The Art of Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan

So you’re working on a story, and it really ought to have a fight scene. But you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m not a martial artist! I’m not a member of the SCA! I have no idea how to fight!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “Fight scenes are so boring. I’d rather skip over this and get back to the actual story.” Or something else that makes you dread writing that scene, rather than looking forward to it with anticipation.

To the first group, I say: the details of how to fight are possibly the least important component of a fight scene. The crucial components are the same ones you’re already grappling with in the rest of your writing—description, pacing, characterization, all that good stuff.

To the second group, I say: it’s only boring if the author does it wrong.

A fight is part of the story. Just like any other scene, it shouldn’t be pure spectacle, stopping everything else dead for a set-piece before resuming the actual narrative. You can sort of get away with that in movies, because you have a soundtrack and changing camera angles and so forth to make it seem exciting, but words aren’t very good for describing movement; on the page, a fight needs to do something more.

This is violence. It’s one of the most fundamental things hard-wired into our brains, alongside food and sex — which makes it rich with narrative potential. What a character is and is not willing to do, when it comes down to fists or swords or guns, can reveal or change or confirm some fairly profound things about her personality. It can also play into or against the themes of a story. And there’s the artistic side, too; fight scenes can be just as much about good writing—description and so on—as anything else in the text.

MarieBrennan_WritingFightScenes600x900            When you sit down to write a fight scene, the most important question you should ask yourself is, What is the purpose of this fight?

In fact, ask yourself that twice: once for the characters, and once for yourself. Inside the story, we’re asking why these people are fighting. What’s their impetus for doing so, and what do they hope to accomplish? Outside, we’re asking what the fight is supposed to do for the story as a whole. Ideally, there should be more than one answer to one or both of those questions.

Why does the question of purpose matter? On the internal, in-story level, it determines what the characters are willing and unwilling to do. A woman probably won’t kill her best friend if the goal is just to make her give back the diary she stole from the dresser. But if the guy she’s fighting murdered her entire family and she wants him to pay? Very few holds barred, there.

On the external level, it determines how you the author put the fight on the page, and how it will end. If the only purpose is a simple, plot-based one — say, your character needs to get past the guards — then you can dispose of that in a sentence or two. It doesn’t merit any more of your attention, or your reader’s. But if it’s a climactic moment, where something important is going to happen emotionally or thematically (or better yet, both) alongside the plot consequence . . . then it’s time to pull out all the stops.

Which isn’t the same thing as describing every single block and strike. In fact, doing that will often kill your pacing and make your readers’ eyes glaze over. But for those of you who aren’t trained fighters, that’s good news! You can actually write a pretty good combat by focusing more on the meaning of what’s happening: whether someone is fighting defensively or launching an all-out attack, whether your point of view character is consumed by rage or terrifed they’re about to die.

It can help to describe a few specific movements, of course. Like a sex scene (with which it shares many technical challenges), a fight scene benefits from physical, visceral details. But they can be environmental details like heat or cold, light or darkness, the layout of the combatants’ surroundings; they can be bodily details like sweat in the eyes, uncertain footing, the burning pain of an injury. Those matter more to the reader than a binding parry to two, because the reader understands what they mean.

And when you need an actual combat move, there are ways to get that, without going through years of training first. YouTube has a lot of videos for different weapons and fighting styles — or if your characters aren’t skilled combatants, grab something non-lethal and a cooperative friend and try walking through things slowly, figuring out what you would do if you wound up in a certain position. If you need more than that, ask around online, or see if someone at a local martial arts studio is willing to help.

But don’t lose sight of the story. In the end, that’s the part that matters the most,

 

brennan-square-croppedMarie Brennan is a former anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for material.  She is most recently misapplied her professors’ hard work to the Hugo Award-nominated Victorian adventure series The Memoirs of Lady Trent; the first book of that series, A Natural History of Dragons, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and won the Prix Imaginales for Best Translated Novel. She is also the author of the Varekai novellas, the Wilders urban fantasies, the Onyx Court historical fantasy series, and more than fifty short stories. For more information, visit www.swantower.com or her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/swan_tower.

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First Chapter Checklist by Ed McDonald

Typewriter 3The first chapter of your book needs to be a bit special. All of the chapters need to be special, but Chapter 1 needs to be extra special. This is your agent-catcher. It’s the chapter where you need to hook that agent’s attention – or reader’s attention – and then keep them going. Your first chapter should be so polished that water can’t even settle on it, it just slides right off without any friction at all.

