Category Archives: Writing

Hay Festival – DO NOT Miss This!

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I posted Hay earlier but it was a review of events I attended on Saturday – some of which are now more than 24hrs old and only available through the Hay Player. I intended to make my posts within the same hours the events are still available for free.

Today I have visited the Hay tents a lot, I managed to catch a few events LIVE which is always special and is truly the way I intended to do it (which is why I sat online pre-booking tickets).

I watched the 2nd TRANS.MISSION II event this morning and learnt a lot more about political issues surrounding conservation efforts, which I didn’t realise was as damaging as it is, the borders they create. I enjoyed hearing again how scientists and artists have worked together. I love the fact that there are parallels to be found between this worlds. Again the videos are available on You Tube.

Naomi Millner, Ted Feldpausch and Juan Cárdenas in conversation with Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: THE HISTORY OF LIFE – UNDERSTANDING THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF COLOMBIA

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The Colombian strand of the project features Colombian writer and activist Juan Cárdenas and a team of experts led by Dr Naomi Milner and Dr Ted Feldpausch. Using the research work as inspiration, Juan has created a piece of creative writing to communicate the socio-ecological systems within Colombia and their response to environmental change. Dr Naomi Millner is Lecturer in Human Geography at  the University of Bristol and is working on one of three linked research projects under The Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme. Dr Ted Feldpausch is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter whose research focuses on tropical forest and savanna ecology. Juan Cárdenas is a writer, creative writing teacher and activist who has worked extensively with Afrocolombian and indigenous communities mapping oral traditions. 

The story that Juan created using the research is called “Espiral” and can be watched here

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II pairs NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create new stories about ongoing research projects.

 

I came across PEN in 2016 when I wrote a poem, subsequently published on Reuben Woolley’s site I am not a silent poet – we sadly lost Reuben but his site and the fight it demonstrates still remains. PEN campaign for the rights of artists who have been  wrongly imprisoned, the organisation promotes freedom of expression and literature across frontiers.

I know about Human Rights and some of the issues involved in this discussion, but I also discovered a lot. This is not an area now for activist and political anarchists, we all need to be involved in human rights. We need active citizens, now more than ever. The Cemetery of the Companionless on the outskirts of Instanbul – as mentioned in Elif Shafak’s book 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds and in this event has shocked me, the information is still reverberating around my head!

 

Here is an article she wrote The Guardian.

Elif Shafak and Philippe Sands

THE ENGLISH PEN PLATFORM: GIVING VOICE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A conversation about writing into an authoritarian world, finding ways of telling truths and making the case for Human Rights. Shafak is the author of the global bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World. She writes in both Turkish and English. Sands is a lawyer, President of English PEN and the author of the Baillie Gifford Prize-winning East West Street. Introduced by Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN.

As I write this blog post I am listening to Afua Hirsch’s lecture which is eye-opening, particularly on issues around local journalism, government propaganda and national press. The erosion between news and comment. A retrospective on the damage that has already happened and the use or misuse of public money. I am glad I decided to check this event out – which is another reason for HAY creating these events for free is a bonus. People may discover something or somebody they really needed in their lives.

Afua Hirsch

THE CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS LECTURE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

What is the future of journalism in our newly wrangled world? Hirsch is Wallis Annenberg Chair at The University of Southern California. She is the author of Brit(ish) and Equal to Everything, and hosts the About The British Empire podcast on audible. She writes for the Guardian, and broadcasts internationally. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.

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James Shapiro’s discussion on Shakespeare in a Divided America was revealing and it was fascinating to hear how he became an expert on the subject following real life research rather than an academic route. I was very impressed with his Q&A, extended responses.

James Shapiro

SHAKESPEARE IN A DIVIDED AMERICA

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Shakespeare’s position as England’s national poet is established and unquestionable.

But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England’s greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America’s darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination

Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history – drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors – Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.

Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? He also serves on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 

After this came my festival HIGHLIGHT so far, though I think it will still be my highlight moment at the end of the May/the festival!

