Inspiration, maybe – Volume 1

50 photographs, 50 stories, of which there is one of the 50 below.

They all start with –

A picture paints … well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And the story:

It was once said that a desperate man has everything to lose.

The man I was chasing was desperate, but I, on the other hand, was more desperate to catch him.

He’d left a trail of dead people from one end of the island to the other.

The team had put in a lot of effort to locate him, and now his capture was imminent.  We were following the car he was in, from a discrete distance, and, at the appropriate time, we would catch up, pull him over, and make the arrest.

There was nowhere for him to go.

The road led to a dead-end, and the only way off the mountain was back down the road were now on.  Which was why I was somewhat surprised when we discovered where he was.

Where was he going?

“Damn,” I heard Alan mutter.  He was driving, being careful not to get too close, but not far enough away to lose sight of him.


“I think he’s made us.”


“Dumb bad luck, I’m guessing.  Or he expected we’d follow him up the mountain.  He’s just sped up.”

“How far away?”

“A half-mile.  We should see him higher up when we turn the next corner.”

It took an eternity to get there, and when we did, Alan was right, only he was further on than we thought.”

“Step on it.  Let’s catch him up before he gets to the top.”

Easy to say, not so easy to do.  The road was treacherous, and in places just gravel, and there were no guard rails to stop a three thousand footfall down the mountainside.

Good thing then I had the foresight to have three agents on the hill for just such a scenario.

Ten minutes later, we were in sight of the car, still moving quickly, but we were going slightly faster.  We’d catch up just short of the summit car park.

Or so we thought.

Coming quickly around another corner we almost slammed into the car we’d been chasing.

“What the hell…” Aland muttered.

I was out of the car, and over to see if he was in it, but I knew that it was only a slender possibility.  The car was empty, and no indication where he went.

Certainly not up the road.  It was relatively straightforward for the next mile, at which we would have reached the summit.  Up the mountainside from here, or down.

I looked up.  Nothing.

Alan yelled out, “He’s not going down, not that I can see, but if he did, there’s hardly a foothold and that’s a long fall.”

Then where did he go?

Then a man looking very much like our quarry came out from behind a rock embedded just a short distance up the hill.

“Sorry,” he said quite calmly.  “Had to go if you know what I mean.”

I’d lost him.

It was as simple as that.

I had been led a merry chase up the hill, and all the time he was getting away in a different direction.

I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book, letting my desperation blind me to the disguise that anyone else would see through in an instant.

It was a lonely sight, looking down that road, knowing that I had to go all that way down again, only this time, without having to throw caution to the wind.

“Maybe next time,” Alan said.

“We’ll get him.  It’s just a matter of time.”

© Charles Heath 2019-2021

Find this and other stories in “Inspiration, maybe”  available soon.


Short Story Writing – Don’t try this at home! – Part 4

This is not a treatise, but a tongue in cheek, discussion on how to write short stories.   Suffice to say this is not the definitive way of doing it, just mine.  It works for me – it might not work for you.

You’ve got the place, now you want the who.

My main characters are quite often me.

Not the real me, because I’m boring.  No, those characters are what I would like to be, that imaginary superhuman that can do everything.

Until, of course, reality sets in, and the bullets start flying.  When that happens, we should be looking to run or at the very least get under cover, not walk into a hail of bullets, with a huge grin, staring down the enemy.

Hang on, that never happens except in superman comics.

What’s really needed here is a little vulnerability, a little humility and a lot of understanding, qualities at times I don’t have.

So, in order to create a more believable character, I start dragging traits from others I’ve met, or know, or really don’t want to know.  

In a writer’s environment, there are a plethora of people out there that you can draw on for inspiration.  I once spent and afternoon at a railway station just observing people.  Even now, I make observations, some of which are true, and others, wildly off course. 

I once tried to convince my other half that I could pick people’s traits, and we sat at a café outside a church in Venice.  I was lucky, I got more than 75% correct.

