The first task of the day was a 10-minute free writing exercise. We had to write the first half of a sentence then pass this onto our neighbor. Mine was:
The weather outside is raining and …..
I feel so miserable. I wish I were anywhere but here bit definitely somewhere warmer, especially today. I suppose the weather is quite fitting to the mood of the today’s event. I had never been to a court hearing in my life but today it was to be my sons. I was to stand in the witness stand and testify against my wonderful son. How did this happen? He had always been such a bright and happy child. We were always so proud of him. He went to Manchester University to study Architecture and that was to be the beginning of the end for Charlie. He got in with the ‘wrong’ crowd and the nest time he came home to us he appeared to be a stranger. Although a stranger would have been easier to handle as we would have no history or expectations. We knew then something was not right but he went back the following term. The crisis point came much later with a phone call from the Police. I remember the sinking feeling now..
We discussed what we thought editing was:
· Punctuation, grammar, improving the readers understanding
· Pace and tension – add atmosphere. Stays in flow
· Add more descriptive detail - to slow pace down
· Short words and sentences -to speed pace up
· Cut out the rubbish/noise – any unnecessary text
· Read it out loud
· Get someone else to read
· Adding sensory details
· The teacup test
· Beginnings – ensure they make you want to read on, very important, Sells the tone and can set the promise.
· Check you are showing not telling
Some of the useful tips I picked up through listening to others short stories and poems:
· Don’t worry if your beginning drags if the rest of the story works. The beginning is the easiest part to go back and change.
· The beginning pulls the reader into the story
· Setting out the story to mislead the reader can be intriguing
· Non sequitur is a term used to describe a human trait not ever finishing a thought or is used to describe an irrelevant often humorous thought to a preceding statement or topic. A technique used by Alan Bennett
· Believability of characters- think would this character actually say this.
· Show don’t tell. Don’t break away from action /present moments in text to tell.
· Think about the promise
· Relating themes, scenarios and character personalities
· Sometime nothing as to happen
· Leave things out so the reader can use their imagination
· Leave time for the payoff
Some lines I liked from the stories:
· Squelch of cobbles
· Expanse of opportunity and freedom
· A black hole will eat the sun
· The light had a massive thunderstorm going on inside it
· Like shutting down a computer
· Not the best look
· Same as any other day
· There were few things that Luca valued more than food and cartoons
· Turned his face to the cooler side of the pillow
· Only the wind called back
· A torrent of pinks and purples
· Façade of natural beauty
· I can’t see Flora brewing her Earl Grey in a wonky teapot.
· Lured me into a place I felt safe
· The blue eyed boy who never played the villain
We discussed our clichés and the fact that writers should avoid too many clichés unless they tried to subvert them to trip or surprise the reader. (Make the familiar strange)
The clichés I came up with:
A cliché or cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel
You can’t judge a book by its cover.
That is the best thing since sliced bread
We just have to take out hats off to them
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
You always hurt the one you love
Never poop on your own doorstep
Many hands make light work.
Light at the end of a tunnel
Pull the wool over your eyes
It ain’t over until the fat lady sings
Our group came up with the following subverted Clichés:
The best things in life aren’t things
Plenty more oil in the sea
What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger
Good things come to those who procrastinate
Love has a lazy eye
It ain’t over until Michelle McManus sings
The final piece of free writing:
Having leprosy is great because it is better than dying
Having leprosy is great because I can get better
Having leprosy is great because even though my nose might fall off I won’t be pushing up daisies.
Having leprosy is great because you really appreciate living
Having leprosy is great because I am not contagious
Having leprosy NOW is great because I would have been in a leper colony a thousand years ago
Having leprosy is great because I have loads of new leprosy friends
Having leprosy is great because we share are problems and woes
Having leprosy is great because I have not got cancer
Having leprosy is great because I live for today not tomorrow
Having leprosy is great because it proves beauty is only skin deep, literally.
Having leprosy is great because shit happens
Having leprosy is great because I am alive
Having leprosy is great ….
Think about when your most creative time is (I think mine is definitely late afternoon into the evening)
The photographs were to assist with a group task to come up with a big screen 20th century Fox film pitch.
We had to consider:
Names and roles of the characters
What’s the promise of the story?
What’s the story? Motivation?
Our story called The Race, set in London 2012 Olympics. The genre was Action/Thriller. Our characters were:
Rebecca aged 22 An American athlete – potentially the best in the world from Idaho
Kate aged 24 An American athlete who has been knocked off her perch Rebecca
Travis An English 20 something who has been stalking Kate for a couple of years
Carlos discovered Rebecca and is now her coach. From San- Francisco
Sangeet – A British undercover detective assigned to monitor Kate’s stalker. Undercover as a Hotdog vendor salesman
The opening scene will be an American training track where Rebecca is running and being timed by coach. Basically to introduce the fact that she is predicted to win the gold medal this year. Another track Kate is being given a mystery envelope which the viewer sees shock her but not revealing content (From Stalker)
The film moves with Olympic Team to London and as story unfolds (48 hours before the race) the stalker is revealed with clips of the undercover detective (not yet revealed as such). The stalker kidnaps Rebecca who knows she is in trouble when she is thrown in a room covered in Kate photographs and memorabilia. Although the stalkers intention is purely to sabotage the race, the viewer and Rebecca do not know this. The Olympic Team is petitioned with a ransom note. It is all kept away from the media The US Olympic team are unsure whether Kate is involved in kidnapping, as there is a bitter rivalry between the two.
The 100 Meter race is still scheduled for the next day. Rebecca manages to escape the kidnapper who chases her through the streets of London. Ranjeet who has been monitoring the stalker realize what is happening and follows hotly on the Stalkers heels. Ranjeet saves the day, arrests the stalker and delivers Rebecca save and sound with an hour to spare. She wins the race….