Category Archives: creative writing

The Night Grandpa Died

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Below is a short poem I wrote about a year back. It is a very personal one that I have ruled out of any future publications due to knowing it doesn’t have the ability to resonate with other people, plus it not quite being ‘good enough’ in my opinion, so thought I would share it with you all.

There is a true story behind this one, which is that one night I was in bed and woke up to a strange calm feeling and I could feel someone comforting me. I knew I wasn’t alone, but I wasn’t scared, in fact, quite the opposite. The feeling only lasted about a minute and the next day I had a phonecall to say that my Grandpa had died.

The Night Grandpa Died
The gentle stroking of my skin disrupts me from my sleep. An invisible being emanating love and happiness down onto me. And calmness. The reassuring patting of my leg and the strange feeling of goodbye. Weird how I can feel someone with me when there’s no one there, as I search for a face, or even just an outline. But my heavy eyes soon shut again, and the few seconds of comfort disappear.

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The Semicolon

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My favourite piece of punctuation is the semicolon. When it comes to proofreading, I notice that a lot of the time I am adding in semicolons to pieces of writing which otherwise would not use a single one. It makes me wonder if people actually know when to use the semicolon.

I think that it’s potentially my favourite piece of punctuation for the mere fact that I actually know how to use it, just like apostrophes are my least favourite, because they confuse the hell out of me! If you are great at using apostrophes, then I seriously applaud you.

For those of you who are confused about when the semicolon should make an appearance in your writing, I use it when it seems like it’s too short of a pause to use a full stop, but too long of a pause to use a comma. Another time to use it is when you’re writing a list of detailed items.

Milk, bread, cookies – this small list would use just commas.

creamy, white milk; seeded, cheesy, crusty bread; chocolate chip, salted caramel cookies – this list with detailed items uses semicolons because otherwise the large use of commas would make it confusing to look at and separate the items.

Which piece of punctuation is your favourite?

Ears open, eyes peeled.

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There are always story ideas around, you just have to be open to them. One really good way of finding a story is by taking a look at the people around you. Is there anyone who piques your interest? What are they wearing, doing, saying? What do they look like? Any features that stand out to you? Take notice of their body language. Then think about why they are where they are today, for example if they’re on a train where are they traveling from/to and why? (Obviously that part is purely your opinion.) You now have a character and maybe you even have a storyline too. They could be running away from home, or even an undercover MI5 agent.

Also make sure to listen to the conversations around you. You might hear something interesting. The last time I listened in to a conversation, it was between two old ladies and they were discussing how many bananas they’d bought and the amazing value of them. Obviously I didn’t manage a story out of that one!

I’ve never been too good at the people watching side of things, but my favourite way is observing any kind of commotion/altercation. Just the other night, my neighbour was having an argument outside with his girlfriend. I sat on the floor next to the door, listening through the letterbox. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to hear anything because my mum told me off for being ‘nosey.’ Yes, I guess I was being nosey, but it always feels better when there’s a reason for it. I was annoyed at her for the rest of the night for potentially preventing an amazing story idea.

Even if your mind feels blank now, just wait because your next idea may be just around the corner.

Stories to proofread

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Hey everyone,

I am looking to build my proofreading portfolio so am offering my services FOR FREE. If you have any stories you’ve written that you’d like me to look at, then comment on this post. I don’t do any major edits and only accept files in the form of Word Documents where I will do ‘track changes.’

By the age of 15, I was published in three anthologies and I’ve also studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa university for three years. I graduated just under a year ago.

Thank you!

Punctuation from hell

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I’d like to think I’m a pretty good writer, but there is one thing I can’t get my head around and that’s apostrophes… I understand the use of using them if two words are shortened to one, such as can’t and won’t, but I just can’t seem to get my head around the times when they are used to show possession.

One example I looked up that showed an apostrophe is ‘yesterday’s weather.’ So that means yesterday owns the weather? I just don’t get it!

If anyone understands, please leave a comment explaining it to me below. Thank you.

Be consistent

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Full stops are pretty easy to work out, but commas? How often should you use them?

And the issue is that no one seems to agree. I used to put a comma before every connective word, before finding out that you don’t usually need to put a comma before the word ‘because.’ I’d been doing it for years.

And to make matters worse, I studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa for three years and was pulled up on my use of commas by THREE different lecturers:
-Lecturer #1 said I use way too many commas.
-Lecturer #2 said that I don’t use enough commas and that I should put a comma before the word ‘and’ which I hardly ever do (and still don’t.)
-Lecturer #3 was over the moon with my use of commas and awarded me with a first due to my perfect use of them and all other punctuation.

