Keep plugging

Dear Readers,

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m performing the How To Write Badly Well live show at three different festivals in the UK:

Sat 2nd July, 8pm – The Page is Printed Literature Festival at the Tacchi Morris Arts Centre in Taunton.

Mon 11th July, 7:30pm – Poetry CafĂ© at the Frome Festival (also, I’ll be on the panel for Writers’ Question Time on Sun 10th, 2pm at Frome Library).

Sat 16th July, 5pm – The Literary Salon at Latitude Festival (I’ll also be compering over in the Poetry Arena all weekend – come and say hello).

I realise this is only geographically relevant to around 15% of you, but if any of our American or Australian friends would like to hop on a plane and come along, I’ll buy you a drink when I see you.

As always, the show is available in its entirety on YouTube for those of you too lazy and/or foreign to come along and see it.

All the best,

Explain how clever you are

I was perambulating unassumingly along the boulevard (this being the correct term for the particular, almost arbour-like (although not, it must be pointed out, arbouresque), thoroughfare upon which I was located) on a solstitial morning in June (I mention the precise month only because I fear my peracute polyonymy might bamboozle you by dint of sheer perspicuity) when I happened upon (or, indeed, happened to happen upon, depending on the degree of predestination or otherwise your own philosophy, dear reader, allows you to countenance) a particularly dentigerous (which is to say, imbued with a denticulated maw of considerable significance) specimen of Canis Lupus Familiaris (of the order Carnivora, the class Mammalia, the phylum Chordata and, as I am sure you have ascertained by this point, the kingdom Animalia). This, as you will shortly realise, was a chance happening (again, the question of fate in this scenario is, as you might put it, “up for grabs”) imbued with a not inconsiderable semiological heft. For now, though, do not overtax yourself with interpretive endeavours, dear reader; all (inasmuch as such a term can be applied to the, I’m sure you can find no way to adequately deny, infinitely fractured world in which we reside) shall be revealed.

Craft ambiguous similes

Susan stepped out into the busy road like a country lane, causing traffic to screech to a halt like nails on a blackboard. She stood for a moment, letting the wind whistle past her like a wind chime and the silence fill her ears like shells.
‘Get out of the road!’ yelled an obese taxi driver like a sack of blubber. Susan paid him no attention. She was calm, not letting her thoughts turn to panic, like a still pond.
‘It’s okay,’ she said, feeling as unflappable, placid and content as a dead bird’s wing. The taxi driver’s eyes widened like a child at Christmas.
‘Out of the road!’ he repeated, his voice a furious scream, like a stuck record.

COMEBACK WEEK #5: Kill off key characters

On his forehead, Dash felt a trickle of sweat trickle down his forehead.
‘You see,’ said Colonel Daringman, handling his LaserBlasterGun carefully in his hand with care, ‘I knew that the only way to destroy you was through your sense of duty. Your sense of adventure. Your lack of a sense of where the sensible limits of risk are.’
‘So you sent me on a suicide mission?’ Dash growled with a growl.
‘Not quite,’ the Colonel frowned. ‘I knew you would never commit suicide on a suicide mission, so I sent you on a killing-you-with-a-dangerous-mission mission.’
‘You fiend!’ shrieked Samantha, fainting. ‘How could you?’
‘Let me show you,’ Daringman hissed with a hiss, stepping over the unconscious beauty. Dash felt the air around grow thick with the slowing of time as time seemed to slow. In that one fatal instant, he could see the energy beam emerging from the muzzle of the LaserBlasterGun as if it was space-ketchup coming out of a space-bottle. In actual fact, he knew it was moving at the speed of light or faster as it crawled through the air towards him like a baby made of deadly laser energy being fired from a gun. He was powerless to move, powerless to cry out or even to think. Time slowed again. The closer his death came – the laser baby dawdling now – the slower time seemed to get. In the last instant, the one that seemed to go on forever, he felt a sensation like a weight being lifted from him. For an infinite moment, he knew everything. Then, Dash Gallant, Captain of the Star Corps, hero of the battle of Tor’Sang, the only man ever to escape a Mhal-Evol’Unt interrogation unit, closed his eyes for the last time and joined the ranks of the dead.

