Thursday, 30 August 2018

What I did in the holidays - Writing Prompt #8

It's that time of year when children all over Britain are getting ready to go back to school after the long 'hot' summer holidays. Our creative writing group is no different; excited members are probably packing pens and notebooks into their bags as we speak, eager to be writing and sharing their poems and stories once again... 😄

But for those of you who cannot wait until this evening, here's a few little exercises to get your teeth into. Write 250 words on any of the following:

1. What I did in the holidays ... and will never do again.
2. The parcel for my neighbour ... which I accidentally on purpose opened.
3. How I overcame boredom ... and ended up on national TV.
4. A day out with my metal detector ... and how it changed a life.
5. The surprise party ... and the even more surprising present.

Nobody was more surprised than Paddy,
when Sandra turned up in exactly the same outfit.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Write a premise - Writing Prompt #7

The premise is the foundation of your story, a short synopsis of the plot, a statement of intent. 

Your premise needs to contain three things:  the protagonist, the setting, and the crisis/conflict the protagonist is approaching. It should be the thing that makes other people want to read your story, so ideally will also contain an emotional hook. EG Charlie, the three-legged dog, needs to get home to his owner, but the river has flooded and Charlie cannot swim...

A premise is a useful thing to have BEFORE you write a story, because when you get lost (and you invariably will), it's a little reminder of where you started and where you wanted your story to go.

  • Just for fun, try writing 10 potential titles for books you’d like to write. 
  • Now, choose 3 of those titles and write a premise for each book. 
... and then Charlie learned to swim and lived happily ever after.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Meditation on my Emptiness

An emptiness waits for me in the light
For I have been so filled
This gift of emptiness reminds me
Not to hurry from the days of sharing and delight
Into the rote and rhythm of the every day.
I realise the emptiness is not empty
It overflows, with an abundance of memory and joy
It is an emptiness into which I can pour
The full vessel of my emotions
Love and loss,
Love and hope,
Love and beginning,
Love and ending,
Love and……
And then tomorrow, and tomorrow
Can come as they will come
And winds of change will blow
There will be highs and lows
But here, now, I will hold this precious emptiness
In the light
That is ever blessed and ever blessing.

Celia Cartwright © 6/7/18
South Lakes Writers

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Some thoughts about what constitutes a short story...

A short story...
  • Is a snapshot of a life – rather than the whole of it.
  • Should contain the same elements as a novel – characters, plot, story arc, conflict, character development and transformation – but be significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
  • Focuses on just one conflict
  • Will begin as close to the climax as possible; there’s no time for set-up. A novel can afford to take a more meandering path, but a short story must immediately drop the reader into the world of the story.
  • Will end as quickly, and efficiently as it started, often with a twist.
  • Has one point of view
  • Has two, (or three at most), main characters
  • Is set in one place
  • Covers a short period of time – a few hours to a few days.
  • Be anything up to 5000 words long 

What makes a good short story?
  • Interesting character(s)
  • Interesting events
  • Conflict
  • Resolution
  • An emotional response from the reader
  • Humour
  • A structure
  • A twist
  • Ease of language
  • A voice you want to listen to
  • Emotion
  • Originality

Flash fiction stories have no precise length constraints but don't typically exceed 1,000 words. 
Microfiction stories are sometimes defined as having fewer than 300 words
Drabble fiction – stories with fewer than 100 words
Nano fiction – fewer than 55 words
Twitter fiction, aka twitterature – 140 characters maximum

Friday, 1 June 2018

Write a letter ... Writing Prompt #6

Turns out, the wolf isn't the
bad boy he's cracked up to be.
Write a letter to a character from a fairy tale.

  • Think about who are you writing to, and why? 
  • Who are you? (IE the real you, or a character you?) 
  • What is the tone of your letter?

We did this exercise in class last night and had some amazing results. With very little exposition, it was clear who we were writing to, and who we (the authors) were. Even our first draft attempts at this revealed huge back stories we had no idea existed before, helping us understand both writer and recipient, and giving their stories a whole new edge.

Go on, have a go. It's just a bit of fun 😊

Follow up: Write a reply

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Every Picture Tells a Story

"Your task is to write a poem or a piece of prose from the point of view of one of the characters in this picture."

This is what one of our group came up with ...

All our sheep are special. 
We treat 'em all with care
We feed 'em swede and carrots
And plenty of fresh air.

On Mondays and on Tuesdays
We teach 'em how to knit, 
They're clever little blighters
And pick it up real quick.

On Wednesdays, we eat pancakes
A proper lovely feast
(But sheep'll only eat 'em
If they're spread with malted yeast.)

On Thursdays and on Fridays
They teach us how to "Baa"
And when we're all done learning
We go and grab a jar.

Saturdays are natter-days
We love to have a laugh
And then they all take turns to be
Pulled round in the old bath.