Confusing, right?

I don’t think I/we will ever know the perfect amount of commas to use in our writing, because there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer. Even in books I read, I can see that some authors use lots, while others hardly use any at all.

So what happens if no matter what you do it’s never right?

I guess the only other option is to be consistent!

 

My writing routine

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While I’m so in awe of people who can sit and write at any time of the day, that is just not me. If it was me, I would definitely get my books written a lot quicker, but as long as the sun is up, my brain does not work.

Daytime writing is a no no for me. I CAN write, just like every other person can write whenever they want, but it isn’t good. I feel so uninspired, end up staring at a blank page for ridiculous amounts of time and what I do write usually ends up getting deleted once I look back at it, with a thought of ‘what the hell was I thinking?’

Only at night does the story side of my brain start working. There are many reasons this could be why, for example, maybe it’s the fact it’s a lot quieter at night, so there’s less distractions. (I don’t like background noise whilst I’m writing. I can deal with music or the TV on with the volume down low, but people talking and things like that really puts me off.) Another big reason it could be is my anxiety. I’ve suffered from anxiety for years and at night it really starts to play up. My mind overthinks a lot at night and I also struggle to sleep. I also feel like my body clock is the opposite of what is expected. I always feel sleepy in the daytime and alert at night. I honestly think my body would prefer me to stay up all night and sleep all day instead. Weirdly enough, I only read at night too.

So remember, if you’re feeling uninspired, maybe you’ve just not found the right routine for yourself yet. Try out writing at different parts of the day, in different locations, with music on/off, TV on/off etc. and you may find when you’re really best at writing.

To plan or not to plan

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Personally when it comes to writing, I am a planner.

When I first started writing I didn’t plan at all. I would have an idea, work out a beginning and ending, who the main character was and then just go for it. Although this works for some people, it really didn’t work for me. I realised that my story was going nowhere. I was just writing and writing and writing, but there was no structure, no conflict… it was just very lacking in what a story needs. I had no idea where it was going to go next and pretty soon into it, I realised I had no clue how I was going to reach the ending. It wasn’t even the same story anymore.

I haven’t made this mistake since and it is due to my planning. I don’t go overboard with my planning, but I still need some form of it there to keep my story structured and going in the right direction. Now once an idea comes to mind and I’m ready to write, I plan my story out from beginning to end as a list of bullet points. I have also found an amazing trick I now use, which is that I keep a grid of characters and every time I write something in my story about a character (for example someone has a Ford car, or they used to have a pet dog named Milo,) I make a note of it under that character’s name. It just helps me out in the long run to look back at what I know about each character. I add to this as I write the story, because for me character attributes become more apparent the further into the story you get.

So, to plan or not to plan, which is right for you?

Don’t compare yourself

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Since beginning university I have been looking at the work of other future writers in my course and comparing myself to their writing. Often it’s a – damn why didn’t I think of that? or, I wish I could write like that? But when you really think about… You shouldn’t ever compare yourself. Take a look at this poem for example:

As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed by Jack Prelutsky
As soon as Fred gets out of bed,
his underwear goes on his head.
His mother laughs, “Don’t put it there,
a head’s no place for underwear!”
But near his ears, above his brains,
is where Fred’s underwear remains.

At night when Fred goes back to bed,
he deftly plucks it off his head.
His mother switches off the light
and softly croons, “Good night! Good night!”
And then, for reasons no one knows,
Fred’s underwear goes on his toes.

This is a children’s poem that has a lot of humour in it! I wish that I could be funny, but writing humour doesn’t come naturally to me. What does come naturally to me though is emotion and who’s to say that Jack can grab your heart in the same way that I can? So yes, Jack has strong points that I don’t have in my writing, but instead of comparing myself I need to look at what I’m good at!

First drafts are allowed to be shit

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Take mine for example:

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I had an amazing idea for a short story in my head so I grabbed my pen and paper and began to write. Needless to say I have not done whatever was in my head justice at all – what I wrote is shit.
I started doing edits to it as you can see but it just wasn’t working out so I’ve ripped this page out and started again.
Your first draft is allowed to be shit. It is extremely uncommon to write a story and think ‘this is perfect.’ There’s always mistakes whether it just be spellings or a character that doesn’t work. For me I know that my first draft does nothing to grip the reader. But that’s okay because it’s not finished yet! My second draft will be much better and maybe it will take me ten rewrites to get it perfect but I will get there!