Greysnet Creative Writing Course: Chapter 6

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Well, here it is. The final chapter in our hugely popular Creative Writing Course. Endings are always difficult and parting is such sweet sorry. In this final edition our Creative Writing friend and mentor Karen Quinn takes us through the process of editing – how to prepare your prose for publication. From cheeking your speling to knowing what to leave in and what to take out, editing is the last and sometimes the most challenging part of the writing process.

Before the class begins I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Karen for delivering this terrific course which has inspired so many to pick up their pens and have a go at creative writing. It’s been a terrific journey.

If you are just joining us, never fear you can find the entire Creative Writing series here.

And so, for the last time, find a quiet spot, have our writing materials ready and let’s begin.

Hello to all my writers!

Just so you know, I will be spending the weekend looking over and providing feedback on work (looking at you @BillTurner) . I’ll make sure to look through all the workshops so I haven’t missed anything! If you’d like to even ask me a question, please don’t be afraid to post!

Keep scribbling,

:+1: I trust Kerry passed the last homework on that didn’t paste across properly.

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Hi Karen. Before I go back to edit my homework I would just like to say thank you for your Creative Writing Workshops. Hopefully I have learnt, (or should that be learned?) several ways to improve my writing skills. I have enjoyed these last six weeks in lockdown. Well no that’s not exactly true, but you know what I mean. I’ve written over 50 poems now. Here is my last one which I suppose could be considered ‘topical’ and I did have friends and family proof read it before posting on fb.

Had enough /Isolation Blues

Going out of my mind with this daily grind,
The regular routine, Groundhog day, every day.
Should I be in an institution or part of this apparent unfolding revolution?
Division reigns on all sorts of media,
Social, television, radio bombard you with demands on how you should or shouldn’t behave,
You are wrong; obviously I’m right,
Conflict, mob rule, getting into a fight.
I’ve had it up to here with people’s opinions,
I couldn’t give a damn about race or religion,
Its getting so absurd, people challenge every word,
If you do or don’t your a racist, leftist/right wing thug,
I think we are the ones being taken for a mug,
The words of a song come into my head,
It comes from a Muslim it has to be said,
And people would ride from far and wide just to seek the word he spread,
I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned,
And Love is all… he said.

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I suspect the indents may be causing the problem in pasting so fingers crossed this works.

Greysnet 6

10 minute story

Use your loaf.

It was a warm June morning as Willie trudged up the hill towards the bakers. The Great War, as it had become known had ended two years previously. The world had emerged from The Spanish Flu pandemic which had taken many more lives than that terrible conflict.

Willie stood on the threshold of the bakery.
‘Good morning Mrs. Brown and how are you today?’
She smiled and nodded appreciatively at Willie and retired into the rear of the shop. She returned shortly with a warm loaf of granary bread, freshly cooked that day. The smell was heaven to the nostrils of this young lad.
‘Here you are Willie,’ she smiled and handed him the bread after wrapping it in greaseproof paper. Willie thanked her and handed over tuppence in payment.
‘Don’t forget to bring the greaseproof paper back,’ she shouted after him as he left the shop.

Heading back home down the hill and not far from the bakers on the corner sat a legless veteran of The Great War, medals on the chest of his mufti type dress. Crutches lying on the ground beside him.

Willie tried to avoid his stare and the haggard demeanour of this veteran now reduced to begging on the streets.
‘That smells nice young man… can you spare some for a poor crippled soldier?’
Willie looked on him with pity and despair.
‘I, erm… my mum wouldn’t be too happy, so I’m sorry sir.’

Mrs. Brown looked at Willie as he came back into the shop.
‘My goodness… you’re back very soon.’

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Hi @BillTurner,

Thanks for your messages! Kerry has sent them on so I’ll get back to you today with feedback. Well done on all your work! Goodness me - fifty poems! What I would say, after having a look at your poem, is to carefully think of each line break. I was told recently by a very talented poet-friend of mine to think of each line break as a story: so would you consider each of your lines a complete idea? For example, “should or shouldn’t behave” doesn’t really capture a complete situation or story there. So maybe that should be ties to a previous line, or the next one. It’s something to think about!

Hi @BillTurner,

Me again! Just having a read at your short story.

You did a wonderful job creating the world of this story. It’s very atmospheric. Also, by just capturing a moment makes the story feel very self-contained, which is perfect for a piece of flash fiction. The detail of returning the greaseproof paper to the bakery is just lovely. Perhaps add more finer details like that, because the more you do, the more your reader will be sucked into the world you have created.

I do think it would be nice to see a little more of Willie’s internal conflict when he’s speaking to the old war veteran. At the moment, it jumps a bit suddenly to “you’re back very soon.” Again, I understand that he’s given the bread to the veteran, but we need something, perhaps one more sentence, to just connect these two moments.

Also, try and reduce your adverbs, instead let the context and the dialogue carry how characters would behave in each situation. For example, “she nodded appreciatively” could just be edited to “she nodded”. Think about the lovely prose that could come before, or indeed after, this action that reveals her gratitude; shouldn’t her actions be louder than your words? I do believe that Stephen King said this: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”. I think what he’s suggesting is that they’re redundant words, words that could be replaced with more meaningful and heartfelt ones, just like your fantastic sentence, “the smell was heaven to the nostrils of this young lad.” Wow - it’s gorgeous!

Hope this is helpful Bill. Thank you for being such a brilliant participant! Keep writing and I look forward to seeing your work on the bookshelves one day!

Best wishes and scribbles,

Thank you Karen once again for your excellent feed back. The reason for the lack of dialogue between Willie and the veteran was that it was a 10 minute exercise and I was running out of time. I let a friend read it and she said it reminded her of that Hovis advert ont’ telly, aye up lad lol Who knows where I got my inspiration from? I shall remember the Stephen King quote. Decorum N.I. is the charity that I wrote the pandemic poetry for and they are contemplating publishing a book of mine and other’s prose etc. so I may well be a published writer in the near future. Who knows? :thinking: I have thoroughly enjoyed your course Karen and thank you for the instruction and inspiration you have provided. Onwards and upwards. :+1:. Kindest regards. Bill

Here is my last poem which has already netted £33 million apparently…

To be, or not to be…

My agent tells me I’m an actor,
(Perhaps, but I wouldn’t go that far),
Tho’ 'tis something I aspire to,
With airy dreams of one day (perhaps, who knows? ) being a star,
Starting off in musical theatre,
(Seems so long ago),
Some qualifications under my belt too!
And some remuneration for things done on TV and the silver screen,
'Tis true I’ve tread the red carpet,
With gorgeous ladies arm in arm,
For a film in which I was never seen or even
able to portray my charm,
The Director’s Cut!
Curses! he may as well have taken my right arm!
I’ve played a thug on film,
(It was in a religious theme),
From The Fall to A Midsummer Night,
Its all been such a dream,
I’ve tread the boards in theatre,
In Panto I appear to have found a niche,
And enjoyed every last minute,
If I get the chance I’d do it all again,
Playing the lead in a Sam Cree comedy,
Or even portraying Alfred Hitchcock,
(Now that was some wee gig),
But alas the industry is floundering,
Its this pandemic ill you see,
So we need financial support from government,
If we are to continue to entertain both you and me,
All I ask is that you sign a petition,
There’s plenty doing the rounds,
We don’t want to see our Arts alas, alack…run into the ground.
So please search social media for petitions near and far,
Support your local theatre and the industry as a whole,
We promise to keep on entertaining you,
All I ask is that you sign that bit of paper,
And with your help we will achieve our goal.