Inua Ellams

What I loved before this event started was the number of people in the comment box who have never seen him read/perform. Some had checked the NT (National Theatre) production ‘The Barbershop Chronicles’ out and come from there. This is no longer available for viewing – but if you ever get a chance. I discovered Inua Ellams late on, by late on I mean he is a poet who was not on my radar for a few years, then it took a few more years to see him anywhere within 200 miles as where I live! I eventually met him in Birmingham and subsequently have caught him perform at several festivals. He is a humble, spirited man – and he keeps basketballs on his bookcases! I thought he had moved from poetry to writing plays but through this event I discovered he had worked on this script for a while and wrote it not long after I met him. This is one of the reasons it was difficult to catch him on the poetry circuit, he was busy touring his show!

The event starts with a big surprise  –  I won’t spoil it for you (although it is probably all over the media by now)… I will add it once the event moves to Hay Player – what else can I say…

watch!

Inua Ellams

AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC – OR AT LEAST A HALF HOUR

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The multi-award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams introduces extracts from his celebrated autobiographical one-man show and discusses the latest twists and turns in his life with the online audience. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, the show tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home.

HAY Inua Ellams

It was a JOY!

Hay Festival

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I spent much of Saturday involved in other online events and so had to play catch up with Hay – this meant that I didn’t get to blog it – so am keeping this brief as most events are now only available on Hay Player.

The first event I attended is now available on Hay Player. The TRANS. MISSION II project videos are available both on the Hay Festival website and You Tube and are worth having a watch for sure even if you missed this event. It was an interesting event covering difficult ecological problems.

Erika Stockholm, Jemma Wadham and Raul Loayza Murotalk to Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: IN HOT WATER – PERUVIAN GLACIAL RETREAT AND ITS IMPACT ON WATER SECURITY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The Peruvian strand of the project features Peruvian writer Erika Stockholm, Professor Jemma Wadham from the University of Bristol Cabot Institute, Dr Raul Loayza Muro from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru and a team of glaciology experts. Jemma researches hydrological and biogeochemical processes that occur within glacier and ice sheet systems and in their fore fields, which have a potential regional or global impact. Erika Stockholm is a writer, theatre producer and actress and President of the Asociación Cultural ¡Al teatro por primera vez!.

Using Professor Wadham’s work as inspiration, Erika created a story to spotlight Peruvian glacial retreat and its impact on water security and resilience to natural hazards. The story is called “Glacier Shallap – or the sad tale of a dying glacier” and it can be watched here.

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II pairs NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create new stories about ongoing research projects.

 

Greg Jenner’s talk in contrast to the Natural Environment was humorous and a joy to watch. I am glad he changed his angle on writing this work and for him, that it happened at Chapter 1 and not half way through.

Greg Jenner talks to John Mitchinson

DEAD FAMOUS: AN UNEXPECTED HISTORY OF CELEBRITY FROM BRONZE AGE TO SILVER SCREEN

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

In this ambitious history Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity’s historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. Dead Famous is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society.

Greg Jenner is a public historian, broadcaster, and author, and an Honorary Research Associate at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he does some occasional teaching. He is the Historical Consultant to BBC’s Emmy & multiple BAFTA award-winning Horrible Histories, and was a key member of the team on Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans. He is the host of the BBC comedy podcast You’re Dead To Me!, is a regular voice on BBC Radio 4, and his TV appearances include BBC2’s The Great History Quiz and Inside Versailles. His first book A Million Years In A Day was a UK number 1 audiobook bestseller and was translated into nine languages. Chaired by John Mitchinson of Unbound, formerly elf-convenor at QI.

And finally I watched Jonathan Bates, another Wordsworth event which I was very much looking forward to and is still available to rewatch for the next couple of hours. This was very informative and his book is going on my birthday list! I have included a link to the Waterstones website and his book – the official seller at Hay Festival and therefore offering a discount.

I liked hearing about Jonathan footstepping Wordsworth and also the historical context, some of which I knew and some I didn’t. A beneficial lecture. During this time of pandemic many of us are yearning for the natural world. Wordsworth is perhaps a way of finding this solace.

