Earlier this month, I set myself a challenge: to write a 2,000 word sci-fi short story over the course of 48 hours. Well, strictly speaking, the Sci-Fi London Film Festival set the challenge for me:

On Saturday 8 April 2017 at 11am, we task you to write some original science fiction using elements we give you.   Your story should not exceed 2000 words and you only have 48 hours: the best story we receive will be published on New Scientist’s website and the author will receive £500 and a VIP pass to this year’s festival which runs in London from 27 April to 6 May 2017.

Two things appealed to me about this challenge.

First, the deadline. The more I write, the more I’ve found that a firm deadline helps me to focus on what I need to achieve. I’m planning on doing another ‘Agile Novel Development‘ post about this in the near future, talking about my experience with the concept of writing sprints and how writing in short, fixed bursts can be a great way to develop a consistent writing habit.

Second, the constraints – specifically the length of the story and the mandatory prompts. Every entrant received two mandatory and one optional prompt, all of them – seemingly – randomly mixed together. I’ve often found writing prompts a little too woolly to work with and appreciated that, in this case, I would have more than one connected prompt to work with.

When the morning of the challenge arrived, these were the prompts I was assigned:

Title: THE WORLD IN A TEACUP

Dialogue: “Have a look online, see if we can hire one.”

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