fiction and other writing

Archive for the ‘Writing Tasks’ Category

Pablo wins a Readers’ Choice Award from Connections eMagazine

The Connections eMagazine runs an annual Readers’ Choice Award and Pablo the Storytelling Bear was nominated for the Children’s Chapter Book category. Imagine how thrilled I was when it won joint third place in its category. It was awarded a bronze Readers’ Choice Award, which is now on its new cover.

The story of Pablo the Storytelling Bear is a mixture of magic and real life for polar bears, who are struggling for survival in some parts of the world. Pablo is a magical bear, aided by Gertrude Hermione Humbug. He tells Bill about how polar bears survive in the wild and what happens if they live in a zoo. Of course the magic element allows some fun to be incorporated in the stories.

You can read this story for free on kindle unlimited and it’s only £1.99 for the ebook and £5.00 from Amazon here.

If you enjoy reading, take a look at the other winners in the Connections eMagazine, (link above). I shall certainly be reading some of the winners’ books. The current edition also has some 100 words flash fiction, which are fun. Why not have a go and write a hundred word story, yourself?


Cruella Deville – A Writing Exercise

The writing task was to take a well known story and write it from the point of view of the villain. I chose to skip the part that we’ve all seen at the pictures. This task was given to the writing group by Elizabeth Horrocks. (Winsford Writing Group.) Why not have a go yourself and pop it in the comments.

‘Bloody dogs,’ Cruella spat as she cradled her ankle.
All she’d been doing was carrying home the Sunday joint from the butchers, when the two Dalmatian dogs had attacked. One bit her ankle as the other leapt up and grabbed the meat.
‘I’ll get you, you bloody spotted vermin. If it takes the rest of my life, I’ll get you all and make your smelly hides into a freaking coat.’
Her voice petered out as she watched the two dogs disappear round the corner. She sat on the ground distraught. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t her fault. The fact was the joint was gone. Mother was going to be annoyed but father…
She shuddered. The bruises on her back hadn’t healed yet from last week.


Thirty Years Later

‘Well Ms Deville, now that you’ve been sentenced for dognapping, do you regret your actions?’ asked Doctor White.
‘Of course I do. I got caught. But if I’d had just one more day those rotten little pests would have been a spotted coat and maybe a matching handbag. Why did God give them spots if they weren’t meant to be a fashion accessory?’
‘Now Ms Deville, did you ever think how sad the people would be who lost their dogs?’
‘They shouldn’t be allowed to spoil our planet. Bloody poop machines.’
‘You know there are people for whom their dog is their only friend. Some think of their dogs as their surrogate baby. Can you imagine the distress they feel at losing their dogs?’ said Doctor White.
‘Sad gits,’ said Cruella. ‘They need to get a life.’
‘So, who is in your life Cruella? Who loves you?’
‘No-one and certainly not a bloody dog.’
‘Well I can see we’re not making progress here. Anyway, what I’ve decided would be the best therapy for you, is if you worked in a dog rescue centre and I’ve arranged that for you, starting tomorrow.’
‘You’re joking, right?’
‘Now let me just remind you Cruella that if you want early release, you won’t harm these dogs and you’ll treat them properly.’
‘Oh I’ll do whatever I have to do, but you won’t change my opinion of stinking mutts.’

On the first day of her work experience she was supervised by Sharon. She had to clean the litter trays and change the water in each kennel. Most of the dogs ignored her as she didn’t talk to them or stroke them, but one shaggy white dog, called Moppet, rushed up to greet her.
‘Go away mutt,’ she said as she performed her duties.
For the next few weeks this scenario was repeated, but as time passed Moppet’s greeting became more subdued, until one day she lay on the floor and lifted her head to look at Cruella, looked quizzically and rested her head back down on the floor.
‘What’s up with her?’ Cruella asked Sharon.
‘She’s depressed. Nobody wants her, because she’s not very pretty and although she likes you, she knows you don’t like her. Still there’s nothing we can do about that.’
Sharon walked off to prepare the other dogs’ food.
Cruella looked at Moppet, who had closed her eyes and put a paw across her face. She walked over to her and sat down beside her.
‘I don’t know how Sharon can say you’re not very pretty. I think you’re the best looking dog here.’
Tenderly she stretched out her hand and stroked Moppet. After a few moments Moppet started to nuzzle up to her and soon she laid her head on Cruella’s lap.
Sharon watched from a distance and smiled to herself.
The next day Cruella said to Sharon, ‘When I get out of here, I’ll take Moppet. Will you keep her for me?’
‘I thought you weren’t too keen on dogs.’
‘I’m not, but Moppet’s different.’
‘Well I’ll see what we can do.’
Cruella went over to Moppet’s kennel and she jumped up, wagging her tail.

At their next meeting, Doctor White said, ‘Do you now understand how important a dog can be to someone?’
Cruella bit back a rude comment. She wanted Moppet to come home with her when she left.
‘I suppose I do. I won’t take anyone else’s dog, but I do want Moppet and she wants me.’
‘So I’ve heard,’ said Doctor White.

