Creative writing – more examples

Writing
“And THIS is the room where it happened…”
I was going to post about clichés and conventions in writing this week. However, I have been busy with my self-editing course (the first instalment was on plot), and so haven’t got any further than a brief outline of what I wanted to write about. I would hate to publish a blog post late (regardless of my lax approach to punctuality in real life) and so I have decided to take the easy way out for a second time.

As I mentioned the first time I took the easy way out, I have been keeping my creative juices bubbling (and having a lot of fun) working on exercises from “642 Things to Write About”. Here are a selection of pieces I have recently written. I feel the need to tell you again (to save my own blushes) that these were written without too much thinking, are entirely unedited, and, therefore, on the silly side.

So… to the writing…

The girl with no face

Prompt – “A strange girl who hides herself under layers and layers of clothing”

I imagine she has red eyes, or maybe no eyes at all. That would explain the veil tugged down to her chin. Perhaps she doesn’t even have a face. I know she’s a girl though. I can tell she’s a girl despite the man’s coat and the numerous cardigans and the wellington boots. She tilts her head like a girl and sips her drink like a girl. She’s turned towards me now, twisting her cup with one hand. I think she likes me.

Reading, ‘riting and raising a thief

Prompt – “The first lie you were caught in”

It had been an empty Oxo tin, the foil-wrapped cubes now replaced by words. Cat. Dog. Rat. Scrawls on scraps of paper, only just beginning to represent animals in my head. My parents wanted to test me on my flash cards but I suspected an ulterior motive. “Get your tin”, they said.

I walked to my bedroom, thumping heart and fussing fingers. I picked up the tin, clutched it to my chest. I imagined the contents sizzling white, turning the scribbled letters to ash. My prize possession. My stolen goods. “Open your tin”, they said. Was it me or were their smiles knowing? I removed the lid. “A conker!” they said. I blushed, stammered, stuttered.

“I found it in the playground.” I couldn’t do it though. “No, actually, I took it from the nature table when no-one was looking”.

That was better. The truth was out.

(True story, by the way)

To let…die

Prompt – “Write a story that ends with the line, “And this is the room where it happened””

The bathroom isn’t to my taste. Clean enough, new enough, but why so grey? He opens a cabinet, gestures to the shelves inside. “Deceptively spacious”, “small but perfectly formed”, “cozy as a skinny man’s coffin”. Estate agency buzzwords. Well, except for the last one, perhaps.

We move into the hallway. It’s long, carpeted and I like it, but not enough. I’ll let him show me the rest anyway. It’s a bit like a day out, house-hunting – a poor man’s National Trust or English Heritage card. He leads me into the bedroom.

“It’s a good area, you know. Good schools. Nice pubs.” He looks out of the window. “Got a missus?” He’s a chatterbox, this one. I nod, even though it’s none of his business really. I glance at the bed. She’d love a bed like that. Not that we’re taking the place.

He passes me on his way into the hall. “There have been a few problems though. It was in the news.”

“Oh?”

We duck into a second bedroom and a study before he speaks again.

“It involved Ivory Lettings actually.” He points at the badge clipped to his jacket pocket.

“How so?” I ask.

We’re at the bottom of some stairs now. I sigh. It’s only the first viewing of the day. Five more, two of them with this guy. He leads me up the steps.

“A man got hold of some business cards. Pretended to be an estate agent”.

I shake my head because I hadn’t heard that – I’m not local. He’s at the top now, stopped in front of a door. “Not everything made it into the paper though. He killed a man.” He pushes it open, flicks a light switch.

“And this is the room where it happened.”

****

I hope you liked them! I have noticed I tend to write in quite a different style when doing exercises – maybe I view it as a chance to branch out and try something new. It’s all good practise in any case, and I’m off to apply what I have learned to my self-editing course exercises. I will be back next week with my already-planned out (and, for me, far less embarrassing) post on conventions and clichés.

-Kirsty

Creative writing practice: some examples

creative writing practice
The grave with no name (Image – pixabay.com)
My first draft of Mamacona is “resting” and I am trying my best not to think about it (although brilliant ideas and sudden, horrible realisations pop into my head about 11 times per day). In the meantime, I am absorbing as much as I can about self-editing, continuing my research into the Incas and devouring novels. However, I am also trying to practise my creative writing – at least a little bit – most days.

