So last Wednesday, as mentioned in a previous post, was the second week of the Creative Writing Course I’m attending. Here’s a bit of a recap…
The two pictures you see above were part of the first activity. From a large collection of pictures we were asked to select two and write character profiles of each person, considering facial expressions, posture, body language, clothing, surrounding environment. We were to describe what kind of people they were, what occasion the photo was taken for, who took the photo and how the person felt. We were then to construct a scene in which the two characters interact.
I must admit, my character profile was a little vague, i simply made a sort of brainstorm of words before starting to run out of time. This approach would be favoured by myself in the construction of a character but with more time I would flesh out a character in a more prose based manner.
As time began to ran short, I knew I would find it difficult to write a scene in full. Earlier, before the class had started, our tutor Andy had mentioned ‘very short stories’ which I had never heard of before. The idea was simple, write a story in very few words, he recited one that was only 6 words long. With time running low and with an idea in mind for what the scene would be, I chose to pen the following very short story:
The photographer’s strobe fired, reflecting off the navy recruit’s gold pin badge. His father shed a tear.
I really love the idea of very short stories, I use twitter (@thetomhoyle if you’d like to follow along) and it seems like the perfect medium for these very short stories. As it happens, there’s already a hashtag for them (#vss) which I hope to use quite frequently.
Our second task was interesting, and one that I found quite difficult. After walking round a small area of the school, we each picked an everyday object that we had seen and were asked to describe it without using its name. I had a brief discussion with Andy on this one because I was pretty stuck, he suggested I think more about emotions and metaphors to describe the object. I will be the first to admit, I am not good with metaphors, but I gave it a shot anyway. Knowing a weakness is a fine excuse to practice getting better! Here’s what I scribbled, see if you can guess what I had spotted?
A flick of this object will bring life to the lifeless, enable vision, and banish the monsters.
The key to this exercise is to get thinking about things differently, looking beyond the obvious, I think it’s a great way to do that and I’ll probably do it more often.
On to exercise three. Another selection of pictures had been provided, along with a selection of headlines cut from newspapers and magazines. Picking one of each, we used the picture as a basis for writing a story, titled by the headline. The picture and story I wrote (unedited) are below…
“Our Life In The Attic”
Me and my mates Anthony and Chester always loved the idea of tattoos. At school we used to take black markers from the teacher’s stationery cupboard and draw on each others arms, legs and hands. Crude dragons, anchors, the obligatory heart with the word ‘Mother’ scrawled underneath. Our mothers never appreciated it of course, after getting home we would be forcibly scrubbed clean. We’d all meet up at break times, nursing raw arms, ready to cover them all over again with the same juvenile scribblings.
School wasn’t our favourite place in the world, we would frequently skip lessons, hiding ourselves away in an old storage room. We called it The Attic…
I didn’t get too far into this one, it took some time to think up how to structure the content, where to start and where to go. This was only really the introduction, I planned to go on, telling the story of how the 3 kids, after growing up, set up a tattoo studio called The Attic, named after their old hideaway.
To finish off the evening we were given one more activity. Andy had provided a series of first lines from stories that he’d written in one way or another, we were to finish them off. The line I used was “There was a monkey who wanted to fly”. The idea was to write a story that kids would enjoy and I decided to mix it up a bit by writing a limerick…
There once was a monkey from Skye,
Who desperately wanted to fly,
His dreams were to travel,
But those dreams would unravel,
Unless the monkey was willing to try.
I must admit, I’m not too happy with this, I tried to put a bit of a moral to the tale but struggled rhyming the lines so the overall effect is fairly weak. I’ll have to work on my kids poetry.
So that was the end of week 2. Another enjoyable session that left me excited for the third instalment. Of course, we were set the ‘Artist’s Date’ homework that I detailed in a previous post, have you had a go at it? I went out earlier today and wrote a fair whack of words, I’ll post them on Wednesday…
Until next time, post some very short stories in the comments for me to read.
Oh, and the everyday object I chose to describe was a light switch. Fairly obvious really!