So, without further ado, here’s a checklist for your own first chapter that you might find useful to work through, to see if you’re doing common things that generally don’t work. This comes with the usual caveat that everybody’s writing process is different, and what works for me may not work for you etc… but I’d be willing to bet that if (like me with my previous 1.5 million words of novels!) you’ve had a lot of impersonal rejections, or if your beta readers just aren’t getting enthusiastic, then you might find that a number of these points are appearing. Also, there are exceptions to every rule, and these checklist items will simply not apply to very old books – times have changed, so sure, Tolkien doesn’t meet many of these, but then, The Lord of the Rings wouldn’t get published if Tolkien was writing today.

  1. Where does Chapter One drop us in? Is this the absolutely most interesting point that it’s feasible to drop the reader off in? You only get one shot to keep them reading. Was this the finest, most interesting, tense, exciting, glamorous, explosive, chilling scene that you could have written? If not, then it’s not first chapter material. If your chapter is a Slice Of Life chapter, calmly setting up the scene for the reader – then it’s not going to be gripping. We can be plunged straight into the action and understand that normally it’s a quiet day on the farm. We don’t need to see that quiet day. Ask yourself whether you can cut the whole chapter, and just start in Chapter 2. Then ask the same about Chapter 2.
  2. Cliched Openers. Try to avoid the following, which agents have seen 1000 times before: Waking up from a dream. Waking up with a hangover. Sword fighting training montage. “The Big Day” (e.g. Susie woke up. She was 16 today! Now she would become the chosen one!). A battle or fight with detailed descriptions of the action (we don’t know/care about the characters at this stage. It’s hard to be excited). It’s fine to have action, but the first chapter needs to establish characters and reasons to care about them rather than endangering them.
  3. Is something actually happening? And by something, I mean, something really really important/interesting. Something that’s going to get my mind bubbling for what comes next in the story. Does it make me thirst to reach the end of the book so that I know how it all works out? You need to hit this hard and run with it from the very first chapter.
  4. Is the protagonist an interesting character to follow? Why should I be interested in this character over others? As a general rule, a child in peril is always interesting to a reader. A lone woman on a dark road is always interesting. A wounded soldier behind enemy lines is always interesting. A farm boy who just wants to leave his boring home? Not so much. An interesting one here is The Old Veteran Living A Quiet Life. He’s interesting because we can immediately assume that his life is not going to remain quiet for long. Give us a character that we can relate to in terms of their fears and wants (see 5) but who is in a position that makes their immediate situation urgent. First chapters that begin by following kings, emperors, and generals bore me silly. I don’t care about their kingdom, I don’t care about whether they lose that port on the coast. I’m more interested in their wrongly-accused slave. Make sure that your protagonist is someone we can root for.
  5. 3500 words is probably your maximum chapter size for a first chapter. It’s common to try to cram in so much backstory and detail that first chapters can swell.
  6. PROPER NOUN OVERLOAD.Do not overwhelm the reader. No more than three named characters, including the protagonist, and one named place. Everything/everyone else can be described as “the guy in the jacket” or “distant cities.” If your chapter necessitates us meeting six people around a table, then change the chapter – let us acclimatise to your world gently. Readers simply cannot absorb that many proper nouns in one go. Also, don’t waste time on a slew of place names, magic names etc. We’ll mentally gloss over them as we try to get to the drama.
  7. Does the protagonist perform actively, e.g. do they want something? They need to want something, even if it’s just a ham sandwich. The inability to have what they want is what spurs their actions through the chapter. What does the protagonist want? Is it interesting?
  8. Don’t Wrap It All Up. As this is a first chapter, it needs to drive me to turn the next page. I feel that it’s an error to make Chapter 1 read like a short story or prologue, e.g. the incidents and the immediate threat have been cleared up by the time we get to the end. Does your chapter make me want to enter chapter 2? It absolutely has to. This means that killing off the character that we follow in Chapter 1 is generally not going to be a great idea (there are exceptions, sure) but can work as long as there’s sufficient mystery set up to drive us to want to read more.
  9. Reader Feedback – “Best book ever!” or try again. When you get feedback from your readers (I advise getting 3 different opinions on your work, preferably from people who are writers, who read fantasy, and who you wouldn’t loan money to) then they need to love your first chapter. Not just like it. Love it. So much that they’re asking for more chapters to read. Because if they don’t, if they say “Hmmm, yeah it was good” then that’s what an agent will think, and that agent isn’t going to take on “Hmmm, yeah it was good.” They take on “Omg I love this and I can sell it for a lot of money!” You need an “Omg!” If you don’t get it, go back to work on the chapter again. Be objective about criticism.
  10. Don’t be precious. Finally, consider cutting it, or rewriting it from scratch completely. Blackwing’s first chapter was rewritten from scratch four times, changing the location, the events, the characters – everything. And it’s worth it, because you have to get this right, and when you’ve been working on and editing something a lot, sometimes it can start getting overworked, turgid. A fresh write-through can be brilliant for changing things up and getting a better perspective.

