I write Flash Fiction every Monday (or try to) as a way of going to the writing gym. The plan is to shake some ideas free, wake me up and get me looking at writing from a different angle. Sometimes it really works, and sometimes it’s an epic fail.
The last few months seem to have been filled with fiction that links to other projects. There’s been a lot of fiction that went with King’s Silver and the latest Grumpy Old Gods anthology. I also felt that my writing was sounding a little dark. I needed to change things up.
My usual source of inspiration is wandering around a supermarket, washing up, driving or generally minding my own business and letting my thoughts wander. Sometimes I worry about where my imagination takes me. It feels like my train of thought has left the station and I’m left behind, picking daisies on the railway tracks and then suddenly an idea about magic creeping into a Medieval fantasy world ambushes me (King’s Silver). Or what happens if someone uses the steampunk power to create a monster in the East End of London (Out of the London Mist). This time I was drawing a blank, so I thought, what the heck, and googled writing prompts. I had a little rummage and found this – Writing Exercises which has a load of great ways to start ideas. I went for the ‘Take Three Nouns’ prompt. My prompt was ‘Attic, Bookcase, Forgiveness’ and I wanted to write something completely new.
(I’ve just clicked on it again and it came up with ‘Adventure, Castle, Necklace’ and how can you not write a story about that. ‘Thrill, Clown, Butterfly is more of a challenge. I can see me going back there.)
So I sat down with the three words in my mind and thought about the ideas that they sparked in me. I really wanted to do something different, and definitely not something spooky. Which is why, of course, I wrote a piece that belongs with the ongoing story of Kane and has a strong supernatural slant. Completely not different and utterly spooky. You can find the story here and the background with Kane here.
I quite like writing the gentle little snippets, like ‘I Never Knew Her Name’, but there seems to be something deep inside me that says that it isn’t a proper story if it’s entirely in the real world. That stories should have a hint of magic and wonder about them.
I suppose that I ought to try more prosaic subjects. After all, it’s supposed to be an exercise to keep my writing fresh. On the other hand, no matter what I try, spooky keeps creeping in. I’m working on the principle – if it’s fun to write, then I should go for it!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to leave a comment.