Read, Write, Pass


During the MA Professional Writing ‘Novel’ module, we created a selection of collaborative stories. We started, as you’d expect, with a beginning, then a middle, followed by an end (not forgetting the inciting incident, of course); we threw in a timer for some added pressure and learned what happened when seven writers try to write one story. Genius or nonsense? You decide. We certainly had fun and managed to write seven stories in just under an hour.  Here is the first one.


Part one: James William Cole


Timmy Rob Lloyd drank deeply from a sweating can of PBR.  He peered over the rim at his new friend and noted the extraordinary delicacy and craftsmanship of the surgeon’s work. It was as if the ambassador still had the eyes he was born with. 

            ‘You know,’ said the ambassador, tapping his can. ‘This old brew isn’t nearly as bad I have been led to believe.’

            Timmy Rob Lloyd shrugged and drank again. 

            ‘I really cannot thank you enough for paying for my surgery,’ the ambassador continued. 

            As they smiled at each other and rolled the ends of their moustaches, between thumbs and forefingers, the ambassador turned forty-five degrees, lifted a revolver from the inside pocket of his jacket that hung, forlorn, over a gnarled old chair, and shot Timmy Rob Lloyd in the chest.

            It was a sad moment for Timmy. The betrayal stung like a bee that wouldn’t die, but would just keep on stinging forever. Crumpling to the floor, Timmy Rob Lloyd wheezed one word: ‘Why?’

            Standing, lifting his jacket and tucking his revolver back into the pocket, the ambassador rolled the ends of his moustache again. The stars on his boots clinked as be stepped right over Timmy’s body, its heat slowly leaking into the room. As the ambassador turned and held the bronze door handle, a darkened figure at the window stubbed out a cigarette and turned their hat down against the wind. 

            The ambassador, glimpsing a change in shine on the door handle, felt down into his breast pocket again, whipped round to face the window and shattered the glass in one, metallic splat. But the figure had disappeared, its form fragmented by the cracks. 

The ambassador ran to the window and gazed out into the night, listening after the running footsteps.  He went back to the door and stepped out, sniffing the air. Dry. Like there hadn’t been rain for months though he knew this wasn’t true. He straightened his shirt and walked in the direction of the figure.  Soon, he noticed an echo. He stopped and sniffed the air. Snake. He knew the stench of snake better than any other. Before he had a chance to turn, a bullet broke through his belly. He sank to the ground, clutching the buttons of his suit jacket. His attacker loomed over him in a suite much like his own, hair parted and gleaming. But the eyes, the ambassador squinted, they were the same pair of eyes he’d sewn into Timmy Rob Lloyd’s head two weeks before his own eye surgery.

With his last breaths, the ambassador asked, ‘What’s your name?’

‘My name,’ replied the suited man, ‘is James William Cole. And I’m the ambassador.’

by Alison Frater, Yage Nieuwmeijer, Harry Webster, Alex Mawson-Harris, Evelyn Gascoyne, Nicki Wheeler and Amy Lilwall