The Write Gruff

Another month, another entry into the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words Competition. I think this one is sound, though having already submitted it I do wish I’d thought to do the second version below.


“Fine,” said the greedy troll. “I’ll wait for your brother, who you say will be tastier.”

The little goat smiled with relief and scampered along the bridge.

“However,” said the troll, snatching the goat and hoisting him over its mouth, “I’m (apparently) greedy and could use an hors d’oeuvre.”


The troll leaned back against the bridge’s railing and picked at his teeth with a tiny goat rib. A satisfied burp escaped from his mouth and wafted away.

The trouble with goats, he thought, is that you always want a bit more when you’re done.

Obligingly he heard the clicking of hooves on his bridge…


It’s supposed to be lucky

I have to say: I really struggled with the August prompt for the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words contest. I wanted to play with the idea of fairies and an iron horseshoe being a barrier to them, perhaps linked to unrequited love. In the end, I erred on the side of horseshoes being symbolic of luck, but the consensus being out on whether it is an upright or inverted horseshoe that is lucky or unlucky.

Your mileage will vary.


The house ablaze, the alarm woke him in the lounge. He felt lucky until he found the horseshoe over the door inverted, heels holding the door in place. He frantically jolted the handle until, at last, with a ringing clang, the horseshoe fell to the floor. As did the handle.

The word you’re looking for is ‘bracing’

I was really proud of my entry in June’s Scottish Book Trust – 50 Words contest. I even thought it was better than the story chosen as the winner. I suppose that’s fair; we’re entitled to disagree on such things.

I’m less confident on this entry — it’s supposed to be inspired by a trip to the seafront. I was captivated by the idea of a beach scene turned sinister by a viking raid. I’ve not done the best job of conveying that here, but they’re not all going to work. I suppose.


The breeze builds, spinning a parasol planted in the sand, a defiant banner in a war against the North Sea, so that it falls. A beachball is dislodged, severed, to roll free and bob on water turned to blood in the sunset. A longboat drifts away, its raiders victorious.

Make Like a Tree

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I’ve managed to (yet again!) enter the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words competition. It’s been a nice series of exercises and I feel like it’s spurred me to write more elsewhere.

The prompt for this one was to write a story that takes place in an enchanted forest.


One morning we noticed that the trees had all gone, pulled up their roots and creaked away in the night.

Why did they leave? There was an explanation etched by a branch in the turf.

Not that any of us could read Treelish.

You Must Give Me the Recipe

For the fifth month, albeit only just under the wire, I’ve entered the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words competition. There were a great many variations of this over the past few weeks, but I hit upon a… formula that I enjoyed. Sadie also seemed to enjoy it.


You Must Give Me the Recipe

Saute steaks in butter.

More butter.
Sweat shallots.
Add mushrooms, more butter, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard. Brandy. Ignite!
Add cream.

Season to taste.

Pour sauce over steak, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

If not the cyanide in the salt-shaker, perhaps heart disease.
She was nothing if not patient.

Switching Tracks

Yet again I entered the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words competition. April’s prompt was to write a story set in a train station. I found this to be more challenging than previous prompts; Sadie really seemed to enjoy it.

If nothing else, I am enjoying the participation in these contests as a starting point for creativity.


Travellers, clustered like meerkats, peering at the departure board. Amongst them, one couple. Two lives. Two suitcases.

Incredible, how much of one life fits into a suitcase.

He goes to the ticket counter, returns to her side.

Two lives. Two suitcases. Two tickets: one single, one return.

Campfire Stories

I have succeeded at entering every Scottish Book Trust’s 50 words competition of 2017. March’s contest featured a prompt that required a campfire to be in the story. Sadie told me this was her favourite so far. I expect the next one (April’s) will be less speculative fiction-y.


The survey craft streaked across the sky like a comet before touching down. As it cooled, hisses and pings filled the deserted clearing.

“Imagine,” she announced. “The first humans on Earth since the Diaspora!”

They spread out, scanning.

“Uh… Ma’am?”


He pointed.

The last embers of a campfire smouldered.