Sunday, 29 August 2010


I once set myself the task of writing one story in each of as many different genres as I could think of.  I tried a ghost story, a love story, a cowboy story and so on, but after a while I realised, no matter what I set out to write, they almost all came out with a slight supernatural edge to them; the sort of thing you could read either way.  Was it a ghost, or had the sister not really died in the first place?  Was he really a gorilla, or did he just think he was.  Was he really a reincarnated sea captain or was it just the old fashioned way he spoke?  And so on.  Any normal reader would immediately see the supernatural reference, but it was quite possible to miss it and read them as normal stories.

I remember the joke that got Max Miller banned from the BBC.  He always told jokes that he said were just normal anecdotes and it was the dirty minded people in the audience who saw them the other way.  Nonsense of course, but that was his trade mark.  The joke I remember was this .....

"The other day I was walking across a long and very narrow footbridge when I met a young lady coming the other way.  I didn't know whether to toss myself off or block her passage."

Cringe making of course, but if you told that to a six or seven year old they would innocently ask what happened.  Did she turn round and go back, or did he?  Did they squeeze past each other?  Did he really throw himself off then?  It's only us dirty minded adults who see it the other way.

That set me thinking about the more difficult type of story where the writer's intention is harder to fathom.  How many readers would miss the point?  Or are they right and that wasn't the writer's intention at all?  It makes you realise how careful you have to be.  My stories are simple, open tales where my intention is clear and obvious.

At least I think they are.

Oh oh!


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