Saturday, 16 February 2013

Random Word Stories

I promised I'd blog about this, so here goes.

As part of my Fiction module for my MA, I have to produce random words stories. The original exercise was to pluck three concrete nouns from the things I like and know a lot about to base fiction off. I chose Cats, Dice and Books. The second stage was to expand on the words to see how they could stretch (the cat that follows you home, the mystical connection to goddesses, the way dice can govern our lives, their connection to luck and so on and so forth).

The third stage was to choose three abstract nouns (in my case, Curiousity, Wonder and Love) and to start meshing words together to make stories. So you end up with things like a group of men in a gambling den where a cat, who may or may not be an incarnation of Bast and things like that.

This week I was meant to take fellow students' words and do the same thing. This is complicated by the fact I'm the only distance learning student on the module (essentially the timing of the normal module is no good for me, so I've switched to distance learning). As a result I threw it out to Facebook and asked for some friends there to suggest words.  I must thank here, Meg Kingston, Rob Harkess and Kristi Jones who provided me with a fairly long list of words.

The list they provided me was like this:

Concrete Nouns
Fish (1)
Mug (4)
Paving slab (2)
Car (3)
Thermosetting Concrete (1)
Crow (2)
Knitting (2)
Can (3)
Hay (4)
Inn (4)
Hands (3)

Abstract Nouns
Passion (3)
Confusion (1)
Bored (1)
Danger (2)
Adventure (4)
Freedom (4)

I don't need to write the whole thing, just develop a paragraph thumbnail saying what happens and giving an idea of outline. Technically I don't need to develop character names but some of the stories just supplied them.

Random Story

Joe and the Whale

Bob and Mary Tapper are taking their three grandchildren around an art gallery. They're confused by the art, most of which is modern and not the kind of art they remember (though they try to keep the children interested). The children are in fact bored, and are starting share it loudly. They stumble onto Heavy Water, an installation of huge concrete fish and floating glass spheres, and the children seem to be interested in the hanging sculptures, running around the hall and exploring it whilst Bob and Mary sit down. When they go to leave they realise that one of the children, Joe, is missing. They search, panicking when they fail to find the boy. They contact security, who start to double check. Climbing the sculptures they find the boy inside the statue of the whale, fast asleep.

A Murder of Crows

A young woman discovers the body of her grandmother, pecked to death on the patio. She's still clutching her knitting, it's stained with her blood which dripped down to the paving slabs below. As the granddaughter phones 999 she notices that the nearby trees are full of large crows. She realises they are bigger than they should be and are looking at her most unkindly. As she's talking the birds move closer to the house in an unnerving fashion. She hears the tapping of beaks on glass, the rustling of wings all around the house. We end with her staring at a bird at the window, which is returning her gaze with an evil eye.

Car Trouble

Dwayne loves his car to the extent that he doesn't go to clubs, just cruises up and down the main street where clubbers gather, showing off and trying to pull. He succeeds and takes the girl, Nadine, off in the car. They start making out, and he's just slipped his hand up her leg and under her skirt when he realises that she's got her boots up on the dashboard and freaks out (his precious car). They fight and he throws her out. In revenge she takes one of his cans of fizzy drink and shakes it up before opening it all over the inside of his car.

The Great Escape

A man who's trapped in a stifling marriage, takes his car and drives off, seeking freedom, space and adventure. He get to a rural inn and stays the night, going to bed with a local girl. In the morning as they take breakfast, drinking tea from mugs and eating bacon sandwiches. As they're finishing up, the man's face drains of colour as his wife's car pulls up outside.

The Cruellest Cut

A near future, a Britain that's preparing for war. After a crisis restrictions on civil liberties are being imposed. Two people, mother and daughter, are in the garden pruning roses. They're talking about the changes, with each of them taking one side – in effect they're arguing (I suspect the younger woman is supportive of the changes, whilst the older disapproves of them). They start to argue properly and, by accident, one of them snips at the wrong place, cutting a living bloom from the rose. It tumbles to the floor.


  1. Sweet - when you develop them into stories and undoubtedly get them published in some prestigious anthology - do we get a cut of the royalties :)

  2. Maybe. Oddly, even though I see them as literary fiction rather than genre, I would like to write most of them. :)