As I said before, this is just my advice and it may not always work for everyone, but it worked for me and I think it’s pretty solid. There will always be exceptions, but if the points given here help you, then my work is done.

Ed McDonald 250 squ

Ed McDonald is the author of The Raven’s Mark series of books, which are published in nine languages around the world. He lives in London where he works part time as a learning and teaching specialist at a university, goes sword fighting (and axe fighting, dagger fighting. . . generally anything you can hit someone with) and can be found in various pubs and cafes working away on the next project.

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How Not to Plot a Horror Film by Matt Colborn

CaptureAs a writer you can sometimes learn more from dysfunctional stories than from masterpieces. Take the 2017 movie Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the earlier rather mediocre prequel Annabelle (2014). The 2017 movie, directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Gary Dauberman, is well made, well cast and in places scary, yet somehow ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

Annabelle the creepy porcelain doll first appeared in the opening minutes of The Conjuring (2013, dir: James Wan), scripted by Chad and Carey Hayes. The Annabelle sequence was based on an allegedly true case, an account of which can be found in Annabelle: The Cursed Doll by Taffy Sealyham. The doll in the case was a raggedy Anne that was reported to move by itself, and was investigated by the demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.

In the Conjuring, the raggedy Anne was replaced by a very sinister Victorian style doll that menaces a group of nurses. The nurses report to the Warrens that they’re ‘beyond terrified’ because they accidentally gave permission to the ghost of a little girl to inhabit the doll. Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) explains that in fact the ‘little girl’ was a demonic entity who intended to possess one of them. Annabelle gets locked in a glass cabinet in the Warren’s basement, and the doll only has an incidental role in the rest of the film.

There’s an often ignored rule in supernatural horror that less is more. The Annabelle sequence in The Conjuring is more effective for its insinuations than for what you actually see.

Annabelle Still 2The plot in Annabelle:Creation is as follows. In 1943, a dollmaker, Mullins and his wife lose their daughter in a tragic car accident. Twelve years later, they open their home to Sister Charlotte and the six orphan girls in her charge. The polio-crippled orphan, Janice, becomes haunted by a porcelain doll who is controlled by a demon. Sister Charlotte and the orphans are then subjected to a number of supernatural attacks.

One problem with the film is over-exposure. Those familiar with the earlier movies know what to expect from Annabelle. Whereas in the 2013 movie we have brief hints of her malevolent powers, in the 2017 movie we have the full banquet and this dilutes the effect. As mentioned, this is also a second prequel, and suffers from the perennial problem of diminished returns.

The second major problem is an unfocussed, over-busy script. There are too many characters and often too much happening. This significantly dilutes the effectiveness of the core scenes, and results in a messy climax. So Janice gets possessed in the barn, Mullins gets got by the demon then straightaway, Janice’s friend, Linda almost gets dragged down the well by pallid hands. Sister Charlotte levitates, the orphan teenagers try and fail to escape in the car. One gets cornered by a scarecrow in the barn, Linda flees to the blind waiter and gets menaced by a possessed Janice in a scary bedroom.

In this situation, it’s difficult to identify or even sympathise with the protagonists. The possession of Janice, for example, should be horrific, but in the end we’re so distracted from her plight by everything else that it’s actually difficult to care very much.

Annabelle still

This overstuffing of elements in a relatively short film of less than two hours also means that the pacing doesn’t quite work. Pacing is essential in supernatural horror because you need time to relax in between scares. Supernatural terror relies upon ‘negative spaces’ for its maximum effect: without them a film’s just a ghost train.

