Tall And True Short Reads

Once Upon A Time

Episode 59 (16 September 2022)

This story begins at the end. But my time spent observing your planet has taught me humans like to process events and information in an orderly, if not entirely predictable, sequence. So forget the first sentence, and I’ll serve you a linear tale. Just don’t skip to the end and spoil it.


Once Upon A Time

Show Notes

Season Three: Episode 59 (16 September 2022)

Once Upon A Time is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read the story: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/once-upon-a-time

Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Story Insight

I wrote Once Upon A Time in June 2022 for the Australian Writer’s Centre’s quarterly writing competition, Furious Fiction. The brief for the 500-word short story was:

  • It had to begin with a sentence containing exactly SIX words.
  • Include something being served.
  • And use the words STAGE, WIRE and LOG. (Longer variations were acceptable as long as they retained the original spelling.)

Fittingly, the six-word sentence popped into my head first: This story begins at the end. And it also signposted the ending, so I knew my writing destination.

I wanted to play with form and point-of-view in the story, so I came up with the idea of an omniscient narrator, possibly other-worldly and not limited to “linear timelines”. However, our narrator has observed that “humans like to process events and information in an orderly sequence”. And so serves the reader a three-part “linear tale” of two scientists dedicated to saving the world from climate change.

We follow the scientists from their first meeting at an early UN Climate Change Conference in the 1990s to their collaboration-catch-up at a post-pandemic UN Conference in the 2020s and joint address on the sidelines of a UN Climate Adaptation Conference in the late-2050s.

In addition to form and point-of-view, I wanted to write a story on climate change. About how scientists have warned us of its existence for decades, while vested interests have denied it or urged us to adapt rather than take action to halt and reverse its effects.

I found places for the required words from the brief in the story, although I took advantage of being allowed to use longer variations for one of them — did you hear the words?

And for the first sentence callback at the end of the story, I used a classic beginning, “Once upon a time, a pair of dedicated young scientists tried to save the world from climate change.” But as our narrator-observer explains, how this story ends is up to the reader.

I hope you enjoyed my “linear tale” with a message. You can read Once Upon A Time and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections, including my latest collection, Twelve More Furious Months, from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores — links are available in the show notes.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from Seasons One, Two and Three.

And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite app — doing so helps me share my writing and memories with other listeners.

You can support this podcast financially by making a small one-off or regular donation via the Acast Supporter Page.

And finally, please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org:

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is produced using Audacity.

Podcast episodes are recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

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Support this show https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads.

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