Other characters in my stories I have met along the way.

Like a piano player in a restaurant.  It was not so much the playing was bad, it was the way he managed to draw people into his orbit and keep them there.  The man has charisma, but sadly no talent for the instrument.

Like an aunt I met only twice in a lifetime, and who left a lasting impression.  Severe, angry looking, speaking a language I didn’t understand, even though it was English.  It was where I learned we came from England, and she was the closest thing I came to as an example of nineteenth-century prim and proper.  And, no, she didn’t have a sense of humour or time for silly little boys.

Like one of my bosses, a man of indeterminate age, but it had to be over 100, or so it seemed to my sixteen-year-old brain, who spoke and dressed impeccably, and yes, he did once say that I would be the death of him.

I can only hope I wasn’t.

Like a Captain of a ship I once met, a man who didn’t seem to have time for the minions, and a man who reeked authority and respect.  I’ve always wanted to be like him, but unfortunately, it was not in the genes.

Those are only a few, there are thousands of others over the years, a built-in library, if you will, of characters waiting to be taken off the shelf and used where necessary or appropriate.  We all have one of these banks.

You just have to know when to use them.

NaNoWriMo – April 2022 – Day 26

First Dig Two Graves, the second Zoe thriller.

I’m going over the conversation Olga is having with John now that he is her prisoner.

On the first run through it seemed to make sense, but as we all know, when you read the conversation out loud, often it sounds terrible.

A question of, “Would I say that?”

Whilst snatching John off the street was a rather simple task, made easier by the fact he was not expecting it, Olga is not sure whether it is a big act.

Working with Irina has made her wary of everyone and everything, even more so since Irina had left her charge, but she knows just how much Irina evolved into the Zoe her son tried to keep on a leash, with spectacularly awful results.

Had she been training John to be like her?

Has Sebastian been training John to become a spy, or was he one already?  After all, why is someone like John, if he is that reputed computer nerd type, doing with a girl like Irina.

Her preference would have to be someone strong, authoritative, masculine, like Alistair.  The problem was she hadn’t driven out all of the emotions  in the time she spent with her.

So, sitting opposite each other, John and Olga try to do their individual assessments.

She finally admits that she doesn’t want to kill Irina, just rehabilitate her.

John, of course, is horrified at the thought of them brainwashing her, especially if they send her after him again.

It comes down to a single point.  Will he do as she asks, and invite her to come and get him?

What neither of them realizes Irina already knows where they are, and any plans Olga might have will be useless.

Today’s writing, with Irina, otherwise know as Zoe, on the way, 1,232 words, for a total of 63,154.

NaNoWriMo (April) – Day 6

It’s round about now, coming to the end of the first week when the well runs dry.

It’s an interesting analogy. For the pantsers, the ideas run really well, and then the magnitude of the job kicks in, and the words dry up, and that terrible piece of paper staring at you, begging to be written on, becomes a nemesis.

Yes, I’ve been there.


I’ve learned over the years that writing a 50,000 word novel needs a degree of planning, and once the day’s allocation has been written, get some ideas down for the next, or for the next few.

Any ideas, whether they fit or not, that flesh out the story in outline form. I do this at the end of the writing session most times, but, sometimes when I’m in the middle of a piece, an idea will pop into my head.

It’s a good distraction.

Unless, like me, you suddenly find yourself writing that piece because the story is pouring out like water from a tap.

Today is another good day, and I’m lost in the relationship between two of our characters, and they are sparring. He suspects she is not what she seems, and she is trying to allay his fears, each trying not to be too conspicuous about it.

I’m also getting to travel myself, even if it is in an armchair, and it’s great that I can go almost anywhere in the world, but I’m settling for some islands off Italy. One day I might actually be able to visit them in person.

Today’s effort amounts to 1,411 words, for a total, so far, of 15,027.

More tomorrow.