And so it was that one of the most hard- nosed dognappers can now be seen walking with her dog, Moppet, through the woods early every morning, and if you peeped through her window later in the day, you might see them sharing a sofa and a meat pasty, watching the television.

The Teacher’s Chair – A poem for children

Mum came to school the other day.
Teacher said that I’d been bad.
I listened to her rant for ages
and mother looked so sad.

But when the teacher tried to stand
I couldn’t help but giggle;
I’d stuck super-glue to her chair
which made her knickers wriggle.

She sat there while my mother smiled
and said sorry for her plight,
but when unstuck and free to walk,
I decided to take flight.

This was a writing exercise in our Winsford Writing Group. The leader of the session, Elizabeth Horrocks, said to write something using naughty, but not obscene words as children liked that. The above is my effort. We only had 10-15 minutes to write. Why not have a go and put it in a comment here?

Three Hearts

This week I went on a ‘Relax and Write’ writer’s weekend at Gladstone’s library, where Alison Chisholm gave us writing tasks. For one task she dealt out a pack of cards and each of us took one card. I had the three of hearts and this is the light-hearted (sorry about the pun) poem I wrote from that prompt.

Three Hearts

She loved him with her simpering heart,
and sent him gifts and money.
She phoned him in the dark small hours,
and called him, ‘dear, sweet honey’.

He loved the man who made his suits;
the gentle voice entranced.
He loved the skill the man displayed
and even how he danced.

The tailor loved his Labrador,
and gave his heart completely.
She was his life, his everything.
She begged for food so sweetly.

This triangle of hoping hearts
fluttered on throughout the year.
Love flowed and ebbed its complex path,
showing neither favour or fear.

Resource Ideas for Writers

Tom Benson has written a blog about resource ideas for writers. You can take a look at the post here
The idea is that we all add our favourite resources in the comments. In this way there’ll be lots of writing resources available to us all. Why not take a look?

Writing workshop used at Winsford Writers Group

Activity 1
Choose a dramatic incident from your life, perhaps when you were a child. You don’t need to tell anyone about it but remember the feelings. Love, fear, injustice.

E.g. I was pushed down the stairs by my sister, but when my mother asked why I was crying she didn’t believe me and told me not to tell lies.

Now change the event – the people involved – place -but remember the feeling.

Jamie, felt his skin burn with anger. He knew he’d locked the door of the office. He remembered checking the handle. His could feel his heart thudding loudly. It didn’t make any difference; no-one was listening to him. He found it difficult to explain how carefully he had turned all the lights off, closed the internal doors, set the alarm and locked the outer doors. Even now he could feel the coldness of the metal handle as he double-checked the building was secure.

Try to use all your senses and describe a made-up incident, evoking the same feeling.

Activity 2
Now write about the made-up incident from a different point of view. How does it change the telling? Are different feelings coming through?

Activity 3
Take the made-up incident and imagine it had happened to someone considerably older or younger. (You might have to adjust the incident so that it makes sense.) Try to think about whether they would deal with their emotions differently because of their different level of life experience.

Activity 4
Focus on another character involved. How would the resolution of the incident change if the ‘supporting character’ had behaved differently?

Acknowledgements for this activity, which I have adapted, from the excellent book called, ‘What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers‘ by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.
‘What If?’ contains over eighty writing exercises that will help move your writing on. The aims of each activity are set out clearly and the tasks are explained, so that everyone can improve their writing skills. Writing examples are given so that you can check you’re on the right track.

The Witch’s Pockets

‘Empty your pockets,’ commanded the Goblin.
So she shoved her hands into them deep;
then she turned the bright sunlight that shone in his eyes,
into a long, icy night’s sleep.

She took out a humbug, made of rats’ tails,
to sooth her sore cackling throat;
then in his dreams she showed him her spell book
and her best moth-wing long coat.

Her boomerang star she threw to the sky,
and caressed her spare twigs for her broom.
Sneezing the magic dust into the air;
her light globe lit up the room.

‘My pockets are deep for my cloak is so long.
How much more would you like to see?
I could show you an eye-ball or a child’s smile
or could wake you, to ladybird tea.’

A star bumps his head and the Goblin awakes.
Laughing eyes stare into his own.
He blows out the globe and flies to the moon
to ponder the sights he’s been shown.

This was a writing task set by Liz Picken: to write a poem based on a list.- things you might find in a witch’s pocket.

The Right Ring

Simon was sitting behind a stack of brown files heaped on his desk. He’d been working for Messrs Grimshaw and Grimshaw for the last five years. They didn’t appreciate him at all and he was given all the boring cases, such as conveyancing and wills, while the old boys creamed off the lucrative work. Idly he picked up Mr Toby Windsor’s file. It had been sitting on his desk for weeks. He blew hard and a layer of dust exploded into the air dancing about in the sunlight. ‘I might as well start processing this,’ he thought and started reading.

