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Week 03 Episode 01: Exercises

Table of contents

  1. Listen
  2. Transcript
  3. Exercises
  4. Further Reading
  5. Subscribe



Hi and welcome to Parallel Worlds.

This week we’re building on the ideas of deception as discussed in the last LONG episode. I’ll talk about this later, but first, let’s start with the same exercise we always do. Five minutes of freedom to write or record your reflections on life right now. What’s going on? What’s changed? What’s the same? How are you feeling?

You have five minutes, starting NOW.

5 minutes

Hi again, welcome back. Phew! How was that? Where did you get to? What did you focus on? I am curious to hear what life is like for you right now – if there’s anything you’d like to share with the listeners here, as usual, please do drop me a voice message via the link in the podcast description.

Now, let’s talk about lies.

This week I discussed psychological operations. The art of deceiving people into believing things that aren’t necessarily true. So we’re going to start the week with lies. I’m going to give you five minutes to come up with a list of lies you could tell small children.

Being a grown-up is great. You get to do all the things you wanted to do when you were a kid. If you want to eat ice-cream in the shower, who’s stopping you? Want to walk backwards around your kitchen all day? Go for it. You’ve got the freedom to do whatever is in your power.

But, as we all know, with power comes responsibility. We’re the people who take care of the next generation, help them grow, find their way in the world. Children have sweet little curious minds, and learn all sorts of things day to day. Of course, if I were in any way responsible, I would say something like ‘and it’s our job to help them learn the reality of the world.’ But I’m not. Today, I would like you to think about lying to gullible, innocent, sweet, children.

I have siblings who are much younger than me. I remember telling my little brother never to leave toys outside in the garden, because pesky cats would come and steal them. I remember telling him that if he was ever lonely he could just talk to the moon. Who knows if he tried it, or if the moon called him back. I remember telling him that he could show me things down the phone, back in the days before phones had any sort of camera.

So today, I want you to become the irresponsible older sibling who should know better, and write a list of lies. You have five minutes to think of irrational, silly, stupid, outlandish, absurd, impossible lies. Perhaps a compass points north because polar bears are highly magnetised. Perhaps planes are really lifted into the air by a network of sky-hooks. Perhaps if you close your eyes and count to five hundred, your feet turn to marmalade. I don’t know – it’s up to you. List the most lies that you can, in five minutes, starting … now!

5 minutes

Whoa there! How many did you get down? Good job. Any surprises? Anything leap out as the best lie? Anything you were told when you were a child?

Your next task is to choose one of those lies, and expand it. We’re doing this because it’s a good way to think about storytelling structure, and that’s going to be handy later on in this course. I would like you to take one lie from your list, and write a script that takes 30-60 seconds long to read. Once you’ve written the script, I’d like you to record it.

You can choose any way you like to script this story. Perhaps you could make it into a news bulletin for a local radio station: Tonight, the exclusive story of magnetic bears. Perhaps it’s an advert in the back-pages of a newspaper. Perhaps it’s a rhyme, or a song lyric, perhaps it’s a letter to a lover far away, perhaps it’s a short story, perhaps it’s a voicemail, perhaps it’s a telegram during a war, perhaps it’s a dialogue overheard between two people at a bust stop – it could be anything, anything you like, but it has to be between thirty and sixty seconds in length. How many words that is will depend on the speed at which you talk, and the way in which the script is delivered. You’ll have to time it to work it out.

If you want to share your script, please do record a voice message for this show. I am curious about what subjects and genres you choose. I’d love to share a range of silly baby conspiracy theories on this show later this week – surprise me!

I’ll be back again tomorrow with more exercises. In the meantime, don’t stop recording the sounds of your life. Take care of yourself!


  • Self-reflection freewrite (5 minutes)
  • One of the best things about small children is that they’re gullible. As a grown-up, you can tell them anything. I used to lie to my smaller siblings: “Don’t leave any toys out in the garden, they’ll be stolen by cats. Cats are always stealing things.” and “You always have a friend in the moon; if there’s a full moon, you can talk to it.” Take a few minutes to write a list of the most silly, outlandish lies you could tell small children as you can. The more absurd the better. Maybe you could start from lies that you were told when you were a child; maybe you could start by trying to explain something like gravity or the wind in a non-logical way; maybe you could just create an irrational fear of a type of animal. But take 5 minutes to come up with a list of lies to tell to small children. Think of them as baby conspiracy theories. (5 minutes)
  • Choose one of these baby conspiracy theories and expand it to become a script that’s 30-40 seconds long, introducing the main ideas, their origins, and working in any necessary back-story to make your claim believable. Record this script into an audio device.

Further Reading

  • Resources - resources and inspiration for writing, producing, and editing audio stories
  • - a great list of audio resources


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