Jonathan Bate

THE POET WHO CHANGED THE WORLD: WILLIAM WORDSWORTH AND THE ROMANTIC REVOLUTION

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A dazzling new biography of Wordsworth’s radical life as a thinker and poetical innovator, published to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.

William Wordsworth wrote the first great poetic autobiography. We owe to him the idea that places of outstanding natural beauty should become what he called ‘a sort of national property’. He changed forever the way we think about childhood, about the sense of the self, about our connection to the natural environment, and about the purpose of poetry.

He was born among the mountains of the English Lake District. He walked into the French Revolution, had a love affair and an illegitimate child, before witnessing horrific violence in Paris. His friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge was at the core of the Romantic movement. As he retreated from radical politics and into an imaginative world within, his influence would endure as he shaped the ideas of thinkers, writers and activists throughout the nineteenth century in both Britain and the United States. 

-In association with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Wordsworth Trust-

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Radical Wordsworth

Hay Festival Goes Digital

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I have had the pleasure of attending online festivals since Lockdown began and I haven’t managed a timely blogpost for any of them. You will note that Hay events started on the 18th with the schools programme – the full programme is available and tickets for all events are FREE. You can watch missed events for 24 hours and after that pay a small fee to watch on Hay Player.

For those of us who have experienced it for real, it is not the same – however it has opened it up to a wider amount of global audiences and it is wonderful that access is free.

ENJOY!

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© Culturewhisper

Here is more information: Source hayfestival.com

HAY FESTIVAL DIGITAL #IMAGINETHEWORLD TAKING PLACE ONLINE 18 – 31 MAY

Hay Festival Digital #imaginetheworld runs 18–22 May with our Programme for Schools featuring fabulous authors including Cressida CowellPatrice Lawrence and Onjali Q Rauf. From 22–31 May, Hay Festival Digital takes place online with interactive events from more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time.

Attending Hay Festival Digital 2020 online is completely free and couldn’t be easier. Simply browse the programme below as you normally would and, if an event interests you, click the Register link to save your spot. Your virtual seat will be confirmed by email, and we will even email you again ten minutes before the show to remind you the event is about to start. You can chat with other audience members and ask questions of the speakers, just as you would at a real Hay Festival event.

Here’s more information on how to register

All our events take place at the BST advertised. If you are accessing from a different time zone it will still be possible to replay for free up to 24 hours after the event. Following this all events will be available on Hay Player.

 

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My Huge Lockdown Writing World

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like many people right now, we are in Lockdown. I’m keeping very busy, possibly even busier than I would be if I was balancing the job and the writing. I am a lot better health-wise and this new lifestyle has the benefits of being easier on my body, enabling me to perhaps do more and I also find staying busy in times of crisis helps me cope. Believe me there is plenty to keep me busy beyond the desk too.

My normal to do list would be A5, at the minute I feel I need A3! Anyone else the same? I think part of this busy is coming off the back of being out of action for so long, especially in fast moving worlds like the Arts, so much has happened that I have not seen/read/heard as I wasn’t just away from the scene, I was away from my brain for most of the 14 months too! I am thoroughly enjoying being a glutton of creative endeavours and as the world moves online the globe shrinks too! I find I can reconnect with people I have not seen for a long while.

I have spent the past 3 weeks (since the end of NaPo) thinking I should blog about that, but because I am writing again after a long, fallow period, I am struggling to find time to write about the writing! I will be posting retrospectively but there are a few events coming up that I shall blog over the coming week. Some fresh content for you all to enjoy will come after that.

 

In the meantime, there’s plenty already in here – use the menus and have a splash about.

 

Stay Safe.

NaPoWriMo 2020 It’s Coming!

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It is nearly time for NaPoWriMo, an annual flurry of poetry writing. Find out more here.

They have a few starter activities just for fun. The silly test mentioned in this post gives you a chance to choose Bot or Not. I had a 70% success rate. A great party game for the self isolating at this time.

If, like me you enjoy this writing month you will just be pleased to see the site back up and running and the new banners and buttons for 2020.

The Two Days to Go post invites us to go and look at Patrick Stewart’s twitter account where he is reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, I have happily already discovered this already (and retweeted) but it serves to remind me that one of the things I LOVE about NaPo is discovering resources and new to me poets and poems. Also the participants sites can be a great find too.

