Thursday 13 June 2013

Writing a Short Story in 5 Steps

Activities for the 11 June 2013 - Writing a Short Story - results will follow below, as they come in

Warm-up exercise – word associations
First write 3 nouns, 3 verbs, 3 adjectives and 3 adverbs. Now write 3 word associations for each one. Write the first word that comes into your head, without thinking about it.

Write a short story using the following 5 steps:
i) Start your story by describing the context with some background information.
ii) Introduce 2 characters and include some dialogue and start to build the plot.
iii) Add more characters and develop the plot.
iv) Bring your story to a climax.
v) Bring your story to a conclusion.

By Anonymous

His childhood was sheltered under the black umbrellas of older women. There was a certain comfort and familiarity with these relationships, their judgement could always be counted on. Father provided a break from the structure and he welcomed the days at building sites and football games, these things stayed with him through the years and were often at the center of thought as the years of reflection came into view- a kind of mourning for one's youth.

He was 12, large, and designed for football, staring out to the buzzing noise of the stadium, drowning his pre-game stomach churn. He was late, and the team had started calisthenics. He greeted the fellow linemen, with the camaraderie that only war and sports spawn and started mid jumping jack.

"There's a f'n spade sitting on your helmet, you better check that shit out," Stan announced to him - and the rest of the offensive line, doing groin stretches. He glanced over and his heart sank. Thinking practically, the boy jogged over nervously, "Heeey, I need the helmet now". "Good luck," his dad beamed out. "Cheers, we'll need a bit of that", a hurried reply.
"Who the hell was that?" moaned Coach Stram. "Got my helmet-I'm ready!" he grinned, a clumsy 11 year old attempt at a clumsy segway, a skill he learned to master in later years.

The ride home was long and there were no disagreements as they drove along encased safely in the car, a road split by the center line. Practiced vowels, consonants and syllables roll predictably with the hum of tires. Each topic measured as the roadside poles, the conversation's selected tone mirrors the ca-thump ca-thump ca-thump of the paved highway joints.We think of things that must be said - instead, the words shift, twist, and turning our mouths like worms, then sit angrily, before we brood them out of separate windows in silence and continue down the road to somewhere, the receding light of the sun searching through glass then fading in the rear window, frame by frame until the light is gone.

The Transformation of Hope Farm - by Fiona Pimentel

Hope Farm was an old farm that had become a riding school. There were twelve stables, and eight of them were currently inhabited.
Every afternoon, Isabel taught riding to kids after their regular school day. In the mornings she fed the horses, groomed them and mucked out the stables. She had some help from the school kids with this, but mostly the work fell on her.
Isabel woke up on Tuesday morning and breathed a huge sigh.
“What’s wrong?” asked her husband, David, while shaving in the ensuite bathroom.
“I’m just sick of cleaning up shit every day,” she answered.
Her husband rolled his eyes and went to put on the coffee.
“Why don’t you get some help?” was what he was finally able to offer when Isabel came through to the kitchen.
“The kids help a bit in the afternoon, only with the grooming though.”
“I’ll have a think about how to get you some help,”
A week later, an advert for Hope Farm appeared in the local paper. It didn’t advertise riding lessons, as you would have expected. Instead it invited people to a new kind of spiritual experience, where they would learn to appreciate what they have in life, and develop a sense of community service.
“I can’t believe you’ve passed off shoveling shit as a spiritual experience,” exclaimed Isabel.
But the phone-calls came in. People were actually making bookings for “day retreats.”
“We’ll need to have an inspiring speaker of course,” commented David, “and I have just the right person.”
“Who’s that?”
“Me, of course.”
Isabel laughed at how ridiculous the whole situation was.
“Actually it’s brilliant,” declared her husband.
The following Saturday, five people came to the farm, wanting spiritual enlightenment.
Isabel almost screamed, as she saw the cars arriving.
“It will be alright, don’t worry,” said David calmly.
He walked out to greet the guests, introduced himself and his wife, and acted as if this were the most normal thing in the world.
David was amazing. He gave a welcome speech to Karen, Mike, Alison, Margaret and Steve. He asked them all to say why they were there.
Karen and Mike were searching for deeper meaning in life, Alison was unemployed and depressed, Margaret was just bored, and Steve had split up with his boyfriend.
David gave them a passage to read which was from the Dalai Lama’s latest book. Then they had twenty minutes of silent meditation.
Isabel watched the whole thing in disbelief. When had David had time to prepare all this? How would they react to the work they would have to do?
She needn’t have worried, thought Isabel. David told them how in clearing up the horse dung, they were purifying their souls, and putting order into their lives. “What bullshit,” muttered Isabel to herself quietly.
The retreatants went into the stables, and spent a happy two hours shoveling. They were relaxed and smiling.
The stables looked perfect. The group members, who had arrived well-presented, were now slightly less tidy in their appearance, but they were “clean on the inside,” as David called it.
Back inside, they all cleaned themselves up, and seemed reluctant to leave. Isabel offered them tea or coffee and biscuits.
Then came the best bit. They actually paid for the privilege of cleaning the stables: $75 per person. They were genuinely pleased they had come, and would recommend Hope Farm to their friends!
Isabel thought about the expression ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous,’ and mused to herself that this morning the case had been the opposite: ‘from the ridiculous to the sublime’. 

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