My Open University Creative Writing course started this weekend, with a Day School. I was looking forward to it, and I wasn’t disappointed. A really useful experience, both for meeting my tutor and others in my tutorial group, and for practising writing exercises. I even came out of it with the beginnings of a story which my tutor thought I should develop. Result!
The day took place at the grandly-named Stirling University Management Centre, which is only 20 minutes or so from my home. I’d been to Stirling Uni plenty of times: for other courses, to drop off driving pupils, and to the theatre that’s on campus. I hadn’t been to the Management Centre before, and we all commented that it was very posh. We seemed to be having more fun than a lot of people. It looked like there were lots of dry conferences taking place in other rooms, with bored delegates sitting in a circle doing team-building exercises. Urgh.
We had a general chat about what we all liked to write (and read), asked any questions about the course, and then got down to writing. I did more handwriting that day than I’ve probably done in a year. I could have used my tablet, but I decided that for short exercises I’d be just as quick using my notebook. We did some prompted freewriting, and then some exercises on creating characters. I found the latter very useful, as I hadn’t tried that kind of thing before. We then had to start building a story around our character. After a break for lunch (and chocolate, to feed my flagging brain), we continued the story and introduced some dialogue. Ahead-of-herself-as-usual me had used dialogue in her piece already. So I wrote more dialogue, developed another character, and now I have the makings of a story which I hope to continue with. As a teaser, it involves the following:
An elderly gentleman
A historic location
A young woman and her daughter (both with unusual ‘gifts’)
Are you intrigued? I am! Let’s see where it goes…
We were encouraged to read our pieces out loud so that our tutor and fellow students could comment. Shyness is not one of my qualities, so I got stuck in, as did most people, especially after a little encouragement. We were kind to each other and mentioned all the positives, leaving it to our tutor to be the villain and offer any criticism! She was lovely, however, and only had small points to make. We finished the day with another chance to ask questions, and then headed off to start putting what we’d learned into practice.
It was a great way to get fired up for the course, and I take my hat off to our tutor for making it interesting and enjoyable. The only problem I can foresee is that I’m going to have even more ideas for stories now, but no extra time to write them! (Yes, I know this is a good problem to have. I’m kidding). But wouldn’t it be great if things like Time-Turners, from Harry Potter, actually existed? I could write for a few hours on one project, then go back and write for the same few hours on a different one. I know I’d end up going crazy, from exhaustion and brain overload, but still… Hubby has just stated that no-one would notice the difference. Thanks, darling. *makes mental note to base a character on hubby, then kill said character off in a gruesome way* 😉
More from the Creative Writing classroom soon! Now, since All Hallows Eve approaches, time to write about witches! I’ll be guesting on my friend Mari Wells‘ blog soon, talking about Scotland’s rich history of witchcraft. Mari knows all about vampires, werewolves, and witches and I’m very flattered to be featuring on her blog. More news on that in due course…