Category Archives: writing class


I went to a creative writing course recently, held in Denman College. Denman is in the village of Marcham in Oxfordshire and belongs to the Women’s Institute. Being the WI, of course there are lots of cooking, craft and flower arranging courses. But they also run a lot of “lifestyle” courses, and writing is part of that category. The course I went there for was “characters come first”, run by Chrissie Hall.

I’ve taken a course run by Chrissie before and she is wonderful! She’s an enthusiastic, helpful and supportive cheerleader for would-be writers. I took my fledgling idea for “Something Rich and Strange” and came away with a plot outline, a cast of characters and a definite idea of what I want to do. It is not the same story as the one I originally thought of, when I was going to “do” Nanowrimo a while back. (The one for which I made the banner below.) But it’s a far better story and I am raring to get on with it!

So far I have worked out the whole thing, to 12 and a half A4 pages. I’m now working on creating the characters and more closely plotting the chapters. The photo above is one from my collection, of a family taken in WWI. They are my inspiration, along with Chrissie’s invaluable support. This time I may just make it to the end. Wish me luck!

P.S. Oh yes, Cantre’r Gwaelod is included in the story.

On being told to write a poem

I have no idea why I feel so angry at the idea of having to write a poem. So I am not surprised that the tutor and the rest of the class were taken aback at how passionate I was about not writing poetry. I can’t understand it myself, but it does make me feel very angry. I love reading poetry, but I am not a poet and I know. It’s fashionable to tell people to “think outside the box” (horrible phrase) and that’s all very well. But I am all for people also knowing and understanding their limitations. Poetry is my limitation.

I am also angry about a creative writing tutor telling his or her students to write a poem. Just like that! With no discussion of what a poem is, what makes a poem and the forms of poetry. There are rules for poetry. Oh yes, there are rules for short story and novel writing too, but poetry is different. We all know what a story is and it’s basic form. We learn that as children, listening to bedtime stories and being read to at school. But poetry has special rules about rhythm, rhyme and language. If someone feels that poetry is their kind of thing, then good for them. But it is not mine. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading poetry, but not writing it.

Homework and Zombies!

I had to write a short story based on a piece of freewriting, for the creativity class tomorrow. But I hate, loathe and detest freewriting. To begin with, I can’t handwrite quickly for more than a few minutes at a time. And certainly not long enough to write anything that could be used later. So I cheated, and didn’t do the freewrite!

I suppose what I did was freewrite in my head. I find that if my hands are busy with the washing up, then my mind is free to wander about all over the place. I often come up with characters, plots etc. while I’m scrubbing the pots. And this time, I came up with a zombie story. The freewrite prompt was “After the door shut” and it just all came tumbling out!

The story is called “The Ones You Leave Behind” and I decided to give myself the target limit of 1,500 words. Any more and it would not work, any less and ditto. 1,500 was just enough. I wrote some of it last night and then finished it just now. And I’m quite pleased with it. I wonder how they’ll take it in class tomorrow. I’ve already got a bit of a reputation for being the one who likes to take the morbid and creepy side.

Only two more weeks left of class after tomorrow. I’ll miss them.