generally start with a central idea, given to me by the theme, usually a twisted idea. Thought process for this one went 'Stars in the sky, stars on TV, stars sewn onto something as badges or embroidered (like Soviet stars), been looking at tattoos today, ooh, tattooed stars.' The whole story went from there.
Probably the first time a character in a story has surprised me by revealing something about themselves right at the end.
I've been out of writing for a long time. My last piece was Easter, about two months ago, and before that it was a long old time.
My reasons for this sound, to my ears at least, mournfully self-pitying. However, as far as I'm concerned, this is my story and I'm sticking with it. My job has kept me very busy and I simply haven't had the mental space to write. I sometimes feel like writing requires at least two of these three: Time, willpower, energy. Pick two. I haven't managed to have two of those in the same space for nearly a year now.Read More
Initially an idea we had for the Manga Jiman competition 2010, I was stuck for inspiration when I came across the plan. The next theme fitted it quite well; originally it was set during the day, but it was easy enough to repurpose, and actually I think it words better this way. I enjoy the idea of the grainy green night-vision goggles with the people picked out in white.
Written in a Cornish pub called something like Cornubia in Gwithian.
The last piece for Oxy. The real thing will be here someday, promise.
Robert turned the flower over in his hand. A lily, pale white, stamens heavy with pollen. He held it up to the light, catching the delicate tracery of veins in the glow from the phoslight.
“And you found this... where?” he asked.
The young man sitting on the other side of his cluttered desk gulped down air. He was one of the furthest patrols in the area and there was no telling how far or fast he had run to get this back to base.Read More
This one fitted the idea for Oxy really well; a world too polluted to live out in the open, unless you had filters which you kept refreshed with precious oxygen. The rain was acid and only mutants could survive in it for long.
This one flowed easily.
Grozchev was the antagonist for Oxy, my NaNo piece. He's a truly horrible person; I like making horrible people. They're so much fun to write about!
Definitely going to finish Oxy sometime.
Another piece for the failed NaNo entry. Meela, as a character, stayed in, as did Richard from the previous Theme.
Meela stared out the window. The rain spattered against the pane, droplets combining to form rivulets that dribbled down over the windowsill and fell the twenty storeys to the ground. Her forehead rested against the cold glass, breath misting up a small circle.
“Why do you have to go?” she had cried.
“If we want a healthy child, I have to go.” He had been so careful to keep his expression warm, loving, despite her outburst. Damn him, he had always been so good at that.Read More
This was originally designed to be a taster piece for my NaNoWriMo 2011 work. Ultimately, I didn't like that and never completed it. It will definitely come here as a short piece, though; it deserves to be finished.
The setting is somewhat more sci-fi than most of my stuff, too; perhaps I tried too much change all at once. Anyway, here it is! This and the next few of the 100 Themes were for NaNo, but obviously with different focuses.
Something rather more a period drama, I think. Also an experiment in first-person writing, once again. It's not my favoured type of writing but it's something I'd like to work with.
'My Dearest Clarabel,’ the letter began. There was a strange splodge of dark brown in the space before the end of the line, as if something liquid had been dripped onto the paper. My mouth twisted in distaste. She’d cried over this. Ugh.Read More