We play with 'em on Sundays
And sing 'em songs of praise
Then brush their woolly coats out, 
And leave 'em be, to graze.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Shoot the moon

Come fly with me above the stars
Soar on eagles wings by far
Ride a galaxy or two
Shooting stars will follow you
Higher, swifter up we go

Feel the fancy in the flight
Clouds are fluffy like cotton wool
Smooth and comfy off we go
Zooming round and round
Expressive joy and happiness  abound

Shoot the moon my turtle dove
Just continue, feel the love
We never want the ride to stop
On the unicorns back we hop
Jump the rainbows all around

A poem by Scottydotti, who was feeling inspired on 18/5/18

Friday, 11 May 2018

The 10 Word Sentence - Writing Prompt #5

Here's a quick and easy exercise for you.

  • Write a 10-word sentence. Exactly 10 words.
  • When you are happy with your sentence, add the sentence before and the sentence afterwards. 
This is an exercise to start you thinking about a story. How did we get here? Where do we go next? But it’s also an exercise to make you think about the exact words you use.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Poetry Starter - Writing Prompt #4

Here's a quick poetry starter exercise for you.
Using a one-word start, create a list of connected words -- words you associate with the start word. 
Now add a few additional words to turn your list into a poem.
Don’t deliberate ... try to work quickly and intuitively.

Jess started with the word – Wood, added 22 more words to her list, and then wrote this poem.

  In the wood,
  Bare tree branches
  Are sprouting catkins.
  A heron flies
  Suddenly past ash,
  Whilst a wagtail
  Hops between
  Primroses and anemones.
  Below green buds
  Bluebells line a pathway
  Which leads to a
  Waterfall, with
  Tumbling water,
  Roaring over stones
  In white bursts of surf,
  With Kingfisher above
  Baring bright colours
  Flashing past.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Loosen up your creative muscle

As a warm-up exercise each week we pick a random word and write for ten minutes about anything that comes into our heads related to that word. It’s an exercise in loosening the creative muscle. Sometimes we end up with gibberish, and sometimes we end up with something unexpected – a story, a poem, or a memory about something specific.

This week, Dorothy was inspired by the word TABLE and wrote this...

Dorothy's table
I would love to sit at the table to have tea with my son, but he never wants tea downstairs, never mind a table! However, about three years ago, when I came home from work, he told me to shut my eyes.

I thought, ‘Help! What's going to happen?’

He said, "Open them now!" and to my surprise, there was the most beautiful rainbow glass coffee table placed in the middle of the lounge floor.

“Wow!” I said, “this is truly amazing, Son. A million thanks...”

You see, I have wanted a rainbow table for years, and he always said,  "Don't be so flippin’ weird, Mum." So you can imagine how blessed I felt, to know he'd remembered. The thing was, it came just after the heartbreak of losing my mum. He thought it would make me smile again. It sure did. I asked him how on earth did he manage to find such a perfect rainbow table.

“Mr Google, of course,” he said.

It still has pride place in our lounge. On the table there are always candles burning – I love my scented candles – a glass of red wine, a book, and always a notebook of some sort, and pens and pencils. When I got it he did say I wasn't allowed to clutter it, but he approves because in my house he knows there are always notebooks and pens on tables, chairs and even the floor.

I just adore my rainbow table. A few friends, and even my landlord, have nearly fallen over it. But I always say, “Breaka my table, and I breaka yir jaw!" Ha ha!

I guess it's been my favourite table of all time.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

D was once a doddery dodo

This week, one of our writing games was inspired by Edward Lear's alphabet poem, 'A was once an apple pie...' We each picked a few letters of the alphabet and created our own mini versions of the poem.

We really liked this one from Elspeth, and she has bravely agreed to be the first group member to go public. 

D was once a doddery dodo,
Dafty, downy don't know how do,
Did it die, too dim, no know how?
Dash it all it didn't have to,

Dodo, don't go, long gone dodo.    

Friday, 20 April 2018

And they're off...

Last night was our very first group meeting as South Lakeland Writers, and I think it's fair to say that we all enjoyed it. We spent some time getting to know each other, worked on our first writing exercises together - some of which we will share with you - and laughed a great deal. 

The group is not full yet, so there is still the opportunity to join us. You don't have to commit to the whole term and are welcome to drop in. 

We next meet on Thursday 26th April,  at Unit 31, the Factory, Aynam Road, Kendal, and it's only £7 per session. (Or call to ask about concessions)

Contact us by email @ 
or call: 07927 720497

Friday, 6 April 2018

Time to sign up to South Lakes Writers...

