I love writing. I choose not to do it much these days, as I’m focussed on editing and reading, but I’ve always made up stories. And so days like today are wonderful for my soul, because I get the chance to immerse in creative writing completely randomly! Just as when I had fun at the John Marsden session at the WA School Library Conference earlier this year, today has been a simple and creative pleasure. I was asked to come along with a few students to the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre for a full day workshop with Aussie author Simon Higgins (I first met Simon at the Aurealis Awards a couple of years ago). It’s been a great day! Below is one of Simon’s exercises we did (and, at risk of ridicule) my own attempt at it 🙂
Keep them simple
Don’t add anything unasked for
Write about a mother and daughter meeting face to face for the first time in years
Choose your storytelling voice and tense & use throughout
number your sentences
1. Something about the weather on the day or night they meet and place them somewhere (meeting can be anywhere & when)
2. Mention a sound the characters can hear – be specific but don’t over describe
3. Choose a small physical object near or between the two characters.
4. An update on the weather.
5. Writing in the first person (about the other) third person (about either) – mention one item of clothing or an accessory
6. Revisit the sound from sentence 2
7. Make one of your characters look at the object from sentence 3 and as a result, think or feel or imagine something. (first person – about self)
8. Whoever wore or carried the article of clothing or accessory – have them do something with it.
9. As for #5 mention one physical trait (can be shared feature)
10. First time there is dialogue – one of the characters finally speaks. Has to be dramatic, intriguing, mysterious or a hint to why they haven’t seen each other in years.
The wind pushed the clouds in front of the half moon, whipping Asha’s hair around her face as I watched. The whispering of the gum leaves overhead was a constant echo in the torchlit dark. The balustrade was cold beneath my hands, gritty with peeling paint. A playful breeze flirted with the fringes of my shawl, drawing Asha’s attention at last. The rustle of the leaves seemed suddenly louder as the silence between us grew. I clenched one hand on the wooden beam, anxious now as I had not been before. I threaded three fingers through the loops of crochet shawl, nervous and waiting. Her eyes, so much like mine, widened as she took in my appearance.
“How can you be so young?”
I’m here with a bunch of 13-16 year olds and the ones who read theirs out were WAY better than mine! The future of writing in WA is solid 🙂