24hrFFC, the stories behind the stories: 13 to 16

Posted: 2 April 2013 in 24hrFFC
Tags: , , , ,

To read the prologue, what when where, setting up why this took place, etc., click here.
To read about stories 01 to 04, click here.
To read about stories 05 to 08, click here.
To read about stories 09 to 12, click here.

And… we’re back. Well, at least I am. I assume you are as well if you’re reading this, and I hope you had a good break. There’s been a lot of stuff going on, so for the next few minutes, regard this place as an antidote to whatever it is that ails you. Unless of course, you’re suffering from an excess of people telling you how they spent Red Nose Day writing stories. In which case, you’re not going to enjoy this blog entry a lot. I’d go join a madrigal society or something.

Anyway, where was I? Well, at the time I’m writing about, I was where I’d been for thirteen hours: the community centre in Richmond, where I was writing story after story on behalf of Comic Relief. When we last looked in on me, I’d finished twelve stories… in thirteen hours. A couple of quick mathematical calculations shows that, using precise measurements peer reviewed and everything, each story had taken me a bit over an hour to write… and that each story going forward had to take a bit under an hour to finish and post up.

So, after posting story 12, and stretching my legs, having a ‘proper’ cigarette (yeah, I had some during this; mostly e-cig, but the occasional cigarette as well), the time was now half-past one in the morning…

Story 13
Title: The Bite
word: sexist
Challenger: Tim Minchin

I don’t know Tim at all – which is a pity, since I like how his mind works with words; strangely, although the musical comedy is what he’s become famous for, I’m far more impressed by the occasional bit he writes for various publications. I enjoy what he does with a sentence, and how his contempt for the target of his upset steers a paragraph.

When I saw the list of story titles and word supplied by the challengers, and the simple title and word above, I was struck again by the ‘obvious’ way this story could go… and how I definitely didn’t want it going there.

The first attempt for this story was a disaster. Literally. I set it in a post-apocalyptic environment, playing with the idea of sexism literally being a life and death matter in daily existence. Not exactly an idea swimming with humour, I’ll grant you, but the reason the story didn’t survive was a simple one: the only way I could get the story to work was to telegraph the ending from the first sentence and give the twist (which was a good one) away. Bah.

Back to the drawing board… well, the keyboard, anyway.

One of my favourite 1980s tv shows was the original WIDOWS by Lynda La Plante. I’d always wanted to do something like that, or at least pay homage to it, and when I remembered (confirmed by a quick reference to a dictionary) that a bite was also slang for a criminal’s portion of the take, the temptation was too much to resist.

I hope you enjoyed reading the story; I throughly enjoyed writing it.

You can read why here. (Story posted at 02:14 am)

And again, we’re at the ‘taking about an hour to write and post’ level. And I’m tired. I’ve been writing for almost fourteen hours and I’m tired. I want to write something silly.

Story 14
Title: The Green House’s Greenhouse
word: custard
Challenger: Dave Gorman

I’ve been a huge fan of Dave Gorman’s work since the BBC run of The Dave Gorman Collection, and my only regret about that is that I didn’t get to see the original stage show evolve as it did. The books of Are You Dave Gorman? and Googlewhack reduced me to tears of laughter while reading them.

Given where I was in the run of stories, I definitely wanted to write something silly, something humorous, something that was just… ok, I’ll say it again: something silly.

The last story I wrote in verse was for Caitlin Moran, and that wasn’t intended as a story in rhyme until, as I said, I read it out. That wasn’t the case with this tale – I knew the moment I saw it how I wanted it done: as something to be read out loud, preferably by Ronnie Barker in his role as a slightly the worse for wear [due to a brandy or two] country house owner.

I’ve still yet to see Dave Gorman live. I’d very much like to one day.

You can read the story out loud here. (Story posted at 3:09 am)

Bloody hell – after three o’clock in the morning. Ug. Most sensible people were asleep by then. Fortunately, I don’t know many sensible people and me and Mitch were still getting messages of support, donations, sometimes good natured and well meaning abuse. Ah, it kept me going. Lord knows what kept Mitch going, but behind me I could hear him singing away, plucking the strings of the guitar… and I was little bit envious of his astonishing ability. Shows how tired I was, folks – usually I’m incredibly envious of it.

Story 15
Title: The Lights Went Out
word: sarcophagus
Challenger: Andy Nyman

Andy Nyman is a hugely talented writer, actor and magician, with plays, screenplays. And he gave me a delightful challenge that provided a perfect contrast to the previous story.

The reading of the will has been a staple of detective fiction, indeed all fiction, far too long to be sensibly catalogued. And, if I’m allowed a certain pride for a moment, it’s usually the reading of the will in British fiction that reveals the most about a family via that reading. And, as the best fiction involves conflict, there’s always the unexpected bequest (whether in terms of amount, type, condition or legatee), the threats of challenging the will, the aged family lawyer, all the usual paraphernalia surrounding it.

I pictured the death of an important man, and his family behaving like automata afterwards, expecting their legacies, receiving them as their due, and moving on as if a business deal had been cocluded rather than a life. And there being only one person who saw that as anything ‘wrong’, and even she was powerless against it, wondering whether she too was only playing her part.

You can make your own mind up here. (Story posted at 03:50 am)

And just like that, I’d made up some time. A great little story, I thought, and time for another coffee…

Story 16
Title: Texting My Ex
word: underwhelming
Challenger: Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman. There’s nothing I can say about him that I haven’t said before, so I’ll leave it at an expression of gratitude for everything, and one additional set of thanks for nagging me to write more…

When I saw the challenge that Neil had supplied, I was both delighted and bothered. Delighted because I instantly knew what I was going to write, how it would be written, and the narrative ‘trick’ I’d be using; the lovely thing about the English language is that it often uses the same word for two or more similar but crucially not the same, no I mean really really not the same concepts. And so it is in this story.

Bothered? Well, yeah, it’s such a lovely little reveal at the end (in my mind) that I was sure I must have used it before. Now, I can’t be responsible for knowing or not knowing what every other author has done, but I can damned well be responsible for my own writings. And though some would argue that stealing from yourself is not only allowed, it’s positively encouraged on occasion, I’m not one of them. Not for something like this, not where the challenge is to come up with truly original (or at least as original as I can muster) tales.

But no, couldn’t see it in my previous writings. So I used it.

And I was very pleased with the responses I got – people really liked this tale. I’m glad. I got great pleasure from writing it; I’ve now written three stories for Neil, and I’ve enjoyed writing them, and enjoyed knowing he’s enjoyed reading them.

I hope you enjoy it as well. (Story posted at 04:27 am)

Yeah… half-past four. I’ve written four stories in three hours. I’m smack bang on schedule… for the first time in the whole thing, I’m absolutely smack bang on schedule.

Yeah, like that was ever going to last… See you tomorrow

To read about stories 17 to 20, click here

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Comments
  1. Kate Hahn says:

    love these!

    btw, the link to stories 9-12 actually points to the writeup for 5-8.

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