COMEBACK WEEK #4: Alienate your existing readership

‘It’s good to see you, Samantha,’ purred Dash, his velvety voice as smooth as silk. ‘I can’t think of anyone I’d rather come back to.’
‘I feel the same way,’ purred Samantha, her velvety voice as smooth as silk. ‘And to think that some of these pilots come back from a dangerous mission and the only person there to greet them is their maintenance robot.’
‘Yes, can you imagine?’ purred Dash, his velvety voice as smooth as silk. ‘What kind of person would form a deep personal bond with something as stupid as an adorable robot sidekick? That’s the kind of childish conceit than only an idiot would enjoy.’
After laughing for a minute or two, Dash paused, alert. Amid the hilarity, he could hear the unmistakable sound of a LaserBlasterGun powering up. He turned around. Colonel Daringman was coolly pointing his weapon directly at Dash’s chest.
‘You weren’t supposed to come back,’ purred the Colonel, his velvety voice as smooth as silk. ‘But you just don’t learn, do you?’

COMEBACK WEEK #3: Introduce new characters

‘It’s good to have you back, Gallant,’ spoke Colonel Daringman. ‘And there’s someone else here who I know will be particularly pleased to see you.’ He turned to a technician, who was just standing there, awe-struck with awe. ‘Where’s Fumblebot?’ he barked with his voice.
‘I’m here, Colonel,’ said a seductive female voice from behind Dash. ‘I wouldn’t miss this for the universe.’ Dash spun round.
‘Samantha Fumblebot,’ he gasped with a gasp. ‘As beautiful as ever.’
‘Oh, you,’ laughed Fumblebot. ‘Three months of being missing presumed dead on an ice planet and you haven’t lost any of your charm.’
‘No,’ grinned Dash, grinning. ‘Just a few of my toes.’

COMEBACK WEEK #2: Change important aspects of your franchise

Sprint laughed, pulling his friend to him in an entirely heterosexual bear hug and squeezing him tenderly.
‘Don’t trust them,’ the engineer whispered, his voice dropping to a whisper. ‘Star Corps command. They’re not who you think they are.’ Before Dash could respond, or free himself from the now uncomfortably long embrace, he heard a warm voice addressing him warmly.
‘Well, aren’t you a sight for sore space-eyes?’
Dash looked up. Colonel Daringman was striding across the landing bay with long strides, a wide smile on his smiling face. In an instant, Dash knew something was different. His Space-Zen instincts told him that Daringman was a traitor at the very least and quite possibly a shape-shifting Mhal-Evol’Unt agent. From now on, Dash knew he wouldn’t be able to trust anyone. From now on, he was on his own – a maverick space-cowboy operating outside the restrictions of the military command structure. Also, he suddenly realised that he had never known who his father was and maybe he should start being motivated by the desire to find out.

COMEBACK WEEK #1: Return from an unannounced hiatus as if nothing has happened

Dash Gallant stepped out of the airlock with a step. A hiss of OxyAir hissed around him as he swaggered manfully across the threshold. Amazed gasps of amazement, similar to the hissing hiss of the OxyAir aerotubes, but slightly more organic in their nature coming, as they did, from the mouths of the spaceport technical crew, came from the mouths of the spaceport technical crew.
‘What did I miss?’ Dash guffawed winningly. An overalled figure in a grey overall sprinted up to him and clapped a hand on his shoulder with a delighted clap.
‘Only the whole sprocking war!’ the figure, who was the figure of Engineering Chief Gellard Sprint, joked. ‘Where the sprock were you?’
‘Here and there,’ shrugged Dash. ‘I’ll tell you about it later, over a cold bottle of Hoertellian Spurg.’