This week we are writing stories in the present tense. Here are some useful links:
Some famous books were written in present tense: Bleak House (mostly), Clarissa, All Quiet on the Western Front, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Room, Bright Lights Big City, Wolf Hall, Rabbit Run, The Girl on the Train, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Damon Runyon’s stories, All the Light We Cannot See, Fifty Shades of Grey and many more.
Here are three prompts:
As soon as I see them, I know I have to have them.
There is a pile of clothing on the side of the street.
She is wearing a mask to disguise her identity.
I hope you enjoy the exercise.
We all enjoyed writing stories from a picture prompt last week, so let’s have a go working from a written prompt. I have three for you:
1. “I have to go!” he/she said, suddenly jumping up from the table.
2. Something unusual is found in a winter coat pocket.
3. You get on a bus and end up in a remote town where things seem a little odd.
Choose whichever one you like. Try and write somewhere in the 300-600 word range and bring along copies for everyone.
I’m going away for the weekend so there will be no group this week.
For next time, we’re going to try writing from a picture prompt.
Find a picture and write a story prompted by it. It can be a little longer than usual because I don’t think there will be many of us. So up to about 1,500 words or so. Try and make it something with a beginning, middle and end. Bring the picture with you when you come.
Here are some thoughts about writing from a picture prompt: – What feelings does it inspire? – What secrets might it contain? – What does it remind you of? Does it bring up any memories or other associations? – What might be going on outside the frame?
– What might have happened right before the scene in the picture? What might happen afterward?
1) Your character is in the scene you see in the painting. Something terrible has just happened, and your character is still trying to figure out how to react… 2) Your character is in the scene you see in the painting. Something is about to happen that will turn your character’s world upside-down…
3) Your character is in the scene you see in the painting and is about to reveal a secret… 3) Every night, your character dreams about the scene you see in this painting. These dreams are strangely vivid, and your character is sure that they contain a hidden message…
Of course, you don’t have to use any of these ideas. If anyone can’t find a picture that inspires them, I can send you some.
Thanks to those who came last Sunday. I enjoyed the session and found it really useful. I think I am beginning to get a handle on “showing and telling” at last.
For this coming Sunday, I thought we could have a look at description.
Here are a few links.
On describing characters:
On describing settings:
On description generally:
On not describing at all:
For the exercise, take a couple of pictures from a magazine or newspaper, one perhaps of a person or people and the other of a landscape, a room, or another setting, and try describing them. Bring those descriptions along, with the pictures, and then we can all see if we can visualise from what you have written and compare it with the original picture to see how close you got.
I think this could be useful.
There will be no group on October 6 because the Sober Parrot is having a training day. We will be meeting as usual on October 13, when we will do the “showing and telling” exercise we were supposed to be doing on September 29. I hope that makes sense.
For the group on Sunday 29th, we’re going to have a look at the perennial topic of “showing and telling”. Remember, you need both, but they do different jobs.
If you don’t always grasp the difference, here are some useful links I found:
Anyway, our exercise for next week is to write a little scene or story in two versions, one predominantly “telling” and the other “showing”.
PS. The Stroud Short Story Competition for November closes at one minute to midnight on Sunday 29 September, so if you have anything, go for it.
For our group on Sunday 22nd September, I thought we could try an exercise that comes from the FutureLearn course in Creative Writing that some of you may seen.
You have to write a piece about yourself, a relative, a friend, a historical figure or some subject you are interested in and it has to contain one falsehood and three truths. Then you write another that contains three falsehoods and one truth.
The pieces only have to be up to 150 words each. We read them out and then everyone tries to guess the truths and the lies. I think the idea is to show how you can write imaginary material in such a way that it sounds real. Why not give it a go?
Next Sunday we’re going to have a look at characterisation and character.
As Tony rightly said, ‘characterisation’ is all the stuff about your character’s favourite colour and the books he likes to read. ‘Character’ is about what he does in a crisis.
There are loads of questionnaires online to help you with characterisation. I have chosen this one because it doesn’t expect you to work through a huge list. Instead you choose the most important ones.
Do that for a character, and then write a short scene in which the character shows how he/she reacts in practice.
Here’s the link: https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/character-questionnaire/
Hope to see some of you on Sunday.
This week Rod is going to lead a session on Writing to a Prompt. We will practise the art in the group, so there’s no need for any preparation.