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Here on AWF I am always a participating site but never (or rarely ever) post a NaPo poem as this affects the copyright and means I may not be able to publish them. You will write a lot of rubbish over the next few weeks – give yourself that permission, nothing is wasted. It’s all worth it for those few poems that do work, that do go on to grow up and get published, for the ones you include in your next collection, for the ones that speak to your heart.

The day before NaPo starts there is always an Early Bird post to get you warmed up and started. So this is not a drill – take a deep breath and get ready to dive in with us!


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Hello, all! Tomorrow is April 1, and the first day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! But since April 1 arrives a bit earlier in some parts of the globe than the east coast of the United States, we have an early-bird resource and prompt for you.

Today’s resource is The Slowdown, a daily poetry podcast hosted by former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Podcasts are a nice way to add some poetry to your life. They also give you a chance to hear the rhythm of poetry out loud. Sometimes it can be very surprising, if you’ve been reading a poet on the page for many years, to hear their voice out loud, and realize it’s much different than the voice you’ve been giving that same poet in your head.

And now, in the spirit of an early-bird prompt, I’d like to invite you to write a poem about your favorite bird. As this collection of snippets from longer poems suggests, birds have been inspiring poets for a very long time indeed!

If you don’t have a favorite bird, or are having trouble picking one, perhaps I might interest you in myfavorite bird, the American Woodcock? These softball-sized guys are exactly the color of the leaves on the floor of a Maine forest, and they turn up each spring to make buzzy peent noises, fly up over meadows in elaborate courtship displays, and to do little rocking dances that YouTube jokesters delight in setting to music.

 

They are also quite odd looking, as every part of their body appears to be totally out of proportion with the rest. For a poetic bonus, they also have many regional nicknames. In Maine, they’re often called “timberdoodles,” but other regionalisms for them include “night partridge,” “mudbat,” “prairie turtle,” Labrador twister,” “bogsucker,” “wafflebird,” “billdad,” and “hokumpoke.”

Tomorrow we’ll be back with another resource, prompt, and our first featured participant.

In the meantime, happy writing!


I started to listen to the Slowdown Podcast and appreciated the slowness of it juxtaposing the violent onslaught of next door’s far-too-loud-radio, I know of Tracy K. Smith, I discovered her before she was a US Laureate and I know some of her work, I know she plays with pace and rhythm and sometimes line breaks used to enable this breath. Looking at the Poetry Foundation page I decided to treat myself to some of her work too and revisited Declaration from Wade in the Water.  Copyright © 2018

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During the podcast, Tracy recites Interesting Times by Mark Jarman. Bedlam right now during the Coronavirus, for sure. The words resonate with double meaning right now. An echo of the//for the global crisis.

Choking on these lines;

Everything’s happening on the cusp of tragedy,

We’ve been at this historical site before, but not in any history we remember.

To know the stars will one day fly apart so far they can’t be seen
Is almost a relief. For the future flies in one direction—toward us.

 

Mark Jarman – “Interesting Times” from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2011

I then settled down to read the poetry snippets https://poets.org/text/thirteen-ways-looking-poems-about-birds before considering my own writing for today.

This is where the madness began (NaPo madness is normal – it starts with the research/ search engines then pages later leads you someplace else and (hopefully) back again)!

I read the snippets and then watched the videos of Maureen’s chosen bird and it hit me, WA – and the magnificent birds of Perth – as it fits my current project. That’s another NaPo GOLD-DUST tip: if you can bend the prompts to fit creative projects you are trying to fulfil – this isn’t always possible but when it is – it is GOLDEN – as often we are forced to write beyond ourselves.

I then watched a series of videos before I decided on the one. It has been made from photographs rather than footage but the pictures have magically captured the music of the birds. I am yet to pen a poem as I am getting a set ready for this evening. But I will… (the NaPo promise to yourself).

I watched the video and made a list of over 10 Australian birds, then chose one by looking for images of the species. I then searched for facts and went back to my research document to highlighted key fact on appearance and movement. I harvested a few images to study & wrote a short 5 line poem about the Royal Spoonbill.