My main practice has been in the form of exercises from 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. If you have ever had a desire to “pen an ode to an onion”, “write ten sayings for fortune cookies” or “write stage directions for an actor that insult him or her personally all along the way”, I would definitely recommend this book. (I’m not working on commission, honestly.)

I thought I would share with you a few bits and pieces I have written using prompts from the book. Disclaimer: these are mostly very silly as I thought it would be fun to write the first thing that came into my head, and I have not meddled with them in any way since.

Zimmer frame soup

Prompt – “Write a recipe for disaster.”

You will need a very large pot (stainless steel recommended). Fill with soup (homemade or shop bought is fine) and simmer gently. Go outside. Take one long, flat stretch of road. Grease with butter, preferably unsalted. Eat a kilo of bananas and scatter the empty skins liberally across the street. Gather up fifteen old-age pensioners – look out for walking sticks and zimmer frames, these are the juiciest specimens. Place each pensioner on a skateboard, and hand him or her an egg. These eggs are precious and need to remain intact. Go back inside. Your soup’s burnt, hasn’t it?

A sad tale of non-friendship

Prompt – “Something you’ve always regretted saying.”

I regret saying nothing, that one time in the playground. I was five. So was she. She skipped up to me with her rope – the new girl with long, brown hair and no friends. “Will you be my friend?” she asked. I wanted to say yes, to lead her – skipping – to the wall where we stood in a line playing something or other. But I was shy. I said nothing and turned the other way.

A ghost story for kids

Prompt – “You are a camp counsellor. Make up a story that will scare the bejeezus out of your eight- to ten-year old campers.”

“Lights out, little campers.” That was the last thing anybody ever said to Ellie Lacey. Ellie was ten years old, like a lot of you are now. She loved ghost stories, especially the ones that take place on a dark, stormy night like tonight. They didn’t bother her usually, but that night she couldn’t sleep. It was their last night at camp, and their counsellor had told them a bedtime story about a little girl. A little girl at camp, ten years old – the same age as Ellie. The little girl had gone to bed in her cabin, just like she had every other night for the past week, except, this time, when she woke up, the cabin was empty. No campers, no counsellor. Ellie couldn’t get the little girl out of her head, even though the counsellor hadn’t mentioned her name. She just couldn’t fall…

Ellie opened her eyes. It was still dark but she could tell it was much later than it had been. She must have fallen asleep in the end. She must have stopped thinking about the girl with no name. Darn it, she was thinking about her again. The little girl in the story had left the cabin, gone into the one next door. Empty. The one next to that. Empty. Empty, empty, empty. No stuff even. Rucksacks. Clothes. All gone. Ellie tried to see the time on the wall clock, but her eyes hadn’t grown used to the darkness yet, so she carried on thinking about the counsellor’s story. The little girl had gone to the camp fire next. There was nobody there either. Nothing but ash and empty marshmallow skewers.

Ellie could see a little better now. She sat up, feeling panicked suddenly. The cabin was unusually quiet. She looked at the bed opposite. Shona wasn’t there, nor Sarah in the bunk above. Ellie jumped from her covers and ran from bed to bed. They were all empty, just like in the story. She ran to the next cabin along and the one after that. Yes, you guessed it. All empty. Ellie didn’t want to visit the camp fire but she couldn’t help herself. She didn’t want to think about the girl in the story anymore but she couldn’t help that either. The girl had left the camp fire and walked into the woods. Who knew why? Ellie had thought that had been an idiotic thing to do. The girl had walked and walked until she reached a clearing. In the clearing, there had been a gravestone. On the gravestone had been a name. The girl’s name.

Ellie shuddered. She told herself it was just a stupid story, that the other campers were playing a stupid joke on her. She had reached the campfire now. The flames had gone out and the stools were empty. She picked up an empty skewer, in case she needed something sharp. Not that she would, of course – it was just an elaborate prank. She looked up. Yes, that’s where they would be – the woods. She took a deep breath and walked into the shadows. She walked and walked, around and around the woods. It was still dark and she couldn’t see another living soul. Eventually she reached a clearing. In the clearing stood a gravestone. Carved into the gravestone was her name, Eleanor Lacey…

Anyway, enough of that. It’s your last night of camp and it’s getting late. Lights out, little campers.

*****

I hope you have enjoyed reading these as I certainly enjoyed putting them together. Look out for more exercises in future blog posts, and let me know if you try any of them yourself! You can also find similar creative writing prompts online.

-Kirsty