Week 1: Assignment - Pick a well-known story; write down the premise; retell the story, making something different of it (eg telling it from a different point of view, developing setting or character); write a reflective paragraph on what you have done; make any changes you want; add a sentence to your reflective paragraph on what you did.
Week 2: Using the prompt 'When I/he/she picked it up, everything changed', write a story containing elements of fantasy or magical realism. Think about Coleridge's phrase 'willing suspension of disbelief'. How have you set the boundaries of what can or must be disbelieved?
Week 3: Write a story for children concentrating on establishing and sustaining voice. Be sure to go to Brian's lecture on Tuesday 17th July at 7:15 pm - it's all about this! Your story can be for any age group: anything from picture book (I don't want you to do pictures) to young adult. You must be able to tell me the age group you are writing for, and the story, diction, syntax, pacing, characters and themes must be age-appropriate. Here are some interesting examples of voice:
"It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shear's house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog."Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
I am sorry to tell you that this story begins with the Baudelaire orphans traveling along this most displeasing road, and that from this moment on, the story only gets worse".
"Jess is spinning a coin. Not actually playing Jack's game yet, because if you're going to play, you have to be very sure. Heads or tails, win or lose, life or death: playing the fame changes things and you can't escape its rules."
Use one of the following prompts, if you wish:
A boy finds something unusual on the doorstep.
A woman the protagonist knows turns out to be something unexpected.
An animal is lost.
A child breaks a window or a mirror.
Week 4: Go to the museum of archaeology and anthropology and choose an object. Email me a photo of the object. Write a crime story featuring the object you have chosen. You need to focus on plotting this week. If your story is too long for you to write all of it, write a decent synopsis and a portion of it that features your object.
Week 5: Write either a horror story or a humorous story. It can be for any age group (child or adult). And you can combine and write comic horror if you so wish.
Week 6: Write a piece of historical fiction. It can be set in any period of history and anywhere on Earth. Remember to do the research!
Week 7: Sit in a cafe for a couple of hours and watch people. Pick two people to be characters in your story. Write a fairly short story, up to 1500 words, and focus on a strong opening. If you want a further prompt, it is this: a woman and child/baby are in a car; a man gets into the car with a gun.
Here are some strong openings to think about:
Where's Papa going with that axe?
(E.B.White, Charlotte's Web)
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
(L.P.Hartley, The Go-Between)
He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
(Virginia Woolf, Orlando)
Never start with the weather - but:
It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
(George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four)
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
(J.D.Salinger, Catcher in the Rye)
Call me Ishmael.
(Herman Melville, Moby Dick)
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
(Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis)
Marley was dead, to begin with.
(Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
(Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenin)
They're out there.
(Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. (Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
This list will grow.... Here are some articles, books and blogs that might help you with your writing.
Basic writing: from pre-writing to editing - blog post by that runs through all the basic advice. Some useful reminders and definitions.
Working with illustrators - blog post by picture-book author Malachy Doyle on how much (=little) input writers should have into the illustrations for their work.
Help! I need a publisher - Nichola Morgan's blog about writing and preparing your writing for publication. Aimed primarily at unpublished authors. The best advice from this blog is collected in a book (also available as an ebook), Write to be published.
Dear Agent - Nichola Morgan's ebook on approaching an agent - from 10th August 2012 for three days this will be only 75p, so a good investment. This the companion book to How to Write a Great Synopsis, which is also useful if you've got that far.
Ann Lamott Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life - honest guide to how to write.
Ten rules for writers, as voiced by several different writers of fiction. Sarah Waters' rules are particularly useful. It's in two parts; here's the other.
How to write - excellent, short advice from novelist Meg Rosoff.
What makes a great story - a series of articles by literary agent Sarah Davies. This the first of the series.
Seven writing tips from F Scott Fitzgerald - what it says
Seven writing tips from Ernest Hemingway - bet you can guess...
[weekly assignments are above this resource list]