Monday, November 20, 2017


Back more than a month ago when I was in England (was it more than a month ago? Geez), I ended up getting myself more work. Well, that happens a lot. I go on holiday and come back with jobs. Though this was a charity 'do headed up by Elton Townend-Jones, and something that sounded very exciting from the get-go.

The concept: a Doctor Who charity anthology in which each story from the series as a whole is condensed into a 200-word short fiction. The extra twist: each story is advised by an Oblique Strategies card.

If you feel out of your depth, no worries -- so was I. Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards originally created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Each has printed on it a vague sentence or suggestion: "Don't be afraid of cliches," "Discard an axiom," or "Disciplined self-indulgence," for example. The cards are meant as a creativity tool: when you're at an impasse, draw a card and see if it stirs something.

In the case of the book, the cards are our guideposts. Each of us got a Doctor Who story paired with an Oblique Strategies card, and a 200-word limit. (Well, more like we were given sets thereof: I had four, as I think most did.)

The results were pretty wild. In my case, character focus was all over the map. And I found myself focusing down on moments rather than plot points -- the Master musing on the Doctor's philosophy. The Doctor figuring out how to deal with someone knew. Peri regretting ever saying anything ever. I realized by my last one that, instead of creating a story about the episode, I'd ended up putting a lens over a split second of the story.

This is all a very pretentious way of saying I had a lot of fun playing around with it all.

I'm one of 70-odd authors included, and it's in aid of Children in Need. Which, of course... it's the time of year for that. And the charity and Doctor Who have had a long and pleasant association.

Interested? Whoblique Strategies goes on sale this Thursday, November 23. Check out the Chinbeard Books website to get yours when orders open -- and, of course, I'll be sure to post reminders on my social media.


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