Friday, 13 May 2016

Three little words...and none of them 'I Love You'

Wednesday last was NIBS: the Nanpantan Improving Body of Scribblers. We meet monthly, and our theme this month was 'Three Little Words.'

If I'm honest, I was a little fearful for this meeting. I've not been writing much lately, being uninspired and a bit parched on the word front. I couldn't be sure I'd be able to write anything at all...but I did, thank goodness.

We started off with three words, pulled at random from a random word generator. Combinations included 'defeat, necklace, lion' and 'confidence, rabbit, clown'. The idea was, we'd spend ten minutes pulling out new combos from the pile of paper slips and write a sentence to include all three words. Then we chose our favourite to share with the rest of the group (random words in bold);

The eagle's flight resembled a dance, choreographed to the phone's ring tone.

The wolf that had somehow found itself in the tower of evil was howling.

When I go to the dance at the Liberty Club on Wednesday, I always have to make sure I've have enough money to phone home and enough for a pint of Eagle gin with a cherry in.

Frustrated at the anger shown by the visitors to the planet, her shoes clipped briskly down the corridor.

There were many people killed and in pain when the train collided with the lighthouse that had inexplicably appeared on the track.

The third bunch of grapes down on the left hand side of the fireplace is thought by the castle's servants to bring them luck if they touch it.

Next step was to pick one of those sentences - not your own - and write a short piece using it. Well. As a result of that, we were introduced to the lovely ladies who drink at the Liberty Club on a Wednesday night (fabulous character sketches); a sci-fi birthday gift that hadn't been planned (His Pompous Ass, the Pompadour, did not expect THAT!); Malevolence, who actually never got round to including the two sentences the author wanted to use, but it was a flippin' atmospheric build up(!); a beautiful poem about an eagle's flight by a member of our group with a gift for poetry, and a poor wolf, trapped after an earthquake in a theme park called Armageddon...

The group found it quite hard to take someone else's sentence, because as one person pointed out "when you write your own sentence, you have a picture in your head of what the story looks like. All of a sudden, you have to build on someone elses's." Nevertheless, everyone rose to the challenge.

I took the eagle sentence as my inspiration. Here's what I wrote:

The eagle's flight resembled a dance, choreographed to the phone's ring tone. I ignored the caller, letting the notes of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross accompany its darker coloured Highland cousin as the bird soared above me. I shaded my eyes against the glare, following the silhouette. Dark against a cloudless sky, wings stretched wide to catch the warm and lift the eagle higher and higher, turning in wide circles until the dot became too small to see and the phone fell silent, the caller no doubt frustrated by my lack of response.

Oh, for a wind to take me to higher things, to move me on. Instead I'm grounded, stuck where I don't want to be.

I glance at the phone. Missed call. Matt's number. 

The eagle calls - once - from the lofty heights and suddenly I know, deep in my heart, that I've made my decision and I feel lighter than I have for months, years maybe.

I'm leaving him.

The next part of the evening took a different list of three little words, which, when put together in a specific order, gave a possible title. Now if you try this yourself, then be prepared for some combinations to work better than others - only choose the ones that give you something real, however wacky that reality may be. And be prepared to add 'A' or 'The' to fill it out.

We had a laugh over some of them, even more so when the pieces were written. There was the poignant tale of a family reunion: The Last Apple Alliance. The conversation of night time insects on a balmy summer evening Lantern Light Conversation. An end of term show and a beach paradise with singing trees, both featuring the Dazzling Humming Bananas, and then there was Gwendoline's Magnificent Momentary Revolt.

Now the author of that piece deserves special mention. She's a lady whose writing often tends towards the darkly humourous, and it has become a standing joke that someone always gets killed off in her writing. We said that perhaps we ought to have a night where we challenge ourselves to write in a genre we didn't usually attempt - in this author's case, it would have to be romance. She took us at our word, and Lady Chatterley had nothing on Gwendoline, watching the gardener wipe beads of sweat from his brow...admiring his manly chest covered in fine hair...and enjoying the sight of him clenching his...biceps (yes, we all thought it was going to be something else beginning with 'b'!) etc, etc, etc. You had to be there, really, to appreciate it, but I was crying with laughter by the end.

(The author has sworn never to attempt romance again!)

I managed to bring the mood down after that with my offering of The Sacred Tooth Ceremony...

Oh my son, do not go to the Picking, I beg you! You have a paltry three hands of summers, when there are others who have five six - even ten! Do not follow them to the cave where the Red-Handed Man resides, for if you do, you will have to Pick.

Oh, my son, I know you are tall and strong and have worked hard since your father passed into the realm of darkness, but there is no reason for you to follow him, not yet!

Of course the Picking won't kill you - but what comes after will! Oh, my son, if only your father were here to explain, it breaks my heart that I must...

If you are Picked...if you select the burnt crust from the basket of bread...then the Red-Handed Man will pull every tooth from your head to offer to the Old Ones so they can eat again.

What do they eat? Oh, my son...they eat the flesh of the one who was Picked.

It was great to get the wordy juices flowing again. It just goes to show how something simple can spark an idea and get the bones of a little bit of a story fleshed out. Actually, I have a little mermaidy project that I've been struggling with, ready to submit for a third Random Writers Anthology. I think I'm ready to tackle it again.

Right, where's my pen? Catch you later, Scribblers! I'm off to write...

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