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27 February 2023

Posted by Tabby Hayward

Help Yourself: Prompt Sharing and Devising

This week, we welcomed everyone back after half term (including a couple of new faces!) and started off by sharing reading recommendations (which have been added to our new group Padlet, along with shared writing prompts and competitions and opportunities!)

Next, on a shared Google doc, everyone in the group posted 1) a name for a character, 2) a place (e.g. kitchen/bus stop/spaceship), 3) a kind of relationship (e.g. cousin/first love/arch enemy) and 4) a line of speech.

Then everyone chose someone else's name, place, relationship and line of speech from the list. After 5 minutes of free writing to consider some background for the character and who the second character might be - and why they were in the setting - the writers used the first line of dialogue to get started. And here are some of the extremely varied and creative examples!

By Tara:

Oranges and sour lemons

Looking out over the ocean and back towards the party. The hoards of people on the beach, just for a moment, Dizzy’s facade faded.

‘What’s your obsession with oranges anyway?’ 
Spike spoke reflectively. Dizzy’s responses would be drenched in pauses. 
Spikey Mikey, had much less in the way of spikes now and he turned to really hear him. 
‘I feel really fuckin’ old’ Dizzy told him, scratching and gesturing towards his greying head. ‘This used to feel like our kingdom’. 

Spikey felt present to him. Him being there was a present, but an uncomfortable one. 
Spike, Mikey, the man of many names, took it all in his stride, as Dizz floated from one topic to another.
‘The oranges help me. Soothe sometimes. Like a smoker, trying to wean himself off and needing something, anything’ 
He half -laughed, as he heard himself say it.

The lights flickered and the sun was starting to set. The arms in the air felt like a wave of acceptance and community, in multi-coloured, glorious, rainbow hues.
A sky that lit up the beach.

Mike leaned in, ‘Why did I never hear from you Dizz?’ He knew the answer already, but just wanted to hear it said.
‘I was just so ashamed. Look at me, trying to get clean among a nineties resurgence that makes me feel past it.
And a world I could easily collapse into, with little effort’

Spike relates, ‘It’s OK when you’re twenty’

‘I know, I know’ 

Dizzy wandered where all that went and how they turned from being university flatmates, to someone you’d bump into, from another life, at a haunted drug den.

‘You and I were mates, you know.
‘I really loved you, mate, but.. (he pauses) 
‘I was spiralling. And, look at me now, a 54 year old DJ, looking over the same party scene I’ve been inhabiting for years.
I really have no idea what else to do’


(continuation, later on in story)

The cereal was fighting back against Spike, lying on the floor shivering. Half in and half out of his sleeping bag. He saw the Cheerios lined up in military formation. It is incredible what the brain can do.
‘I can never escape it’ Dizz kept repeating. It was the most he had touched the emotion of reality in years.
All those years ago, this is what he was trying to tell me. 
Dizzy did remember someone later walking in in a unicorn onesie. No body knew, or cared, why. Something about stolen clothes. Or exchange of clothes.
The transaction and the spike on his head that was badly damaged, made any talk of escaping anything, temporarily obsolete. 

By Charlotte:

Dizzy: I beg of you please, shut up.
Winter: Why? Don’t you want to hear what I have to say or are you just
being annoying on purpose.
Dizzy: Annoying?! I’m not the one who went halfway across the world
without telling anyone and then just suddenly appeared in someone’s
kitchen eating a…. What is that?
Winter: A tangerine. Can you tell no one has restocked the fridge?
Dizzy: Where have you been? I’ve been calling for weeks and no reply.
Winter: Important business and in any case being a phone operator you
could have found out yourself.
Dizzy: If you’re inferring I listen to other people’s phone calls…
Winter: Wouldn’t dream of it but there are rumours.
Dizzy: Well if you were a friend then you wouldn’t listen to those rumours
then would you.
Dizzy: Where have you been Winter? We’ve all been worrying.
Winter: I never noticed how nice tangerine’s are. I guess going to a
country that doesn’t exactly have them all the time, you miss them.
Dizzy: You’re changing the subject.
Winter: I’m an expert in that didn’t you know? We’re trained from when
we start. Keeps everyone on their toes.
Dizzy: Or just pushes their buttons.
Winter: Yeah or that.
Dizzy: So have you got it or have I come here for no reason and you’ve
just pulled another one of your tricks?
Winter: Why didn’t you say so?
(Winter passes Dizzy something.)
Dizzy: Thanks. Now, is it another one of your disappearing acts or are
you actually staying for once?
Winter: If I knew the food was this good I would have said the latter. No,
I'm not for the foreseeable future.
Dizzy: What do I tell the others?
Winter: Nothing. Fleming said he would cover for me and tell them he
sent you the documents instead. They don’t need to know for now.
Dizzy: When will that now become a yes? Another year?
Winter: You’ll see.
(Winter goes to leave.)
Dizzy: We can’t keep meeting like this.
(Winter doesn’t say anything. He just looks back and then leaves before
Dizzy could question him any further.)

