642 Things to Write About is going very well. I am nineteen things down, six hundred and twenty three to go and the book is already turning out to be the best present I’ve had so far this year. As Po Bronson says in the intro, it’s a lesson in self potential. I’ve been surprising myself with some of the stuff I’ve come up with over the last couple of weeks. There have been slow days, when the next topic on the list just hasn’t thrilled me (“Describe something you wanted badly and then never used”), but most of them have been great fun. Here are a couple of my favourites so far:
1) Write a story that begins with a ransom note arriving. (I couldn’t think of a story, but I had great fun doing the ransom note).
We – the Black Horse gang – have your entire collection of jewelled stuffed ostriches (Yes; all nine hundred of them. Go and count the empty pedestals in your private museum if you don’t believe me). For their safe and un-plucked return, we demand season tickets to Manchester United’s Trafford Road stadium, six full courses of sushi, a monkey capable of ironing shirts, five quad bikes all with pink fluffy dice, ten forty-foot shipping containers filled with gold bullion, the Mona Lisa and six tonnes of frozen haddock. Have the ransom delivered to Liverpool street station and thrown through the window of carriage sixteen of the 17.35 train to Basingstoke just as it reaches full speed leaving the station. (The window will be open. Have your delivery man dressed as a banana for easy recognition). Do this and your dead birds will be returned unharmed. Otherwise; we have several pairs of electric barber’s clippers and I am not afraid to use them!
Love and kisses,
2) Write a scene where the only dialogue is “Uh-huh”, “Umm”, “Urrrr” and“Mm-Mmm”.
Int. A living room. Day. Sam is reading sitting in an armchair with his feet up reading the newspaper. Jake enters carrying a stuffed chameleon, artfully arranged on a log, with its mouth open and long pink tongue sticking straight out in the process of snatching a stuffed fly stuck to the end. He holds it up for Sam to see.
Sam nods with approval.
Jake places the chameleon on the coffee table, shifts it into a position he likes and looks at Sam.
Sam shakes his head, twisting his lip.
Jake takes the chameleon and tries placing it on the side table between two Ming vases.
Sam shakes his head again. It still looks ghastly.
Jake takes the chameleon across the room and tries it on the mantelpiece. There is a mirror, so the chameleon and its tongue and fly are fully reflected.
Sam tilts his head, frowning, unsure.
Jake turns the chameleon around, so the end of its tongue touches the mirror, making it look as if it is snatching the fly off the glass. The chameleon is fully reflected and we can see down it’s stuffed throat. Sam’s face twists with revulsion. He shakes his head.
Jake takes the chameleon down and looks around. Then he snaps his fingers, walks across the room and places it ontop of one of the cabinets. The chameleon stands out clearly against the floral wallpaper. Sam looks unsure.
He starts to shake his head again, but Jake motions for him to wait. He takes a remote control out of his pocket, points it at the chameleon and presses one button. Immediately, the chameleon’s skin changes colour as it blends in perfectly with the floral wall paper. Jake looks at Sam, who nods with approval.
He gives Jake a thumbs up. They high-five and Jake puts the remote down on the table next to the TV remote and exits. Long pause as Sam finishes reading the paper. He closes it and puts it down and, without looking at what he’s doing, reaches for the TV remote. He picks up the chameleon remote by mistake, points it at the TV and presses one button. The TV promptly changes colour, blending into the floral wall paper.
More to come soon.