At one point Janice gets attacked in the house at night. A moment later, she’s relaxing in her wheelchair in the sun, when a nun-entity pushes her into the barn just in time for her possession via a ghost vomiting black slime. The pace is simply too fast for the emotional impact of the events to register.

These pacing problems mean that the director is forced to over-rely on jump scares. Jump scares, where tonally things are quiet AND THEN SUDDENLY REALLY LOUD are a substitute for proper plotting. They’re the cinematic equivalent of leaping out from behind a bush and shouting BOO!!! They are also the bane of modern horror movies.

So Annabelle: Creation fails to achieve its potential as a supernatural horror film. This is a shame, because even off-the-shelf modern gothic tropes can be effective with good characters and well constructed plots. That’s something to think about when binging on Netflix horror movies this Hallowe’en.

 

IMG_1200Matt Colborn is a freelance writer and academic with a doctorate in cognitive science. He has written for the Guardian as well as SFX and Interzone magazines. He writes across the spectrum of speculative fiction. He published a collection of short fiction, ‘City in the Dusk and Other Stories,’ in 2013 and is currently completing a novel. His website is at http://mattcolbornwriter.blogspot.co.uk

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Beware, there be spoilers: Slaughterhouse 5, by Jim Anderson

Reprinted from Jim Anderson’s Multijimbo blog of 4th August 2018.
https://multijimbo.com/

Slaughterhouse 5This might be Vonnegut’s most famous novel, the story of Billy Pilgrim.  Billy, like Vonnegut himself was, is an American soldier in World War 2 who survives the fire bombing of Dresden.

And it contains a lot more.  Billy starts traveling through time, bouncing back and forth to different points in his own life, his own time stream.  The aliens from Tralfamadore make an appearance.

And we start encountering other characters that we’d already met in earlier novels, and it is this aspect of Vonnegut’s art that I want to talk about.  We encounter Rumfoord, who we met earlier in The Sirens of Titan.  We spend more time with Kilgore Trout, the underappreciated science fiction writer whose work we’d read about in other novels.

And there are others – this isn’t intended to be an academic treatise and so I don’t feel the need to give a complete list.

Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

I’m sure that someone has gone through and done a detailed analysis of which characters appear or are mentioned in more than one of Vonnegut’s stories and novels, and has done the analysis of the extent to which Vonnegut’s world is internally consistent.

I should say that I don’t really care how internally consistent his world is.  I’m curious, but we have gotten used to long form stories set in internally inconsistent worlds, the Simpsons being a famous example.

I like Kilgore Trout’s ideas and titles, and it appears that I’m not the only one.  A quick run to amazon.co.uk reveals that Philip Jose Farmer wrote a novel under the pseudonym Kilgore Trout back in the 1970s, and there are others making (less appropriate) use of the name more recently.

I like these connections that Vonnegut makes between his novels through the characters, and I’m curious to see the extent to which he continues this as I continue on in my reading.

 

jim_andersonJim Anderson (available on-line at http://www.multijimbo.com) is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Southampton, and is also the Associate Dean (Education and Student Experience) for the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences. Beyond mathematics, he practices the traditional Japanese martial art of aikido and writes science fiction and fantasy.

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Rochita Loenen Ruiz Talks About the Milford Bursary for Writers of Colour

Each year, finances permitting, Milford invites writers of colour to apply for one of the two available bursary places. In 2017, our first bursary year, our writers were Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Nigeria) and Dolly Garland (UK). In our second year our bursary recipients were Nisi Shawl (USA) and Rochita Loenen Ruiz, a Filipina writer based in the Netherlands. We welcome applications from writers of colour from anywhere in the world. The only stipulation is that the writer has to have sold at least one speculative fiction short story to a recognised market, and they have to write in English. For details and application forms, take a look here. The bursary covers the cost of Milford and full accommodation and meals (though not transport to and from). We would love to hear from anyone out there interested in offering funding. You can see below, how much getting a bursary for Milford means.

Here is Rochita’s take on Milford 2018.

Rochita cropI had given up on writing.

Or at least I thought I had.

I lost my husband in 2015. After that, I lost my sister. In the same year that I lost my sister, I lost my father.

