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One of the things I love about writing challenges is the different ways people interpret the same brief. It’s fascinating how our minds go in different directions from the same starting point.

My friends and I went through a similar experience last week when I set them a Lego building challenge. It was:

Build a Lego spaceship called the Terrible Turtle, to whatever scale and style suits you. It has to have:
– space for at least two crew
– a secret compartment
– some obvious propulsion system

And here were the results:

The Terrible Turtle by Dr Nick
The Terrible Turtle by Dr Nick

First up is Dr Nick’s Terrible Turtle. Dr Nick had an edge on the rest of us, as he’s a naval architect, so pretty expert at ship design. But he’s also a very busy man who ran out of time for a big build, so made the most of ‘whatever scale suits you’. I like how much you can evoke with so little Lego, like when the perfect word tells you everything about a scene or character. Also the lasers are firing, which is cool.

The Terrible Turtle by Monkey Ghost Presents
The Terrible Turtle by Monkey Ghost Presents

The next Terrible Turtle was designed by Matt, who does cool illustrations as Monkey Ghost Presents, which you should all check out. It turns out he’s also something of a perfectionist, who got really into working out how to make functional landing gear. This picture doesn’t quite capture the full majesty of those mechanisms, but does show what a sleek, functional minifig-scale ship he came up with. I also like its backstory, in which it’s made up of parts from different ships. Thinking about the history of places and characters can help inspire interesting details, in writing as in Lego.

Andy spaceship
The Terrible Turtle by Andrew Knighton

Last is my own entry. If you’re thinking ‘that looks like half a castle stuck on top of a frisbee’ then you’re not far wrong, as I didn’t check whether I had ship-shaped bricks before setting the challenge. Still, there’s a detailed engine under the hood and a secret compartment under the captain’s cabin.

Space Batman wants to know who stole his face
Space Batman wants to know who stole his face

Being a writer, I of course got into thinking about characters too, and assembled a distinctive crew. They may not be the heroes this universe needs. In fact, given that they’re drunk in charge of a spaceship, they’re probably not heroes at all. But I had fun inventing them.

If anybody reading this feels like assembling, drawing, writing about or otherwise presenting their own take on the Terrible Turtle I’d love to see it. But for now it’s Saturday, and I’m off to play with my Lego.

Have a fun weekend!