By Aurora:

It is the far future, in the aftermath of a nuclear war between Dictator-led Russia, China and North Korea and Democracy-led United States of America, Canada and European Union. Humans have become mostly underground creatures, venturing to the surface only to gather food and occasional resources. In their place, nature has come back to the world in a big way, with much of the urbanised earth being overtaken by plant life and flora, as well as a number of creatures that have evolved to a level of human intelligence. Of these, dolphins rule the seas, crows the air, and a combination of anthropomorphs rule the land. Alexander Crook is a crocodilian; he and his brother Hennessey are scavenging the ruins of London that are considered the nesting ground of the corvids, their territory and turf. In other words, dangerous.

Hennessey: So, what is your sudden obsession with oranges about?

Alexander: Keep it quiet H. We don’t want good King John and his armies to descend upon us, now, do we?

He points up to the open sky through the cracked ceiling of Buckingham Palace. Grotesque crow-like harpies fly overhead, making the brothers drop to the ground.

H: Well, I’m just saying, they’re not exactly easy to come by. With how much you pissed off Lord Lawrence the Raggedy Whiskers, that’s every good landing spot in Spain down the drain.

A: Lawrence the Mighty, Hennessey.

H: I think Lawrence the Raggedy Whiskers is more accurate.

The corvids pass. The brothers stand again and keep walking.

A: I’ve acquired a taste for them is all.

H: More like an addiction.

A: Enough, Hennessey.

H: Alright, alright.


What are we actually looking for again?

A: [Sigh] Anything of value. Guns and ammunition from the old guardhouses. Carpets that could be patched up without too much issue. Use your brain, or whatever you have beneath those scales that keeps your legs moving.

H: Gold?

A: Only the corvids give a shit about gold, let them keep it.


Though if they spot us it might be good as a distraction. Small baubles, then. Anything that shines well.

H: Right-o.

He wanders off to find something useful, in his mind. Alexander heads for the barracks, whose roof has half collapsed and the rest is propped up by a pair of tree-like vines.

A: Alright, let’s see what we’ve got here.

Not much. A few jammed rifles, only one in a workable condition that he finds in a box beneath a fallen stone brick. A good bit of ammunition, however, which he collates in a pouch on his belt. He looks out a hole in the wall to the palace grounds, overrun by long grasses and trees that stretch 20 feet high. A squirrel the size of a mastiff digs its claws into a tree trunk as it climbs, before being swooped down on and grasped by a corvid, which carries it squealing into the sky. He hears the corvid curse and, after a few seconds and seeing it fly off towards the Tower of London, sees the first drop of rain fall.

Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit.

Alexander runs back into the main hall. Already rain is falling through the roof, saturating the weeds and the stones.

Hennessey? Hennessey!

Hennessey reappears at the top of some nearly-crumbles stairs. His arms are filled with gold and jewels.

H: What? You found an orange tree?

A: The corvids can’t fly in the rain, and this is the only decent spot for them to shack up to wait it out, so move your ass, we need to get going!

The gravity of the situation dawns on Hennessey.

H: Oh, shit.

The sounds of shrieks can be heard in the distance. It’s corvids yelling at each other, their hoarse voices rapidly growing closer.

Ohhhh, SHIT!


They both drop to their stomachs and start crawling out into the grass, hoping the corvids don’t see them. Looking back at the palace, Alexander sees seven corvids drop through the roof, screaming at each other. He’s so pre-occupied looking back at them, he’s not paying attention to what’s above him.


Hennessey shoves Alexander over, and within milliseconds is within the claws of a corvid. The corvids are seven feet tall with ten foot wingspans, dead black eyes and feathers covered in black oil. They quite literally look like the incarnation of death.


Alexander watches as the corvid drags Hennessey up into the air.


Hennessey is carried off towards the refuge of Buckingham Palace. Alexander attempts to load the barely-workable rifle, but it slips in the water and by the time he has it ready to aim, the corvid is beneath the tattered roof. Swearing in his heart to return for his brother, Alexander once again falls to his stomach and runs off towards the Thames, which will soon begin to flood.


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