Starting Thursday 19 April,  7 – 9 pm, for 10 Weeks

At Unit 31, the Factory, Aynam Road, Kendal

£7 per session or £50 in advance for the whole term.
(Call to ask about concessions)

To book your place: Email

Or call: 07927 720497

Materials and Refreshments provided, for a small donation to a local charity

We look forward to meeting you,

Claire & Wendy

Friday, 23 March 2018

Rules for Life (an A - Z), Writing Prompt #3

Here's a quick creative writing exercise for you. Simply write a sentence, story, or poem, in which each word begins with the next letter of the alphabet. For example:

Always be courteous,
Don't eat fish guts, 
Harness infinite joy, 
Keep looking marvellous, 
Never offend people
Quit repeatedly stalking the unsuspecting vet who x-rays your zebra.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Speaking of anthropomorphism... Writing Prompt #2

"I love you, Bucket."
Here's a fun exercise to get you thinking about dialogue.

  • Write down the names of a dozen household objects (e.g. corkscrew, saucepan, broom, key, rug) on different pieces of paper and put them in a container of some sort. 
  • Take two out – at random – and imagine these two objects are having a conversation. 
  • You are going to have to think about the kind of conversation they are having. Is it an argument? Are they in love? Is it educational or instructive? Is one object admonishing the other? ... you choose. Jot down some ideas.
  • Write your dialogue as talking heads – using only he said/she said and no context. This is to get you thinking about the character of your objects. Use only the language, words, and expressions your object/character might use.
  • When you are happy with the words your objects are saying, fill in the context - i.e. setting, speech tags, thoughts, etc, and anything else to make this exchange real.
  • "And I love you too...
    but don't expect me to
    clean up your mess again."
  • Feel free to share your conversation below. 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Pocket Writing Prompt #1

Here's an idea to get you thinking about character, inspired by Ian McMillan's wonderful poem, 
Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket ... 

A dark night. 
Some words that nobody could ever spell. 
A glass of water full to the top. 
A large elephant. 
A vest made from spider’s webs. 
A handkerchief the size of a car park. 
A bill from the wand shop. 
A bucket full of stars and planets, to mix with the dark night. 
A bag of magic mints you can suck forever. 
A snoring rabbit.

When we read this poem, we get a real sense of the wizard's magical power and some insight into his personality. 

"You should see what else I found in here..."
Now, imagine a character of your own. Maybe it's a character you are already familiar with, either real or fictitious. Or maybe this is a new character; someone you don't know very much about yet. Either way, spend a few minutes jotting down some notes about them and when you think you know them, write your own poem or story of ten things you might find in your character’s pocket.

Did you learn anything new about your character? 

If you want to post your poem or story below, we would love to read it. 

Friday, 2 March 2018

Show, not tell.

Show not tell is one of those concepts it can be hard to get to grips with. Inexperienced writers will often be told it’s all ‘tell’ and you need to ‘show’ more, but they are not alone; even experienced writers will slip into telling sometimes.

If you don’t know, ‘showing’ is the description of events which allow the reader to experience the story through the action, words and senses of the character. It’s like a picture in writing; the reader can look at it and work out what’s going on without you having to tell them. Ernest Hemingway called it the Iceberg Theory, or the theory of omission, where what is not said is just as important (if not more so) than what is said. You give the clues and allow the issues to emerge.

The whole process of showing allows the reader to engage with the text by expecting them to fill in the blanks and use their brain. You have to respect your reader to do this, to develop their own understanding of the action without detailing everything and laying it all out for them, but generally, this makes for a much more enjoyable reading experience.

‘Telling’ leaves little room for the imagination. As a reader, it’s boring and often exhausting to plough through pages and pages of narrative summary or description, however beautifully written it may be, and will often be the cause of your reader skipping ahead looking for some action.

Children especially, will not tolerate endless boring pages of you telling them how it is. They have the imagination to fill in the blanks on their own.

If she tells me that one more time, I'll scream, thought Eddie.
But, there are times when telling it how it is, is the right and proper thing to do. If, for example, you wrote a whole novel showing everything, you would have one seriously long narrative to get through. Showing requires more words so telling may cover a greater period of time more succinctly. And also, those between scene moments need to be 'told', to help the story progress and keep the pace. Telling is a legitimate shortcut which will help you and the reader move to the important drama.

Still confused? Here are a couple more posts for further clarity...

Monday, 26 February 2018

Join our creative writing group!

(*or fully charged laptop)

Starting Thursday 19 April,  7 – 9 pm, for 10 Weeks

At Unit 31, the Factory, Aynam Road, Kendal

£7 per session or £50 in advance for the whole term.
(Call to ask about concessions)

To book your place: Email

Or call: 07927 720497

Materials and Refreshments provided, for a small donation to a local charity

We look forward to meeting you,

Claire & Wendy

Friday, 23 February 2018

Creative Writing Evenings

Are you a writer in the South Lakes area?

Would you like to develop your writing in a relaxed atmosphere with other writers?

Come along to our writing group, where we can give constructive feedback and support to facilitate your stories and/or poetry writing.

Everyone is welcome regardless of ability. 

Materials and refreshments can be provided.

Watch this space for further details…