Enjoy!

 

INKSPILL 2018 CONTOUR Poetry Magazine Issue 4 COMING SOON

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We hope you have enjoyed the INKSPILL weekend.

During my time as worcestershire Poet Laureate I created Contour – A Poetry Magazine. The launch of this issue was hoped to be our final post for INKSPILL 2018*.  Here I was to invite you to curl up with a warm drink and experience the world of poetry and all things poetical in the latest issue of CONTOUR.

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*However, the issue is not ready to go live (in case you missed the post I have had an operation) and this has set me back/time online not possible etc. This issue will go live very soon and I will post on the blog to promote it when it does.

Until then I can share some news and the previous issues of Contour for you to enjoy.

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My Laureateship ended in June 2018 but I have decided to continue with Contour.

It will now be an annual publication released as the final event of INKSPILL weekend. Submissions will open in July 2019, keep your eye on A Writers Fountain for more details.

LINKS:

SPECIAL EDITION ISSUE 3 A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Transatlantic Poetry Project as featured in Poetry Society Poetry News.

 

ISSUE 2 CONTOUR LOVE

 

ISSUE 1 CONTOUR PLACE

 

INKSPILL 2018 Feature – Interview with Alison May ALL THAT WAS LOST

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What inspired you to write All That Was Lost?

All That Was Lost is an idea that I’ve had on the back burner for a long time now. I started writing a rom com about a stage medium years ago, but the subject matter was pulling the story in a darker direction. And my rom com heroine had a mother, who was also a medium, and had been in the business for years and years. She was a total pro at what she did. And that character seemed so much more interesting than my twenty-something main character. So the rom com (and the daughter) got ditched and I put my old pro centre stage, where she belongs.

 

Patrice isn’t a classic heroine. What drew you to that character?

I’m fascinated by the question of to what extent our personalities are formed by our upbringing and to what extent we get to choose who we are.
Patrice is an extreme example of that. It seems that she’s based her whole life on a lie – what does that do to a person over fifty years? Does the lie become truer because someone sells it hard enough?
I was also really excited to write a slightly older heroine than I’ve written in the past. Patrice has decades of good and bad experiences that colour every decision she makes. I think we often cast older women as supporting characters – someone’s mum (as Patrice started out!), someone’s grandmother, someone’s wife – so putting all the complexity that Patrice has built up over her life at the heart of a story felt good.

What are your top tips for new writers trying to write or publish their first novel?

Just write the sodding book. That is always the top piece of advice. There’s lots of stuff you can learn and develop in terms of craft and understanding story structure, but none of that will help you if you don’t get some words down on the page.
Following on from that, listen to advice, but make your own decisions. There are a lot of writing tutors and consultancy services out there – I’m one of them – but what none of those people can do for you is find your voice and work out what sort of stories you want to tell. That has to come from you, so don’t let all the advice that’s out there overwhelm who you want to be as a writer.

 

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INKSPILL 2018 Feature – All That Was Lost By Alison May

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2018 VERSION GUEST POETS TO USE

Alison May was a Guest Writer for INKSPILL back in 2015. We are delighted that this September Alison launched her latest novel ‘ALL THAT WAS LOST’. This afternoon we are happily featuring Alison May and her new book on INKSPILL.

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Author bio

Alison is a novelist, short story writer, blogger and creative writing tutor who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories.

Alison won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin, Choc Lit and Black Pear Press.

Alison has also been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards.

Alison writes emotional fiction, and her seventh book, All That Was Lost, was published by Legend Press in September 2018.

