Have you heard the one about the wig, the wart and screwdriver? – 2 March 2022

It was with great joy and excitement that Ayr Writers’ Club met in person for the first time in 2022, this week.

The Club Night was a chance to face some time-sensitive writing tasks – one collaborative and one individual – as well as getting to know other club members a little better.

Our first challenge was … to break into groups. Sounds simple but arithmetically challenged leadership tied everyone in knots! (And yes, I’m to blame, as presenter!)

Finally settled into groups, our first task was to use random items, provided by members, as the basis of a piece of collaborative writing in any genre. After twenty minutes discussion and writing, it was time to reveal the results of the groups’ labours.

The first group based their tale on a wig, a wart (or oak apple) and a screw driver. Wilhelmina, the Witch, is intent on saving a precious oak destined to be felled to make way for HS2, but would magic or a screw driver save the day in this spooky story?

Be Prepared” was the title of the next offering. A bunnet, a propelling pencil and a tin of shortbread were woven into the story of a father and son who, on a walk, come to the rescue of a lady choking. With the propelling pencil handily doubling as a tracheotomy device, a life is saved, with the shortbread used to ward off shock.

Perhaps in a first for AWC, next up was the story-boarding for a cartoon, inspired by a Mickey Mouse badge, along with a note book and a miniature, joiner’s rule. What an entertaining slap stick adventure ensued with Mickey and Goofy attempting teamwork in response to Minnie’s request for a new shelf. Much hilarity from the comic piece ensued. A contract with Disney may be signed any moment for “Getting it Straight”!

The final group presented a time travelling tale which hinged upon a bust of Shakespeare, a box with a ring, and a flask. A teenage girl happens upon the ring which she places on her finger, thus transporting her back to Shakespearian England. When the Bard himself tries to help her with an injury, the ring slips off, dispatching her back in time but minus her hoodie. Will this 21st century garment appear in one of Shakespeare’s 16th century plays?

General discussion which followed concluded that we benefitted from the sparking of ideas when working with others, and that a closer consideration of objects – and what might connect them – is well worth exploring in our writing.

Following refreshments and chat, it was time to hear of recent successes in drama, novel, and children’s story competitions, all suitably applauded.

And so, to our second challenge of the evening, an individual task which was all about “flippin’ it’.

Members were provided with a choice of flash fiction pieces to choose from (thanks to John and Nigel) each clearly POSITIVE or NEGATIVE, then it was flippin’ time, the chance to reverse, subvert or switch the piece in the opposite direction.

Members chose to flip pieces in dramatically different ways. In some cases, the same plot was regarded from a new angle; others chose to reverse emotions; one was simply edited to reveal an alternative ending, while two members chose to redefine characters’ personalities. It was fascinating to hear the range of outcomes.

Before we knew it, time had run out.

It was good to have got together in person once more.

Carolyn O’Hara

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