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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

Spoiler alert: read the story “Elkwood” first, if you haven’t already

This one would probably work quite well as a radio play, to be honest. I was aiming for something more Victorian gothic horror, and I think I almost got there in one or two places.

Elkwood was the name I originally came up with, and I didn’t really realise where it fitted or whose it was. And then I finally realised it was the old man’s name. I didn’t use it more than once though, because I was using the name “Munro” so much. Perhaps that was a mistake, perhaps not – I’m not entirely sure.

The shopkeeper was originally called “Munro”. If you want a model for him, watch the film “Northfork” – Cup of Tea was predominantly in my brain for him. Read more

This was a hard one to write. It’s actually the third attempt I’ve made to write it over the last twenty years when I first came up with the idea. The idea that appearances can be deceptive is always a fascinating one for me, and the notion that there really is a monster in the cupboard and that’s a good thing was too much of an idea to miss.

That said, the actual scene was hard to do. I didn’t want to go too far, and make something that was too graphic, mainly because this is an area in which I have no personal experience (fortunately for me). The device of the boy watching the monster rather than the molester, then, seemed the best way of keeping the action flowing without stepping the wrong side of a line I wasn’t sure I could see properly. Read more

For this one, I asked my other half to give me a key word beginning with C, and she chose “crime”. So that was the title of this story up until the very last minute.

I basically started writing this one and came up with the idea of them exposing a cheat by using exactly the same methods, losing and then explaining why they’d lost. I’m not too sure that that came over entirely, or that the poker scenes worked particularly well (especially as I’ve never really played the game), but the idea was to focus on the interactions between the players. The rest of it was basically winging it by remembering The Sting. Read more

So, although Bernice was a much shorter story, ironically, this one felt a lot harder to write than Another Stack.

Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read Bernice yet, so the click-here thing is going here Read more

Behind The Scenes: Another Stack

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/12
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: | No Comments yet, please leave one

OK, so this is basically going to be a post about how I wrote “Another Stack”. I’m not sure really why I’m doing this, or whether I’ll even do another one, but I thought someone might be interested in the writing process, so here goes…

Having set myself the challenge of writing a short story every week for a year, the first problem came with the writer’s age-old problem: what to write about? I had a few ideas spinning around, but it wasn’t until Friday evening that the idea for the story came about.

It really was about outsiders, and how outsiders don’t react in the same way as other people. Doctor X here is clearly an outsider to the group, in a way – he doesn’t dress the same way, he doesn’t seem to behave the same way, and he clearly doesn’t feel the same way about the rest of the group’s “end justifies the means” approach. (Interestingly, neither does Tom the Roadie, and perhaps I should have explored that a little bit more, but I didn’t want to detract from the main flow.)

The name “Another Stack”, associated with the band name “Chimney”, had come into my mind years ago, during a train journey to work. I noted it down in a little notebok of “ideas for stories” and left it. I have no idea where that notebook is right now, incidentally; the band popped back into my head some time Friday evening.

Having written the first draft, I rewrote it – twice – on Saturday. The beginning changed a lot, being re-ordered to make things more readable before the first interview. Once I hit the first interview, everything stayed more or less the same, minus a few tweaks, until the very last line, which didn’t get its final form until the very last moment. Once I’d got it, I knew it was right. A quick read through, spell and grammar check, and it went live.

I did want to touch on the manager a bit more, but again, there wasn’t space. Maybe I’ll write a story about him later in the year…

See you tomorrow for story number 2.

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