A Twist in the Tale

I spent most of Thursday pondering a project I’d been asked to do in the wake of ‘Cthul-You’ airing on BBC7. The Beeb have an Audio Music Festival happening soon as part of which the Festival Live radio station will be playing to staff throughout Broadcasting House. I’m guessing Festival Live isn’t just music, becuase they’ve commissioned a five minute story called A Twist in the Tale, named such becuse it will have five alternate endings, one of which I was asked to write. The actual twist was that the deadline was basicaly the next day. Pretty tight, but hey, it was only 200 words.

They told me to use my imagination, at which point my imagination promptly deserted me. For an entire day. Inbetween organising two sets of publicity for different projects at work I kept trying to think of imaginative ideas, but the field of my subconscious was barren. Once home I plumped down in front of the laptop and spent two hours typing variations of the same first line and then deleting them again. After dinner I forced myself to write an idea I didn’t even half believe in and then realised it was naff. At which point I gave up.

Three hours, four cups of tea and two episodes of Deep Space Nine later the idea I’d been waiting for finaly turned up. ‘She’s a robot!’ I thought, and then exactly 28 minutes later it was done.

Where the hell ideas come from I’ll never know, although if anybody has any…ideas…about it then please share them with the class. The best one I’ve encountered to date is from Terry Pratchett, who thinks ideas are like pollen, just floating about on the breeze waiting to impregnate someone or something with a suitably fertile brain. They certainly don’t seem particularly related to the conscious mind, in fact anything that helps you switch of the higher brain functions seems to work wonders for conception. In my case that seems to be episodes of Deep Space Nine, but I wouldn’t gueantee that working for everyone.

A Twist in the Tale goes out next week I think, and I’ll post my ending up here after that.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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