Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Siren Song of an Idea

INT. Late afternoon. The WRITER is sitting at her desk, typing on a laptop. The typing is slow but steady.

SMALL VOICE:  (in a sing-song manner) HelllOOOOoo.


SMALL VOICE: Look at me. I’m shiny.

The WRITER continues to type, now bending over the keyboard and typing with, perhaps, a touch more force than necessary.

SMALL VOICE: Hey. Pay attention to me. I’m so shiny.

WRITER: Go away.

SMALL VOICE: And glittery. Look at me, I can spit sparkles. I’m a living firework display over here.

WRITER: Go away.

SMALL VOICE: Are you sure?


SMALL: But I’m soooooo shiny.

The WRITER stops typing.

WRITER: Okay. You win. What are you?



SMALL VOICE: A new idea. An idea for a plot far, far better than that tired old thing you’re working on. This idea is fresh. It’s bold. It’ll set the world on fire.

WRITER: I can’t think about you right now.

SMALL VOICE: Yes, you can. C’mon. Think about me. You’re not finished. You’re nowhere near finished. Why not put that old thing in a drawer where it belongs? You know it’s not that good. You’re sick of it. Close the file. Shut the door. Move on.

WRITER: Why does this always happen? I need to finish one project before I start another - otherwise nothing gets finished. I know this. I’ve learned.

SMALL VOICE: Soooo shiny. Right here. Right now. Write me. You won’t be sorry.

WRITER: Maybe not, but give it a month or two and do you know what’ll happen?


WRITER: It’ll be late afternoon. I’ll be typing. And then, out of nowhere will come a small voice saying in a sing-song manner “HelllOOOooo.”

SMALL VOICE: But...I’m shiny.

WRITER: I don’t doubt that you are. Tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to open a new file and write down your basic premise.

SMALL VOICE: You won’t regret it.

WRITER: I might. I might not. But I know the only way to make you shut up is to write you down.

SMALL VOICE: But….I can spit sparkles.

WRITER: Honey, so can I.

Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her murder mystery games A Fatal Fairy Tale, Deadly Ever After and Curiouser and Curiouser are among the top-selling mystery games on the internet. All thirteen of her murder mystery games and two audience-interactive plays are published by Her newest games, Humpty was Pushed, and What the Dickens? will be published soon by Red Herring Games. Her 'writing sheep' are being featured this year in a series of columns in the European writers' magazine Elias. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Antonelli, Author.


  1. Ha ha! I'm getting to know that little elf very well except mine usually whispers to me in the middle of the night!

    1. I've had characters wake me up. I have paper and pen in my nightstand.

  2. Ah, distractions…how they love to taunt us—especially those wonderful but unrelated-to-our-current-project ideas that demand to be heard. I chuckled through this whole article, Elspeth, not so much because it's funny (which it is), but because it's so-o-o-o-o-o true. :-)

  3. There probably isn't a writer alive who can't relate to this. Thanks for the chuckle, Elspeth. You nailed that pesky little voice so well.

  4. I'm getting a little worried about the folks at BRP ... seem to be hearing 'voices' quite often lately ... maybe cabin fever?

  5. Hearing voices is normal for writers...isn't it?

  6. Lovely piece, Elspeth. I always do this. In fact, I have a file on iMac, 'Ideas', that's bursting with ideas I want to develop. But I never allow the new ones to stop work on what I'm doing at that moment. I also have notebooks scattered throughout the house, with dedicated pens, so I can scribble down ideas that catch me away from the desk. And, for when I'm out of the house, I use a voice recorder. Those small voices won't catch me out!
    On the odd occasions I've fooled myself that I'll remember and write down the idea later, invariably those ideas have vanished into the ether by the time I get round to it.

    1. Thanks, Stuart, for your kind words. I've learned to always be prepared too!

  7. Ha! So right, Elspeth. I can relate too much.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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