Tag Archives: Relationships

Into The Unknown (aka No Sex Please, I’m British)

Writing what you know only gets you so far, and unless you’re writing a memoir, that’s not very far at all. All fiction involves, by definition, making stuff up: getting into the heads and lives of people who are not quite like yourself and then translating what you find onto the page.

Some writers love research. They are never happier than in the library, interviewing and shadowing other people, and generally immersing themselves in the lives they want to write about, and that’s great for them. It’s not for me; I find research slow and laborious; I find myself struggling to remember everything I’ve learned, and struggling to convert it into useful story. This is one of the reasons I tend to write reasonably close to home; realistic fiction instead of the epic fantasy or historical worlds of some of my friends and idols.

But whether you write close to home or years and light-years away, there are always details about which we need to know a little more. One of the subjects that can be a small but important element of that, is relationships and sex. However wild and crazy one’s youth (and my parents read this, so let’s just agree “not and not”), when one has been straight-forwardly married for a while, one’s memory and experience of such things tends to be limited.

And whilst one can get information vicariously, through friends and books, sex tends to be a subject people don’t like to talk about in anything but the broadest terms, and relationships tend to be presented with a gloss too. But good fiction often requires variety and realism – even if we stay away from explicit Shades of Grey / Harlequin / Mills and Boon -type writing, we may need to conjure happy and unhappy relationships, cheating or exploitation, fantasies and arguments. We need to demonstrate not just what happened, but how it felt and impacted the characters afterwards.

A friend recently told me about the Casual Sex Project. Before you fret, don’t worry, it doesn’t require participation. This is a website where real people, anonymously post real experiences of sex outside a romantic relationship. It’s eye-opening, occasionally eye-popping, and very graphic, so not for those of a prudish or sensitive disposition (and not for your work laptop / internet connection).

If you’re looking to write, even allude to, a character’s sexual experience that’s beyond your own – it’s an interesting resource. And much less cringe-worthy than asking your Facebook friends if they would help you describe what it feels like to have an affair / screw the teacher / sleep with your best friend’s boyfriend while she’s asleep in the same bed / whatever.

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InMon – The Doctor Is Sick

I hesitate to post this story for two reasons. One, it opens up a discussion about Dr Who, which I don’t follow and don’t want to follow; two, the post contains swearing, for which I can only apologise and blame the character.
However, when this week’s InMon prompts came into my inbox, I was caught by the phrase “The Doctor is Sick,” and this story wouldn’t go away until I wrote it. So here you are, please enjoy. And please don’t ask me anything about the Dr – Janice is much more up on these things than I am!

The Doctor Is Sick

“It’s Liz now,” her niece, Bella, had declared over the phone this morning. “Bella is a baby name.”

Janice hadn’t argued. She’d always dreamed of being the Cool Aunt: someone her niece and nephews would look forward to spending time with and be able to confide in when they couldn’t talk to their parents. So if Bella wanted to be called Liz, Liz it would be.

She carefully pulled the gift tag off the biggest parcel under her tree and wrote a new one. “Merry Christmas, Liz. Hope these are as sick as the new ones. Love, Auntie Jan x”

Sick, apparently, was a good thing and Janice was rather pleased with her gift. Last time she’d been over there, Bella had been glued to the television and the latest episode of Dr Who, so Janice had dug in the attic, pulled out all her VHS tapes of old episodes and had them put onto DVDs. Then she’d spent hours on the computer, making covers that were exactly like the old ones, but fit into the new sleeves. It had taken her hours, but this was finally a way they could reconnect, so she wanted to exploit it.

* * *

Janice left the other adults in the kitchen and wandered back to the living room. There was wrapping paper strewn everywhere. The boys were fighting with their foam swords and she realised she should have moved a few more ornaments, but resisted the temptation to grab them now lest it make her nephews self-conscious about their game.

Liz was curled up in the armchair tapping on her phone. She looked up at Janice.

“Thank you for my present,” she said, the lack of emotion clear in the spaces between the words. She was saying it because she’d been taught to.

Janice was confused. “I used to watch Doctor Who a lot, I thought you might enjoy a bit of the back-story.”

“They’re all on Netflix,” Liz muttered and looked back to her phone.