Each of these losses came at a moment when I thought to myself, let me pick up the pen and write again.

After a while, the losses overshadowed my desire to write. I looked at the words and they made no sense.

Well, I said to myself. I suppose this means writing has left me.

And I thought I should do my best to be happy without writing. And for a while, I really thought I was happy without the writing. Except I really wasn’t.

Every once in a while, I would go back to the written work. I would write. Run out of energy. Sink into despair.

‘There’s no point in courting the muse, when she’s not ready to be courted,’ is what I told myself.

So, when the email came from Jacey Bedford telling me that there had been a unanimous vote to offer me a bursary for the Milford writers workshop. I did not know how to answer. Could I go when I felt like the world’s shittiest writer?

How would I manage that? How could I possibly leave my children and go away for a week?

I thought of my sister and the conversation we had before we parted ways that final time.

‘You must write,’ she said. ‘If you stop writing, I’ll never talk to you again.’

The funny thing is how a good friend repeated those same words to me.

‘Go,’ she said. ‘You must go or I won’t speak to you again.’

The thing about receiving a bursary when you are lost in the wasteland is how it becomes a beacon in the darkness. For the first time in a long time, I began to hope.

As the days passed and as Milford took on a more solid form inside my head. The urge to write and to write more and to write something that meant something to me began to grow.

I then decided to let go of all my previous plans for what I should write and simply write as a way of reaching out to my sister.

I wrote a lot of words that ended up getting discarded, but I was writing almost everyday.

Nantlle Valley smThen, on a visit to the mountains, I felt my sister’s presence. I remembered how I used to be terrified of tumbling down the side of the mountain and of how I wouldn’t go down the mountainside to school if she didn’t come back up and hold my hand. Even when she was exasperated, she would climb back up to where I was, reach out her hand and take hold of mine. The memory of that moment is distilled in the novel excerpt I submitted to Milford.

Milford stays with me as a moment of brightness.  I learned from the work of my fellow writers, and I learned from the way they looked at the various works offered for criticque. 

More than the writing and the reading of the work and more than the getting to know other writers, I have become more convinced that there are more of us who would rather build bridges than walls. There is a grace in creating space where conversations and dialogues are possible without the harsh stridency we see in the world today.

I am very thankful to everyone who made my Milford week possible. I am thankful for the generosity and kindness of those who voted for me as one of the bursary recipients for 2018 and I am thankful for the individuals who made and who continue to make the bursary possible for the coming years.

On my second day in Wales, Liz Williams and Kari Sperring took me for a drive to the beach at Trefor. We walked and we talked, and on the way back we were gifted with the sight of a double rainbow stretching out over the waters. We stopped to take pictures and as we stood there, I felt very blessed. I was with beloved friends and I was writing again.

I wrote more than 10,000 words while I was at Milford and came home with close to a quarter of a novel.

I am writing still.

 

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Writing as Drawing by David Gullen

We all have our ways of doing things. When I’m plotting out a novel or a longer story I always start with pen and paper. I like to use my favourite fountain pen, and quartered sheets of A4.  I do something similar with a short story too, though I’ll probably just write down a few key things that anchor it. I’ll always use pen and paper.

DSCN4169There’s something about the process that works well for me, though I don’t know why. All I can say is there’s a connection between mind and eye and hand so they feel like three parts of one thing. Pen and paper stimulates and focusses my imagination and lets the ideas flow ­– though not in any order. I’ll brainstorm everything in a few sessions, one plot point, or scene, or character, or piece of dialogue per piece of paper.  I’ve found this much more useful than using a notebook because later on I can arrange and re-arrange the bits of paper into groups and piles – a structure starts to emerge.

At some point I’ll read through the stack of notes and off I’ll go again with more ideas, more bits of paper, and at least one recharge of the pen with fresh ink.

Back in June we were on what turned out to be a brilliant, happy, productive and relaxing two weeks in Cornwall. We’d hired a 1-bed beach cottage and our days became ones of early morning writing, beach walks and ice-cream, writing, pasties for lunch or supper, sea-swims, and conversations in the evening over a bottle of wine.

Someone had left a book in the cottage:  Between the Lines, Ba (Hons) Drawing, 2018, Falmouth University. It was fascinating to see pictures of the students’ work and read the comments each of them had written about their art and inspiration, and the connections some of them found between the paper and the pencil or brush in their hand with the concepts in their mind.

