Tobias: Welcome fellow editors to the Literally Stories Autumn summit.
Diane: Where is my drink?
Tobias: Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t bring any alcohol.
Diane: Oh deary… I thought for sure there would be a few bottles of wine. And some for you guys as well.
Nik: This might be a good time for me to bring out my eleven cases of home-brewed beer.
Adam: Good lad.
Nik: In these cases, when my throat dries up I find that it’s always good to bring a sensible load.
Hugh: Sensible load? Never mind. I’m sorry, I have a dirty mind.
Adam: Give it here. The Blades are up 2-1 and we have a dangerous corner at home.
Tobias: Oh, Is Sheffield United dangerous on set pieces?
Adam: No I mean the road turns sharply outside my house. It is a dangerous corner indeed. But let’s get some order here. Let’s discuss writing. Hugh, what would you say qualifies as a good story?
Hugh: A wee bit of darkness with a wee bit of truth.
Tobias: I think I’ve gotten more out of—
Adam, Hugh, Nik and especially Diane clinched up like the Tobias shrieked the shrillest note he could.
Diane: He said it.
Hugh: Oh no…
Diane: He really did say it.
Hugh: The wee bloke did it.
Tobias: What did I say?
Diane: The G-word.
Nik: Give me your bottle, you Swede. Remove your lips from that. No sensible load for your dry throat!
Hugh: … I have a dirty mind.
Adam: You see. Gotten is American and we are all British. If I can give you a recommendation, or to summarise… I would say; try to live by the motto When in Rome…
Tobias: But I’ve never been to Rome. I’ve never even left my apartment.
Nik: That is a lie! You are a liar. I know it. We all know it.
Tobias: But if you all know it then it’s not lying, it’s fiction. Hence, fiction is not lying.
Adam: Now we’re getting somewhere.
Diane: Is there no wine? No wine at all.
Nik: Maybe I can run somewhere and fix it.
Tobias: Ah nice way to bring up the running. Like being fully clothed for a marathon wasn’t a dead giveaway.
Nik: I’m always dressed like this. Which kind of wine would you like, lady Di?
Diane: The wet kind. I’ll swallow that with passion.
Nik: Okay. I’ll be back in a sec. I just have to start this app and… maybe I’ll aim for 5 km per min. Yes, that will be a good stride.
Tobias: You know it’s just next door. You could run way faster than that.
Nik: I need to keep a steady pace in everything I do! I mustn’t sprint just because I can. I’ll run and get the wine and I’ll run there in my tempo!
Adam: Tempo and pace is a good topic of conversation. How can you play with tempo and pace?
Hugh: I’ll do you one better. An example. A fucking twat had a cracking idea—
Tobias: The F-word is okay?
Diane: Dear Tobias. Hugh is from Scotland. The F-word is encouraged.
Hugh: …Like I said the fucking twat was called Tobias. No offense Tobias. That was just his name. It has nothing to do with you. The bastard invented a way to rape girls without getting caught. He’d drug them making them go to sleep and then he’d rape them. When they woke up they had no memory. That was the cracking idea because the drug also made them forget what happened to them the past two days. Then I’d finish the story off with the fucking twat waking up and not remembering what happened the past two days. And he’d wake up in prison with his prison mate offering him a drink.
Adam: Uhm… That sounds dark, but what does it have to do with tempo and pace?
Tobias: And also what about DNA?
Hugh: I said the twat would go to prison!
Adam: And pace?
Hugh: Yes with pace! That was the point. The bastard got what he deserved. He’d be fucked eternally and internally – sorry couldn’t help myself – for trying to rape a girl. He wouldn’t succeed of course. He’d slip the drug in his own drink or something.
Nik: Did somebody say drink?
Diane: Oh good you’re back, and with wine. Brilliant.
Nik: Wait! First I have to wind down. A few laps around the buildings.
Tobias: After a 30-meter run?
Nik: It’s metre and yes. No run is unimportant. Think of it as democracy. Every run matters. I’ll be back in a second. Just a second.
Diane: But my wine!
Adam: If we can get back to discussing—
Nik: You can have a beer meanwhile to feed your hunger for liquid.
Hugh: That had to be intentional! No way are you normally talking like that.
Tobias: I’m sorry, Adam. We’re not making it easy for you. We should talk about writing.
Adam: No it’s not that. The Blades just conceded a goal on a corner!
Diane: This doesn’t taste like wine at all.
Tobias: You and your whine.
Diane: I just love a glass of wine when I sit down to discuss.
Tobias: I know you love… whine.
Adam: He’s saying that like he’s spelling wine differently than W-I-N-E. Be aware of his literal puns. They will cause us all much harm.
Nik: Back again.
Diane: Good. Give me the wine.
Nik: But Diane… that was just the first lap. I’ve got 72 laps left. I was born 73, so I’ll always do 73 laps as a wind down.
Tobias: That must be why few runners born 1901 win marathons.
Diane: Why do you need to bring the wine with you?
Nik: I’m adjusting to the weight. I’m running the marathon at a certain altitude where my body will feel heavier, and here in Stockholm well we’re almost at sea level.
Diane: Couldn’t you use something else?
Nik: I suppose. But I’ve already got used to the weight. I’m a very fast adjuster.
Diane: Then you’ll adjust to the new weight quickly enough.
Adam looked down on a piece of paper. He tried to have some order and therefore changed the subject.
Adam: I rarely write, but when I do I avoid using a point-of-view that addresses the reader. I think it breaks the spell. Your opinions? Discuss.
Adam: You don’t agree?
Hugh: I agree. I hadn’t said anything for a while and that is pish.
Diane: Well now. With a glass of wine I can fully focus. I think it’s okay to address the reader. I like the feeling of being told a story. It’s more personal. Now, you have to be careful not to make common mistakes now don’t you. It can’t be too much of ‘you have to listen to this’ or ‘you have to do that’. It must be balanced now doesn’t it.
The others looked at Tobias.
Tobias: Same reason Hugh had.
Diane: Now you would write in a second person POV, wouldn’t you, dear Swede?
Tobias: Tobias would write in whichever POV there is.
Nik: You’re speaking in third person now?
Tobias: He had said too much. They were on to him. Adam analysed Tobias’ movements. Diane squinted over a glass of whine. Nik was ready to go for a run and Hugh looked like he wanted to say pish. The time had come up. No longer could he keep the façade up. No more would he live in shadows. No, now was the time to tell them. That he was actually a Dane.
Adam: A Dane?
Hugh: That’s pish!
Tobias: I’m sorry. My third person narrator does a lot of mistakes. That should have been “a dame”. But also that is a mistake. I am in fact not a Dane. Nor am I a dame. Not even a Danish dame.
Adam: Well okay, I think we’ve covered a lot of ground here today. Pace and tempo. POV.
Nik: Don’t forget my 73 laps! That’s a lot of ground to cover. I’m posting it on Facebook now. Stockholm Running. Oh you shitty piece of equipment!
Diane: What happened?
Nik: It only gave me credits for 72 laps.
Diane: Just go out and run another lap then.
Nik: No because then it will come up as only one lap. I need to run 74 laps and hope the shitty program gives me credit for only 73 laps and not 74.
Diane: Now while you’re out there, could you get me another bottle of wine? Make it two bottles.
Tobias laughs to himself and says: Diane needs to whine. Bottles.
Header Photo by Hubbard, Tom, 1931-, Photographer (NARA record: 8464449) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons