This is an unedited writing exercise….just something silly….a glimpse inside the deranged workings of #FP’s Clichéd Writer’s Group.
The meeting of the Clichéd Writer’s Group started late, as half the attendees were outside, furiously dragging on their cigarettes. Those who remained in the run-down church hall were evenly split between the drinkers of cheap, dissatisfying coffee, and those Tweeting or Blogging that things hadn’t started yet.
Tim, the de facto leader of the gang burst through the hall doors, trailing nicotined-up writers like anguished ducklings.
“People, people, let’s get this show on the road!” he shouted, clapping his hands together in the style of a maddened gym teacher. Bernadette muttered from the back that SOME people had, in fact, been ready for a good twenty minutes, and had been waiting for the slaves to the weed to sort themselves out. But as she’d been forced onto decaf by her doctor after trying to attack a trolley boy in Waitrose, nobody took her very seriously.
Tim waited until the rest of the group had settled, chattering like sleepy starlings, before raising his hands for attention.
“Now,” he boomed “I’m sure you’ll all be just thrilled to know that our subversive campaign on Twitter is bearing fruit already! It seems that people don’t want original or well-written fiction, they just want our cunningly recycled clichés! Yes, boys and girls, Trope Fiction is gonna make all of our names!!!”
Harry coughed. He was a dry, dusty man in his sixties who’d actually had a novel published in 1972; an improbable SF work featuring ‘roided up astronauts crashlanding on a planet solely populated by triple-breasted Amazonian aliens with a lax attitude towards clothing and personal space. It was made into a B-movie which still had a small cult following, meaning Harry got to go to conventions WHERE PEOPLE KNEW HIM, and, as such, the rest of the CWG treated him with extreme reverence.
Following Harry’s cough, an expectant air fell over the group as they collectively held their breath and waited for his wit or wisdom.
“Were there any rich tea biscuits out this week?” he asked. “I can only have them here, Susan’s decided we need to detox, and biscuits are banned at home now…” his voice tailed off plaintively. With a faintly disappointed air, Melanie went and rustled in the communal biscuit tin (10p non-voluntary contribution per week) and emerged with a crumpled pack of the aforementioned treat. Harry took them with murmured thanks and set to munching happily.
Tim glared at Harry, then refocused on the group. Between them, they had the largest collection of unfinished or unsubmitted manuscripts in the Western Hemisphere. A chance conversation with Steve, the CWG’s Secretary and other founder, had led to the creation and collection of this group of dissatisfied and disillusioned Artistes (capital ‘a’, French pronunciation, if you please). They met every Saturday to plot, commiserate, and occasionally celebrate. Tim stroked the butter-soft corduroy of his trousers before speaking.
“Due to the modest success of our Twitter campaign via the Hashtag-Friday-phrases, we can clearly see that readers are ready for our unique brand of writing! It’s time to gather momentum, get our heads in the game, and take the literary world BY STORM!!!” Tim’s tendency to talk in highly punctuated capitals was a strange quirk, but one which made him truly fabulous at clichéd writing.
Clare made a funny little humming noise and tapped her french manicured nails on her ever-present notepad. “With all due respect, Tim, don’t you feel that sometimes we’re almost too derivative? Wouldn’t it better behoove writers with our combined experience and skill to perhaps collaborate on something…new?” She lowered her eyes to the floor, flushing as she spoke.
There was an indrawn breath from Tim, who proceeded to turn an alarming shade of purple. He gasped a couple of times, for once rendered silent. Margaret leaned over and patted his hand. Nobody knew why Margaret was part of the CWG; she wrote a very well-read cooking blog and had a recipe rescue column in two local papers. A motherly lady in her fifties, she hated discord and often mediated in the spats which inevitably ensued in a group full of highly strung creatives. “Clare, love,” she said “don’t you think it would be a bit daft to suddenly change tack after all this time? People are finally noticing us, this could be our way into the big time.”
“Added to which,” Steve butted in, “We’ve had more recognition for this than we’ve had between us for any of our other works, Harry and Margaret excepted. Do you not see? This is almost like a real, honest-to-God focus group, and the results are overwhelmingly in favour of derivative pap, Clare. Face facts!”
Clare reddened, and apologised in a small voice. Steve looked like all of the chisel-jawed, tousle-quiffed, tall-tan-and-buffed heroes of the Billionaire Erotica she devoured like Maltesers every night. Being spoken to by him directly caused flurries of mingled desire and dejection to whirl within her, as she was forced to realise that a) he wasn’t going to ask to impregnate her, b) he wasn’t a billionaire with a sex dungeon, and c) he was actually a bully, only not in a Miss-Jones-six-of-the-best way.
The final member of the group spoke up.
“I don’t see why we have to go big. Why not keep on doing what we’re doing? People do seem to enjoy it, and we’re making them smile, I think. Can’t we just carry on as we are for a bit?”
Tim struck her with such a look of venomous disbelief that she shrunk back in her seat. “Well,” he sneered, “that’s just the attitude I’d expect from the kind of woman who tried writing paranormal romance about,” he contoured his face into a nauseous parody of sweetness, “WERE GOLDFISH!”
Kiera wasn’t going to be cowed by a yuppie in corduroy and loafers; she took more attitude from her kids and emerged victorious. Well, sometimes. Glaring over the top of her wannabe-hipster glasses, and looking scarily reminiscent of her mother thirty years before, she closed the argument and the meeting by quoting Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show:
“I made you, and I can break you just as easily!”