There were some suggested exercises in the back of the book. One of them was titled Automatic Writing is Drawing Too.  The instructions were simple: ‘Start Writing. Don’t think about the words until you’ve filled every bit of empty space.’

It was a good exercise but the concept startled me. Writing is drawing?  I pushed against the idea then realised they were right. Drawing is a way to communicate and express ideas on paper, and what is writing if not that? Writing with pen and paper really is a kind of drawing. It was obvious, I’d just never thought about it that way.

It made me wonder if that productive link between mind and hand and pen is really because when I do it I’m not writing or drawing, I’m doing both.

 

gullen-dkg1-2012David Gullen was born in Africa and baptised by King Neptune He has lived in England most of his life and has been writing short and long-form science fiction and fantasy for most of that. You can read his fantasy detective novel, The Girl from a Thousand Fathoms,  on Wattpad, or his eponymous web site. He is the current Chair of the Milford SF group.

 

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Constraints Are Your Friends by Sue Oke

image collage writingHave you ever noticed that the more constraints you face in your writing, the more creative you become? I used to write a collage piece with a group of writers—just for fun, you understand. This involved the giving and receiving of short phrases from everyone in the group, so that you end up with perhaps six unrelated phrases to work with. If working alone, you can choose random words/phrases from the book you are currently reading. The challenge then is to write a piece that incorporates all the phrases within ten minutes. As an additional constraint pick one of the phrases to start and finish the piece with.

The key to this exercise is NOT TO THINK. Put pen to paper and let the words flow. DO NOT STOP WRITING during the ten minutes. Grammar and spelling are not important. You can write a load of nonsense, at this point it really doesn’t matter. What you are doing is flexing the creative muscle. Have a go at it. You will be surprised at what the pen creates.

Random phrases I had to work with:

  • walking in single file
  • any number divided by itself
  • one long gaze at the world
  • bring me one child
  • one won the Derby
  • one tasted such delicious pineapple in Guadalupe
  • one across and two down
  • one does not gas badgers

And here’s the piece I produced in response to the phrases (rough and ready as I wrote it):

Bring me one child. Not two walking in single file down the long road to nowhere. Not any number divided by itself. Just one. Only one. The one that won the Derby, not the one that got away. Let him or her be clear skinned and clear eyed. One long gaze at the world, seeing only beauty, not the dross that skirts our lives. Let the child taste of delicious pineapple, the sweetest in Guadalupe. Lips licked, eyes hooded, badger-like. Only one will pass these gates, marked by posters decrying war and scratched messages that plead for kindness in the world.

One does not gas badgers or foxes or small children.

This place stands as a bastion in their defence. Windows stare blankly, one across and two down, a mismatched face that watches the road. Waiting for the only one that can save us. Fringed hair plastered flat by the rain, walking slow but determined, slight fingers wrapped in yours. Trusting. Such a taste, such a sight, a vision awaited with bated breath. To wait so long, gazing at the world.

Any number of feet tramping the dust, walking single file. But not one of them will do. He or she won the day, chosen by their village, their city, their state to journey here and save both badgers and children. This is not a selfless task, we who wait have promises to keep and promises to claim. So slice the pineapple, lick the juices and tell me that it is not delicious. Eyes that have seen the world can rest here, knowing that this community will not gas the badgers. That makes us feel safe. This is the right place.

Trace a finger along the window pane, moving lines, up and down, tracing patterns, a pineapple matrix. Whisper under your breath, give me a number, any number divided by itself and I will show you a prime child, just waiting to blossom. Sun and water, light and love––all will blossom here, nurtured within crumbling walls behind dusty windows. So, I ask you one more time. No, I demand it. Bring me one child.

Off you go. Generate your own random words and phrases and work that Creative Muscle!

Sue Oke headshot colourSusan Oke worked in the UK Higher Education sector for thirteen years before surrendering to her passion for writing. She spends every minute she can spare writing and has had short stories published in anthologies, magazines and podcasts. As the Review Editor first for Vector, and now for the BSFA Review, Susan gets to read lots of books—her favourite pastime, when she isn’t writing––and edit copy (another fun job, which she genuinely enjoys!). Susan is an active member of several critiquing groups and works part-time as an English tutor. You can view her blog and read samples of her work at: susanmayoke.com

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