It was a particularly sad tale. Mr Windsor had been found at the remote cottage he rented, six months after his death. The bailiffs had been sent to the dilapidated cottage because he’d not answered rent demands. They’d walked in to find the remains of Mr Windsor. A search of the property had revealed a will leaving everything to his son, a Mr Michael Windsor, but as it turned out there was nothing much of value to leave. Toby Windsor hadn’t owned the property or furniture. His clothes were well past their best. It seemed he’d lived past his usefulness and had been left alone in his isolated cottage tomb.

Simon found he was cross that in today’s world so many old people were ignored and he fought against the wave of negative feelings that threatened to engulf him. He stood up and went over to the kettle. ‘Right, let’s be positive,’ he told himself firmly. Toby Windsor had one item that was worth passing on. It was a very fine, thick gold band, wedding ring. ‘So how would he trace the son?’ he thought. He took his coffee back to his desk and opened the laptop. A quick search revealed seventeen Michael Windsors. ‘Oh well,’ he thought, ‘this will take all afternoon.’

At ten past five, he was just dialling the last ‘Michael,’ when he realized he’d actually placed the ring on his finger. It looked good. It felt right. The weight was pleasing and he stroked the smooth surface. He loved the rich yellow glow that reflected the sunlight in his room. His finger hesitated from pressing the next number. ‘This probably wasn’t the right Michael either,’ he thought ‘and even if it was, he hadn’t visited his father in his hour of need. He doesn’t deserve the ring. And we won’t get paid for this work; we’re just doing a favour for the police.’ Simon slipped the gold plated ring his ex girlfriend had given him from his other hand and popped it into the small plastic bag stapled to Toby Windsor’s file. Then he wrote: Unable to trace Michael Windsor. He signed and dated the papers and left it to be archived with the other files he’d dealt with this week.

The Writing Task was to write for half an hour about a lawyer and a ring.

Happy Ever After (Writing Task)

‘Cindy go and make the tea and tidy your hair,’ said Annabelle. ‘Our visitor won’t want to see you.’ She smiled coyly at the young man who sat on the edge of the sofa.

Cindy left the room quietly and went to the kitchen where she heated water and put a large slab of cake on a china plate. When the tea was made she took it in and placed it quietly on the table near her step mother. There was a slightly unpleasant sour smell and Cindy realized that both her half-sisters, Annabelle and Carrabelle, had taken off their shoes. She slipped out of the room just as Annabelle was trying to force her size eight foot into Cindy’s delicate size four, glass shoe. She’d lost it at the dance last week.

‘Let me have another try,’ whined Carrabelle as Cindy slipped into the kitchen and closed the door.

It was ten minutes later when she heard her step mother’s piercing voice. ‘C..I..N..D..Y show out our guest.’

Cindy went to open the door to let Prince Alex out of the house. She had scraped her hair back from her face and slipped on an old pinny that had belonged to her mother. He didn’t look at her. He didn’t say, ‘thank you’.

‘Where will I find my love?’ the prince said pitifully to his guard. The guard looked at Cindy and a look of recognition flickered in his eyes.

Cindy shook her head at him just as he opened his mouth. He closed it again, looking puzzled.

‘I don’t know, your highness,’ said the guard and he and the prince walked towards her neighbour’s house.
At eight o’clock the next evening there was a knock on the kitchen door. Cindy with her hands covered in washing up suds opened the door. There was the guard.

‘I’m sorry to trouble you, Miss, but I had to come and find out why you didn’t want the prince to recognise you. Marrying him you’d be made for life. He’s completely minted.’

Cindy smiled at the young man.

‘Be honest. Do you like him?’ she asked.

The man’s cheeks slowly went red. ‘He’s my boss, Miss. It’s not up to me to give an opinion.’

‘Well I’ll give you my opinion then. Last week, while he leered down my cleavage for three hours, he told me about all his possessions. It was like a never ending list – on and on. I couldn’t get away. I couldn’t say to the prince, “I’d rather be at home, scivvying for my selfish family”. I was stuck with him all evening.’

The prince’s guard smiled and then he started to laugh.

‘You’re so …you are so refreshing.’

Cindy smiled back. ‘Tea?’

The writing task was to take a well known story and give it a different ending. Try to involve a cliffhanger. In my version, the cliff hanger is the ‘will they – won’t they get together’. I’ve left it to the reader to decide.

Why not try writing a different ending to a well known story and send them to me? I’d love to read them.

Spring – not (A pantoum)

The grey skies that darken, should be blue.
Rain tumbles on the sodden ground.
White snowdrops bob their fairy heads.
Purple crocus push through the earth.

Rain tumbles on the sodden ground.
The wind rages with its bitter blast.
Purple crocus push through the earth.
Bright spring sun hides its warmth.

The wind rages with its bitter blast.
White snowdrops bob their fairy heads.
Bright spring sun hides its warmth.
The grey skies that darken, should be blue.

The writing task at Winsford Writer’s meeting today was to write a pantoum poem about Spring but today wasn’t a very spring like day!

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