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Friday, 25 April 2014

Making a whole:  work for week 2

Present a setting.  This is the ‘everyday ordinary’ against which the story or feelings of the piece  (it doesn’t matter what genre you are using) are set, and which will in some way be disrupted or undermined or threatened.   Try to write about something you know and make the description as sharp as you can, making the things mentioned, not your explanation, create atmosphere and ambience.

Writing this doesn’t mean you will necessarily place it at the beginning of the piece, or that in the final draft you’ll have it all in a passage together (you may want to ‘drip-feed’ it into the text as you go).   But it’s still worth doing this groundwork to give yourself a sense of the norms and values of the person’s life, their security,  physical or other ‘home’. 



Anna Pavlovna had had a cough for some days. She was, as she said, suffering from la grippe; grippe being then a new word in St. Petersburg, used only by the elite.

All her invitations without exception, written in French, and delivered by a scarlet-liveried footman that morning, ran as follows:

“If you have nothing better to do, Count (or Prince), and if the prospect of spending an evening with a poor invalid is not too terrible, I shall be very charmed to see you tonight between 7 and 10—Annette Scherer



To begin at the beginning:
It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and- rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping . . .

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a worthwhile exercise to help visual writers know their characters' environment exactly. For me, actual images help, too, so I know where I am. It is essential to include in a ghost story, as close to the opening as is possible; the reader has to know what is 'normal' in the story's context, before reading about events that are abnormal

    Thank you for your helpful comment on my Magpie!