Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Morley Literature Festival Creative Writing Workshop

I attended two excellent events as part of the Morley Literature Festival yesterday and thought I would review them for my followers.

First I attended the Creative Writing Workshop with Fiona Shaw at Morley Town Hall.  This workshop dealt with rites of passage (i.e. birth, death, marriage - a period or an event that makes a change in your life) and writing by indirection (using little things to bring the character to life).  We started with introducing ourselves and telling a story about our names as they carry significance, either to the person or the one who named them (e.g. if you were named after someone).  Then we had to get into pairs and think about an event that has happened to us or someone we know and tell the other person directly.  They then had to feed back succinctly to the group.  I chose when I realised that one of my lectures in University was giving me the insight I needed to get 'into my characters heads' and my 'pair' chose her driving test (or rather the history that led up to her taking it).

We then had to take this story and think about the things behind it - the drama that led up to this event, choose a moment or invent/imagine a scene and write about it in the third person.  This was to be done briefly, but we had to get into the mind of our character.

This was the piece I wrote that I will be editing heavily and using in one of my forthcoming novels:

She was sat in the lecture wondering why on earth she was here.  She knew that she'd chosen this subject, but only because she couldn't do Gothic Literature and Ms Shutoff insisted that it would help with opening up her dark side creatively.  She wondered what horrors they were going to look at this week and which hideous pictures she would have to see flashing before her constantly for who knew how long before she could block them from her mind.

'Great' she thought, as the images of little girls with bloodstains like roses blooming on their clothing came up on the overhead projector.  Another nutcase who wanted to shoot children and she knew that meant she wouldn't be sleeping for some time to come.

As she listened to the lecturer drone on and on about the crime and flicked picture after heartbreaking picture up for them to see, she wondered if she would ever get any of this right.  She didn't care why this psycho killed, she was just saddened that he had.

When the lecturer announced that he had shot himself after his shooting spree, something clicked in her head.  He hadn't shot them because they needed to die, he'd killed them because he did.  Suddenly she knew what he had been thinking, knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was right for once and that she would be able to raise her hand and tell them the answer and they wouldn't look at her in pity and amusement.  She would no longer be the safe mature student who thought that she had lived just because she was older than the rest of them.  This time, she'd got it right.

He had shot the girls because he wanted to kill himself, not just his body, but his whole self, his mind and in his mind he needed to kill that part of him that was defective before he moved on.    They were a temptation and if he removed the temptations, he could start again in his new life cleansed of this sickness that he could not close off in this.  They had to die in order for him to live.

With a tentative gesture, she raised her hand and laid it all out before them.  He saw them as evil.  Temptresses stopping him from being the person he wanted to be, the person he would be once they were gone.  His fresh start.

We then read out each of our pieces whilst discussing specific things we like or felt that had not worked.  I was advised to use more dialogue and others were advised to use less.

We were told about the Friends of Morley Literature Festival Short Story Competition that is free to enter up to three times before 31 July 2013 fmlitfest@yahoo.com and the free on-line writing group www.youwriteon.com where the top 10 read are perused by Random Publishing.

I will be reviewing the author talk by Fiona Shaw and Katharine McMahon at Morley Library yesterday evening on my blog tomorrow.

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