She also writes modern retellings of misunderstood classics, in collaboration with Janet Gover, under the penname Juliet Bell. Alison is currently Vice-Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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You can find out more about Alison on her website: www.alison-may.co.uk, by following her on Twitter or Instagram @MsAlisonMay or on her facebook page: www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor/

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‘Intriguing with a cast of complex characters that keep you fascinated, this is a page-turner and surprisingly tender’ Katie FForde

‘A resonant, emotional story about grief, loss and love with a complex, tragic heroine—a fake psychic reaching the end of her career. Although it’s about death, this story is never depressing, and ultimately it’s about recovery and healing’ Julie Cohen

‘A beautiful and compelling story that delves into what is real, what we are willing to believe and the power of grief’ Liz Fenwick

‘”All That is Lost” is a bold, beautiful thought-provoking novel, that sensitively confronts difficult themes’ Rowan Coleman

‘It is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.’ Linda’s Book Bag

‘What an interesting and unique book… a fascinating, at times heart-wrenching, look at secrets, the cost of keeping them hidden, and whether hiding them requires lies.’ Fireflies and Free Kicks

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Workshop with Kevin Brooke – The Sealed Envelope

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This workshop was devised with Young Writer’s in mind… we were all young once upon a time and still are at heart… so give it a go. 

Guest Writer Workshop with Kevin Brooke 

The Sealed Envelope

Young Writer’s Workshop on the theme of A Sealed Envelope with the story to be written in approximately 300 words

In giving advice to a writer, J K Rowling has been quoted as saying “Write the story as well as you can, revise it, refine it, and if it still seems alive to you, you’re done”.

The items each student requires are to complete the workshop are – a pen, some paper and an imagination.

The Workshop begins with each student being handed a sealed envelope

Please don’t open this as yet, because this is crucial in the creation of your story. All you need to do to begin with, is think about what is inside the envelope. Write down a few ideas of what it could be, for example, a letter, pictures, symbols, something else?

Character Creation

Now that you have some idea of what’s inside, I want you to think about who or what would send it to you? Try and picture them, imagine what they’d look like. Are they young / old / a boy / a girl / an alien / a Vampire / a goblin?

If you are struggling, have a look around the room to see if there is something that catches your eye or inspires you. If you are in a library, have a look at some of the books on the shelves and focus on what you can see on the front covers / internal illustrations.

Plot creation

Now that you have a picture of what is inside the envelope and who may have sent it, try to think of a reason why? For example, is it a threat, a wish of goodwill, a symbol of hope / disaster or a cry for help or even a goodbye?

Setting creation

Now we have a character and a reason why the envelope has been sent. The next stage is to try and imagine where they were when they sent it. Were they on the beach, on the moon, hidden in a wardrobe, inside a dungeon? Draw some pictures if this helps.

The Resolution

The story you have written so far should tell you whether it will be a happy ending, an open ending, or a sad / violent ending…read the story, think about the character, the setting. Read it through your notes several times – the ending is there if you think about it. The most important aspect is that the resolution must be based on how you think the story should end.

How? First of all, don’t forget the basic checklist

  • 300 words isn’t many. Try to keep characters to a minimum – maybe one main character and a maximum of two others.
  • Use dialogue if you can as this brings the characters alive.
  • Try not to use too many adverbs i.e. words ending in ‘ly’. If the man is tall, we don’t need to know he is really tall. Tall is usually enough.
  • Try to be specific i.e. instead of ‘she ate a pizza’ maybe think of the ingredients i.e. ‘spicy pepperoni with mushrooms’. In this way, the reader not only knows the details of what is on the pizza, they gain a sense of taste.
  • Avoid clichés – one way of doing this by using Imagery. As Stephen King is quoted as saying “see everything before you write it”. Try, therefore, to visualise every sentence you write and then write what you see.
  • Another way of bringing your story alive is by experiencing what your character is experiencing. If they go into a forest, do this for yourself, make some notes on what you saw, felt, heard or smelt and use these in your story.

Reading your work aloud

I’m a great believer in the notion that story telling is best told live. It provides the storyteller with a few, powerful minutes to take us to their alternative world, wherever it may be. In addition, if you are reading to others, listen to their feedback – they might tell you something you hadn’t considered, but something that could transform the entire story.

 

INKSPILL 2018 ARCHIVES Open

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INKSPILL WRITING 1

Yesterday we opened the Archive and shared some posts from previous years of INKSPILL. Today the Archive opens once more – an offering from 2015 a workshop on Creating Characters by me, Nina Lewis.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-workshop-2-creating-characters/