“Oh,” said Janice. “But there’s nothing like having your own copies.”

“No. Thank you.” Again, the tone was wooden, and Liz didn’t look up.

“I imagine Slyvester McCoy is a bit different from David Tennant. Not as good-looking, for a start.”

Liz seemed to realise she wasn’t going to get out of this conversation. She put her phone to one side. “He was the Tenth Doctor,” Liz said. “Do you actually know anything about it?”

Janice saw the opening, but not the trap within. “I know Daleks can’t climb stairs.”

“Jesus! Stop trying so hard to be my friend!” Liz stood up, grabbed her phone and flounced into the kitchen. “Daleks can fucking fly!” she yelled over her shoulder.


Filed under Inspiration Monday, Writing

Friday Fiction – Schrodinger’s Hesitation

The writing Gods are demanding this month – NaNoWriMo, Voice Week, a collab project I’m involved in culminates on 30th, and I’m still trying to keep up with my regular posting schedule. So please forgive me if it takes a while to read your comments, or any of the other FF stories. Mine’s below. The prompt is from Al Forbes and – as ever – Rochelle is our lead scientist. you can find the other stories through her blog.

By the way, this is what happens when you look at the picture for a second, then go off to get the baby up. By the time you get back, the story idea in your head is so far from the prompt as to be largely irrelevant (I now realize it’s probably not even a door but a window!). Anyway, too late – inspiration not illustration, right???


Schrodinger’s Hesitation

At the threshold to a new doorway, anything’s possible. Sandy knew that, and it gave her hope. Like that cat in a box that might be dead or alive, and you didn’t know until you opened the box. Not just didn’t know, it was both. Infinite possibilities.

But, she thought, if she were the scientist, she might leave the box closed. Leave the cat at least partly definitely alive.

That’s how she felt now, holding Ben’s jacket in one hand and the mysterious hotel bill in the other. If she didn’t confront him, she could remain at least partly happy.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

Inspiration Monday – Don’t let them see you’re afraid

Another great week of prompts from BeKindRewrite, so here’s my little story for your perusal. Comments and critique are always welcome. I’ll be away from decent internet most of the next couple of days, so please forgive me if it takes a while to read your comments.

The Dogs

I’ve been scared of them ever since I can remember – those teeth and the eyes that look at you with a pleading desperation that can flip instantly into murderous rage. My sister used to tell me not to be afraid, but her reasoning was neither helpful nor reassuring. “They can sense fear,” she said. “It makes them more likely to attack.”

Now I’m surrounded by them, and I’m thinking to myself “Don’t let them see you’re afraid,” and it’s only making me feel worse. Now I’m scared they will know I’m scared, and therefore attack me, which makes me scared. And on top of that, I’m trying to look like I’m not scared because this is my first time at David’s house and what’s he going to think of me if I burst into tears at the sight of his beloved mutts?

The black one stands higher than my waist. David says that Plato is a softy, just wants his stomach rubbed. But that stomach is waaay too close to those dinner plate paws and a drooling jawline that makes me quiver. Plato is the largest of the four, but it’s Dolly who I’m having most difficulty not being scared of. Apparently, she “nips affectionately” to greet new people. I do not wish to be nipped, affectionately or otherwise, and Dolly has her mouth open already, like she is just picking out the more affectionate limb to tear off. The other two are smaller, and I don’t even know if it’s Shane or Rattle who is chewing the laces on my shoe, and Rattle or Shane who has his front paws on my knee and his teeth bared at my crotch. Either way, my head is screaming “Get them off” and I’m certain they are all sensing my fear, planning their attack.

Suddenly, they back off in a single military retreat. It frightens me almost more than their ad hoc attacks, because there is real strength in this show of unity. But I am safe, David has come back out. He offers a glass to my shaking hand. I take it and knock back the contents, disappointed that it is only coke, and not the whiskey I needed.

“This isn’t going to work,” I say quickly, trying not to let David see how much that hurts. “It’s not you, I just can’t…” I look around the yard. The hounds of the Baskervilles are all lolling around in the sun, looking cute and fluffy and more harmless than my Grandma’s cat. “I’m just not ready for people to know about me yet,” I say. And it’s the truth, just not the one he thinks it is.


Filed under Inspiration Monday, Writing