E of F week three: The Little Room

Week three of Elements of Fiction had us discussing two novels with a heavy focus on location (Death in Venice by Thomas Mann and Hot Milk by Deborah Levy) which prompted the following assignment:

  • You are standing on a train platform. There is a board displaying trains. They are all going to different places. Each of those places is somewhere you have been, or lived, somewhere you remember.
  • List these places. And the people associated with them, that you remember. And the incidents.
  • Describe it from overhead, and from on the ground, in summary, across seasons until you reach the moment of time in which the story is set.
  • Asterix half a dozen. Write a page or two in response to each.

I wrote about a young woman called Rose who is visiting her grandmother’s house but has been asked to stay in the ‘creepy’ room – you know, the one that all elderly relatives have!

Continue reading “E of F week three: The Little Room”

E of F week two: Don’t Forget Me

Week two of our Elements of Fiction module involved a lecture on creating characters and discussing two novels, Dexter is Dead by Jeff Lindsay, and Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell. Both deal with character identity and involve killing them off.

We gave/received feedback on submitted work from the previous week and were then presented with the below brief:

Write a single paragraph that conveys the appearance and essential nature of a character. Then follow it up with a character sketch that includes a present day frame and flashback to five years before the action. Anywhere between 1000-1200 words.

I wrote a piece of fiction about Jake, a young man with a longstanding health problem who receives a letter from his past self.

Continue reading “E of F week two: Don’t Forget Me”

E of F week one: Missing

Last year I completed my MA in Creative Writing as Brunel University.

Elements of Fiction (E of F) was one of two modules during the first term (Autumn 2016). E of F involved attending an hours lecture every Wednesday followed by a two hour seminar group. We were tasked with reading two set novels each week within a specific genre, that we would then discuss in group – similar to a book club. Along with the reading, we were also set the task of producing a short piece of creative writing each week, that we would gain feedback on after discussing the novels.

Prior to our first seminar we were asked to read The Girls by Emma Cline, and The Mare by Mary Gaitskill. The Girls is told with flashbacks and The Mare is written from the perspectives of multiple characters. This led to our first assignment: write 1200 words on an open topic voiced by two or more characters who are connected to each other within the story.

I wrote something within the roman-à-clef genre. This is where a story is based on real people or events but with slight alterations and a change of name or location. If you love your cat as much as I loved my Rufus, grab the Kleenex.

Continue reading “E of F week one: Missing”

What’s with the blog hiatus?

Towards the end of 2016 I started my MA at Brunel. Our first module involved writing a short story each week, I shared a few here but didn’t share them all as I was told that if I were to submit one of them for assessment, I could be liable for self-plagiarism! The intense-o-meter then kicked up a few notches at uni and I started a part-time comms job, so there wasn’t much time for writing elsewhere anyway.

In January 2017 I handed in a 5,200 word portfolio and a 1,900 commentary for the Elements of Fiction module, along with a 6,400 word short story/essay for Paths to Publications.

giphy

At the start of May, I submitted a 4,300 word portfolio and a 1,800 word commentary for Feature Writing shortly followed by a 3,300 word synopsis and a 1,100 word critical commentary for Planning a Novel. Factor in the reading, referencing and bibliographies and it’s really no surprise I only wrote one blog post in 2017!

I was made redundant from my job at the end of July, which wasn’t ideal but it did allow for more time to focus on my health, and on writing my dissertation – I handed in the first few chapters of my novel, Hopewell Shadows, at 22,170 words, along with a 4,700 writer’s journal last September.

giphy1

So what have been doing in the five months since?

  • Job hunting for the RIGHT role
  • Attempting to kick the Lyme disease into remission
  • Volunteering my digital skills to LDUK
  • A little bit of freelance
  • Baking (making a mess and eating too much sugar)
  • Exercising to improve my health, build stamina and burn off the excess sugar
  • Further developing my relationship with Netflix and Amazon Prime
  • Lots of other things… I made myself so busy that I actually struggled to switch off and genuinely relax.

This week I finally started a new job. It’s four days a week, so my body shouldn’t take too much of a hit and I can still have a weekday to attend health appointments/rest, run errands, and write! Hopefully the new routine will help balance my time, and I’m super excited to get back to my professional life. I’m also super grateful that I feel well enough to do so.

One of the many things I did with my time out was to re-visit my short stories. I’ve given them a major dust-off and edit and have lined them up ready for sharing, so if you’re a fan of creative writing keep a lookout for my upcoming posts.

giphy2

Creative writing: what I’ve learnt so far.

This week was the last of term, which means no more Elements of Fiction. I stopped placing my short stories on the blog as I wasn’t sure which two I’d be submitting for coursework- and if your work is found on the Internet after you have submitted it, you can be ‘done’ for self-plagiarising!

So what did this module teach me?
No one is frowned upon for typos and this is important; creative writing isn’t about being meticulous with spelling and grammar. It’s great if you have an eagle eye for errors but these things aren’t as important as a well-told story.

If you are just starting out in the world of creative writing it is far more important to focus on character building and plot development than it is to make sure your apostrophes are in the right place. So don’t let being a perfectionist slow you down. There’s time for that later!

I have learnt the importance of:

  • Crafting characters
  • Good structure and pacing
  • Knowing your theme and how to portray it
  • Using symbolism
  • Being descriptive but unbiased – show, don’t tell
  • Provoking thoughts and emotions in your reader
  • Writing good dialogue

The Elements of Fiction module has allowed me to experiment with these things along with genre and finding my ‘style’. Each week we provide feedback on each other’s work and then use it to improve our next pieces.

If you are a keen writer and lacking good resources for feedback I encourage you to join a writers group – constructive criticism is vital for a writers development.

I’m going to miss writing a weekly short story for this module but next term I’ll be writing a feature article every week for the Feature Writing module. Our Paths to Publication module has also come to an end and will be replaced by Planning a Novel – the big one!

The Little Room (assignment 3)

This week we read two novels with a heavy focus on location which has prompted the following assignment:

  • You are standing on a train platform. There is a board displaying trains. They are all going to different places. Each of those places is somewhere you have been, or lived, somewhere you remember.
  • List these places. And the people associated with them, that you remember. And the incidents.
  • Describe it from overhead, and from on the ground, in summary, across seasons until you reach the moment of time in which the story is set.
  • Asterix half a dozen. Write a page or two in response to each.

I wrote about a young woman called Rose who is visiting her grandmother’s house but has been asked to stay in the ‘creepy’ room that all elderly relatives have!

Continue reading “The Little Room (assignment 3)”

Don’t Forget Me (assignment 2)

If you read my last post you’ll know that I’m studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Brunel. Each week for our Elements of Fiction module we are set a writing assignment.

Below is the brief we were given for week two:

Write a single paragraph that conveys the appearance and essential nature of a character.
Then…
Write a character sketch that includes a present day frame and flashback to five years before the action.  Anywhere between 1000-1200 words.

I wrote a piece of fiction about Jake, a young man with a longstanding health problem who receives a letter from his past self.

Continue reading “Don’t Forget Me (assignment 2)”