Thanks for submitting your story to the Fankle. We had a lot of submissions this time around and in the end we weren’t able to use yours. However, the next issue will be a flash fiction special so we’re looking for very short stories (on any theme) of up to 250 words, but the shorter the better. If this has whetted your appetite for stories, then perhaps you might want to give it a go
Thanks again for your submission.’
So whilst I’m not in this edition of the magazine at least it seemed to be an invitation to try again and that’s something I fully intend to do. 250 words isn’t a lot to play with but then again Orson Welles was happy with six words in the past.
I’ve just finished my first piece of creative short story writing for about 12 years. Whilst I’ve written a fair few scripts in that time I haven’t really had the desire to return to anything like story writing, my first reaction to any new idea was to ask how it would pan out as a movie. There’s a local publication dedicated to writing from this area and I thought I’d try and get something in for their next issue, as an exercise to see if I could still write short fiction. The deadline is August 31st so if you live in Dumfries and Galloway and you fancy a crack at it then I’d get moving now. I’ve submitted a piece which actually has its roots in something I wrote whilst at school. It’s been shortened down a fair bit seeing as I only had 850 words to play with but I knew the pacing inside out so it was a safe bet as a testing ground to get the creative writing flow back after all these years.
It’s a sketch, little more than that which does have slight frustrations. A few years ago, back in college, I was doing a creative writing module as part of my course. We all had to write poems, recite them and receive feedback on what we had written. I went at it purely for laughs with something about everybody avoiding a Big Issue seller in Glasgow. My tutor, a man who I respect and admire greatly to this day, said that whilst it was good it felt a bit ‘poetry lite’. It might have irked me a bit at the time but I’ve come to realise exactly what he meant.
Comedy is really hard to get right but when it does go well, it’s pretty much unbeatable. This said however, it’s often the case that I’ll try and go down the funny route even when I’m trying to write dark drama or make a serious point. Whilst I never had to use comedy as a ‘defense mechanism’ in school to prevent bullying I do end up using it as a defense in my writing. Essentially, if I can lighten the mood then I try to but it’s mainly to avoid anything too bleak.
Hopefully, nobody at The Fankle will mind and it’ll be included as the curio it’s meant to be. I’ve decided to have a simple rule of not publishing any writing on this blog unless it’s been published elsewhere. It would be very easy just to stick it on this block without much thought and move on but that seems a little bit too self important and unregulated. If somebody else deems it worthy of publication then I’ll link it to them.
The story is called ‘Uncle Roger’ and I’ll know if it’s been accepted in the first week of September.
I’ve spent the day redrafting the game show stage play into something that’s just about readable to the outside world. There’s a list of various pointers that read like a software update bug fix. The ending ten minutes are a stand up set in which the main character gives up every thing he’s written down and has a small scale nervous breakdown brought on by gin consumption. This sounds wonderfully straight forward until you factor in that the play takes place on 1986 therefore the humour has to be of the time. Whilst I wrote a good few jokes for that section most of them felt out of place as a result of the setting and had to be dumped.
I’ve also toned down the political aspects of the play. In the first draft there was a lot of references to striking workers, most of the darkness between scenes was caused by power cuts and the lack of electricity is a major reason for the delay in filming this episode of the game show which gives the story its drive in the first place. I had a rather clumsy opening in which the main character aligned himself with Thatcher and expressed his disgust with those ‘sat at home not contributing’. It was horribly ham fisted and needed to go so it’s been cut down to a line or two. I could have gone down the political route with it but I cannot get around the fact that I’d be too heavy handed with it. It does feel a little bit like shying away and pushing the comedic elements forward to cover for it but I’d much rather write a sharp, funny script than an overblown one. Time will tell as to if this is a mistake or not.
I’ll probably leave the script alone again for a few days just for the changes to settle. In the meantime I’m trying to get a short piece of writing done for ‘The Fankle’. I haven’t written anything short story related for about 12 years however so I can’t imagine how this one will go.