Possible Side Effects
Possible Side Effects was originally written for Task Eight of the 2007-8 SlingInk Eurofiction Competition. The prompt used was a picture of pills spilling out of a bottle. Under its original title of The Great Gandolfini and His Wife, it was placed 4th equal out of a total field of 57. The (unnamed) judge commented that it was "yery cleverly written. Compelling story. Superb! Be careful if it's the name of a real drug though, cos they'll have you!" (It's OK, I made Gramapraxyl up. Although I'm kind of tempted to trademark it. I think it sounds quite cool.)
Possible Side Effects won third prize in the 2009 Calderdale Short Story Competition out of 430 entries. The competition was judged by Jane Rogers and Ra Page. Apparently, my story was the only one that was shortlisted by both judges.
When I saw the prompt, my immediate thought was that there was only one way the story could end. So that's where I started it. For the actual writing process, however, I wrote it in chronological order - getting more and more deranged as I did so - and then reversed it. The tricky bit was finding a way to end the final (i.e. first) section in such a way as to bring it to a tidy conclusion. And then it became clear that all I had to do was have the protagonist in such pain that all he wanted to do was die, and that linked it right back to the beginning (i.e. the end).