And remember the rope!

The next topic for our writing group is ‘rope’ and the challenge is to write in a genre which is different from usual. I had a couple of ideas for a rope-y story, I have had a thought of writing about oakum and junk pickers for quite a while and this would fit perfectly. Picking oakum was a terrible task – it was a way of recycling old rope (of which there was much in the so-called ‘olden days’) by manually unpicking it for it to be used again to make new rope. The poor souls who did it, with their bare hands, were usually either prisoners or in the workhouse; junk was the lengths of old rope, often stiff with tar and other muck, oakum was the unpicked strands from it which was then recycled into new rope. This offered all sorts of ideas fora story, or an article, and thoughts were swirling.

I then remembered that a secondary idea was to write something in a different genre from usual, and that was where my ideas foundered. I write in so many different genres, mostly all-purpose fiction, but I’ve written historical stories – mostly imagining incidents from my ancestors’ lives,  and biographical, I’ve written crime, teenage, children’s, romantic, adventure, spooky, mystery – and for different audiences, in fact thinking back I can only think of sci-fi/futuristic and horror which I’ve not dabbled with. I’ve written some humorous stories, some reflective pieces, non-fiction, discussion…

I am stumped. Horror? I just don’t think I could, and I don’t want to. So sci-fi? I have written a couple of futuristic stories, but not what you might call science fiction, so this, I think will have to be the genre… but plot? And plot involving rope? I’ve been pondering on this because it is going to be a real challenge for me – even while I was away staying with friends it was at the back of my mind. They live on a remote farm in a very flat, open area of agricultural countryside, with long straight roads, long straight dykes and ditches, long straight rows of trees disappearing into the distance to meet other rows of dykes, ditches, roads and trees. Because neighbours are far away there are long periods of time when nothing much happens, and I had the idea of some sort of military take over/alien invasion/distant disaster story. Supposing the main characters went to stay on a farm like this and their friends or hosts went to the nearest town for shopping and didn’t return. Supposing the electricity stopped, their phones didn’t work, batteries didn’t work, they were there alone.

I have a scenario, but no plot, and a couple of characters with no personalities and no names. I even wrote an introductory paragraph, but then ground to a stop. Usually I write a few lines about almost anything and the ideas come flooding. In this case, my poor nameless protagonists are stuck on a remote farm, just waiting. In desperation, I looked up genres in fiction, and as you might expect there was a mighty list, with sub-lists and sub-sub-lists, and then I came across something I’d not consciously heard of before:

Speculative fiction is a term that has been used with a variety of meanings for works of Literary fiction. The broadest interpretation is as a category of fiction encompassing genres with elements that do not exist in reality, recorded history, nature, or the present universe. Such fiction covers various themes in the context of supernatural, futuristic, and other imaginative realms. The genres under this umbrella category include, but are not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, horror, superhero fiction, alternate history, Utopian and dystopian fiction, and supernatural fiction, as well as combinations thereof (for example, science fantasy).

This has captured my imagination; maybe I will abandon my poor characters on the isolated farm and think about speculative fiction instead.  Yes, that’s an idea! I will keep you updated! And remember the rope!


  1. andrewbeechroad

    “Rope” she said “rope will be perfect for the job”.
    And with that bold decision Susan began to construct a matrix which from the air she knew would baffle the casual onlooker and more to the point might just get the interest of Eric the neighbourhood nosey parker who in turn was bound to get in touch with the West Somerset Archaeological Group and just maybe the local branch of the Mystic and Paranormal Society who had their headquarters at Sea View Terrace, Weston Super Mare.
    This she knew was a cunning and promising plan to captivate residents and intime the entire world and would fulfil her long dreamed of quest to be at the centre of a series of tales written by that talented writing group who had already won the Waterhead and Oldham Literary Prize awarded each year at the Diggle, Delph and Saddleworth Country Fare.
    But she had not bargained for the machinations of her arch rival Lavinia ……..


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