Exercise from a creative writing course I recently completed: Imagine a beach. On the beach is a door that leads to an attic. You go into the attic. Write about what you find there.


       The attic was bare. The floorboards rough and uneven. As I walked across them I stumbled from side to side as they threatened to topple me over or collapse under my weight. Sunlight from the blue sky outside flooded in through a single skylight, illuminating one side of the room. In the shafts of light particles of dust and sand danced, blown by a gentle breeze that drifted in through the cracks in the roof tiles. Beyond the reach of the light rays, at the far end of the attic, it was murky and gloomy. The only object in the attic sat there, silhouetted as a dark rectangle against the rough white-washed wall. As I moved closer I could make out faded colours, once bright reds, yellows and blues, now pastel and meek. A toy box. Outside I could hear the seagulls and the gentle crash of the waves hitting the sun-kissed beach. Those noises faded away as I crept across the creaking floorboards towards the toy box.

            In the dancing, shifting dust and sand particles an image formed. Two small children, a boy and a girl, playing with each other. The boy slightly taller, broader, with wide blue eyes, blonde hair and a chubby face. The girl petite, lighter, dancing around, a free spirit with wild hair that flew in every direction as she moved. As the girl skipped around, the boy watched. A broad smile broke across his face and an infectious laugh drifted through the attic. The dancing girl smiled back at him and carried on, spinning round and round. Her laughter mixed with his and their innocent joy filled the deserted attic, bringing light to the dark spaces. She moved faster and faster, swirling the dust and sand around them until the breeze disappeared and the image faded as the dust settled on the bare floorboards.

            I moved forwards towards the far wall, where the old wooden toy box sat. Through the dusty gloom I reached out and felt the cool painted surface. The paint had flaked off in places, leaving rough edges across the smooth finish. I opened the box. One item lay at the bottom. I reached in and picked it up, it was feather-light in my hands, soft and grey. I stroked the surface and felt the plush material under a layer of collected dust. I brought it up to my face and rubbed it across my cheek. As I did so I caught a long forgotten scent. The hospital ward where we had spent so much time long before. I held the soft, cuddly, grey object to my cheek and tears began to run down my face. The laughter drifted through the attic again and I smiled. I put the object back in the toy box and closed the lid gently. I kissed my fingers and lay them on top of the toy box. I retreated across the uneven floorboards feeling light and at peace, no longer stumbling. I opened the door and returned to the sunlight, closing the attic door, shutting away the dusty room. I smiled at the families playing on the sand and walked towards the gentle blue sea.



The result of a writing exercise from a course I took recently – given the first sentence, extrapolate a page of fiction writing.


           He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, and looked at me vaguely. His large, dark, empty eyes reinforced the bovine similitude. He didn’t need to ask me for his next order. He’d been here every night this week and always stuck to the same routine. Now that the beer glass was empty, I reached for the whisky tumbler and served him a double, neat. I put the lowball in front of him and he nodded, raised the glass and slugged the golden liquid back.

               I’d only heard his voice when he ordered his drinks on the previous nights, before we’d established our non-verbal understanding. He spoke with a weary, tired drawl. I’d had time to speculate who he was and why he was hanging around a dive like this on weekday evenings. A worn down office worker looking for any excuse not to head home to a nagging wife. A cop beaten down by years of dealing with lowlifes. A rancher desolated by the modern world and the loss of his natural place within it. When you’re keeping bar in a dive like this weeknights you have time to speculate. In all probability he was just a guy like me with nothing better to do but hang around a joint like this and keep a low profile. The difference was I was getting paid a little to waste my life away here.

              Last orders came and went without anyone paying much attention to it. It was that sort of place. On the other evenings he had been in he had slowly slumped himself off the barstool at closing time and made his way to the door. This night he just sat there. Cas waved as she headed out to start her night’s work, Sly was out the back taking stock for the next day. It was just him and me in the bar. His large eyes suddenly came into focus on me, he opened his mouth and said…


           Eight in the morning and she was still the only one there. She wasn’t surprised. It had been three weeks now. Still Evie felt she had to come. She hunched down against the concrete pillar, protecting her from the unceasing wind. At least it wasn’t raining today. The surface of the river was choppy as the water passed beneath the bridge. The flowers tied and taped to the railings fluttered and flapped. Dead leaves and petals blew off and landed in the river, floating away on the current. A rain-smudged poster clung on to the lamppost, refusing to give up hope even though the body had been found. Commuters bustled passed on their way to work. At the start they had paused and looked. They had read the dedications that accompanied the flowers. They had given a respectful moment, a nod, a look of sympathy, and then moved on. Now they hurried passed. There was no malice in this. They had their own lives to get on with. Continue reading “THE LAST FLOWERS”


     Running. Hard. Breathing heavy. Feet pounding. Sweat dripping. Muscles straining. The hard surface jarring his joints as he hurtles onwards. Round another corner. No time to look back. Need to stop. Hide. Somewhere.

     Blood. Blood on the streets. Blood on his clothes. Death. He survives. He runs. Escape. In the future he will have to live with this. Not now. Now is enduring.

      How many of them were there? No idea. Flashing images. Bodies lying. Screams. Pain. A face exploding in front of him. Blood. Matter. Bone. Showering him. Run. Maggie? Separated. Should he go back to look for her?

     Quieter. Distant sirens. Whimpering. Screaming. Slow. Adrenaline slows, body aches. Now stop. Peer around this corner. Masked man. Armed. Hide. Deep, slow breaths. Quiet. Footsteps approach. Press against the cold wall. Please God. There is no God. Please God. Footsteps retreat. There is no God. Thank you God. Continue reading “THERE WILL BE HOPE”


I edited these selection of short comedy sketches for the BBC Fast and Funny initiative recently. Some of Scotland’s up and coming comedy talent got the chance to write a sketch and see it filmed and edited. Do have a look and a chuckle:

BBC Writersroom – Fast and Funny