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Nigel Gordon

Creative Writing Course - Discussion Group

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This topic has been set up for those of use taking part in the Open University MOOC on Creative Writing can have somewhere off course to discuss issues that have come up in the course. Hope it works for us.

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Well was glad to find that one issue that had been mentioned has been tackled at the very start of the course. Yes you can post explicit material in you exercises the only proviso is that you have to put a marker in your title line saying that the material has explicit content.

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Can those of us not enrolled in the class participate in the discussion, or will this be a closed panel?

From my point of view everybody is free to join it though I suspect a lot of which will be raised will be about the technicalities of the course. However I support Camy, take the course you can still sign up.

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i filled out the survey questionnaire they offer you when you start the course - and found it wasn't well matched to the course - I think the survey is not specifically about the fiction writing course, but about Futurelearn's courses in general. Or maybe about OU's courses in general. Not an auspicious start, though.

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Did anyone get to the part yet where we're to write characater sketch? I have some comments to make on that.

C

I've got to it but I'm not certain what you are supposed to do with it.

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I believe you're supposed to have learned something about creating characters and describing them through use of sketches from the prior instructions, and you're supposed to take heed of those and write one yourself. Create a character and flesh him out so readers will know who he is. Anyway, that was my take on it.

C

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Dear all,

officially I'm up to 1.5 - 'Write a paragraph (50 to 100 words) containing one fact and three fictitious elements.' I posted it, and was rather put off by the pedestrian waffle of others - which makes me either a god among mortals (an arrogant twat), or more likely an idiot who missed the point. We're supposed to critique the efforts of others but, having seen there are nearly 2,500 of them, I'm disinclined. Does this make me a bad man?

Today I carried a notebook and took notes. :alien[1]:

I have a feeling the course might be intended for those who haven't written fiction before, which probably means there'll soon be a plethora of appalling free fiction on Amazon.

I'm turning into a bitch, so I'll stop. G'night.

Moi.

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Keep a notebook!

Open all your senses, and take notice of things around you in everyday life. Concentrate not only on what you see but also on sounds, smells and touch.

This should become a habit – a way of seeing the world. Always reflect on the notes you have taken in your journal.

Did you note things you heard – the way people speak or a squeaking or breathy voice?

Did you note any smells – like a distinctive perfume, or the smell of fried fish on someone’s clothes?

When reflecting on your notes, highlight any details you find especially interesting and to which you might want to return, to work on in more detail later.

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I didn't do the notebook bit. When I'm up and around, betting ideas from my surroundings, I have nothing to write on. When I'm at my computer, I note story idea in a Word file. I have lists and lists of ideas. So I'm cheating and not making a notebook. I do record ideas. But no stinkin' notebook for me.

I too looked at all the other submissions of factual/fictional paragraphs and decided my time wouldn't be efficiently spent reading them all. The purpose of that exercise was to see what it felt like to write both factual and fictional elements in one paragraph. I did that, both ways. And submitted them. But the reviewing what others wrote seemed a bit unnecessary and I skipped that.

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I believe you're supposed to have learned something about creating characters and describing them through use of sketches from the prior instructions, and you're supposed to take heed of those and write one yourself. Create a character and flesh him out so readers will know who he is. Anyway, that was my take on it.

C

Cole,

I completed that section, adding it as a comment. Here's what I wrote, from the video based on the two people in the bookstore, 195 words (we were asked to have a maximum of 200 words); the part in green is from section 1.15 where I was asked to "Add any elements – for instance, details of appearance or behaviour – which you think might bring the character to life for your reader"

==================================================

He sat at a table in the bookstore, totally absorbed by the book he held open with both hands. He had his hair cut so it looked spiky, longer than a crew cut but not so long that it wouldn’t stand straight up from his head. She thought, “He’s cute, probably Japanese, or maybe Korean. Certainly not Chinese.” She’d followed her mother’s wishes and dated only Chinese boys through high school, and now they bored her.

She took out her cellphone and took his picture; actually, several pictures. He looked up, so she scrolled his images off the screen.

“That’s stupid,” she realized. “He’s sitting over there and there’s no way he could see what’s on my screen.”

She glanced his way once again, and this time saw him staring at her. He smiled. “Oh my god,” she thought, “he’s smiling at me!” That made her smile in return.

He moved his right hand away from his book, and waved.

One of her grandmother’s favorite sayings came to her unbidden: ‘In for a penny, in for a pound.’

Okay,” she thought, “let’s do this.”

She walked to his table and sat down. “Hi,” she said.

==================================================

Colin :icon_geek

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This topic has been set up for those of use taking part in the Open University MOOC on Creative Writing can have somewhere off course to discuss issues that have come up in the course. Hope it works for us.

Thanks, Nigel.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Here is what I did for my first weeks exercises:

One Truth, Three Fictions.

The two nuns rode down the cycle path side by side balancing between their bikes a bath that sat precariously across the two luggage rakes. Niether Sister Angelic nor Sister Anna appeared put out by the load they were carrying as they chatted about the new Pope. “You say Sister Maria knows him Sister?”

Sister Angelic turned slightly towards the source of the question. “Yes, Sister, it seems she comes from the same small village in Poland where the Holy Father was born. From what she said they virtually grew up together.”

“I thought Sister that the Holy Father was younger than that,” Sister Anna commented, “Is it right that he was a Young Communist?”

“Of course Sister any youth in the communist block had to be a Young Communist, it was a legal requirement.”

“Ah, then it is good his faith was strong enough to make him a good Bishop.”

One Fiction Three Truths

The small Chinese man stood on the stage, towards stage left rear, holding a small round plate in front of him. He looked across the diagonal of the stage where his assistant raised the gun and pointed it towards him. As on so many nights the assistant took careful aim at the centre of the plate. He had done this hundreds of time before but tonight when he pulled the trigger the kick from the musket seemed stronger than normal and black smoke completely hid his view of the Chinese magician.

There was a gasp from the audience. As the smoke cleared the assistant could see the magician lying there on the stage of the Wood Green Empire, blood seeping across his silk robes and frothing out of his mouth.

Character

Miss Grey checked her watch and then shook her head with a resigned sign of disappointment. It had been fifteen minutes since she had given the waitress her order and if it did not come soon she would not be able to enjoy her pensioner’s lunch before she had to leave for her appointment. She hated having to rush meals, anyway false teeth, even very good false teeth, made eating quickly difficult. The fingers of her liver spotted hand played a light tattoo of annoyance on the table top. She made a mental note to have a word with Maureen the manager next time she was in, unfortunately today was her day off.

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Cole,

I completed that section, adding it as a comment. Here's what I wrote, from the video based on the two people in the bookstore, 195 words (we were asked to have a maximum of 200 words); the part in green is from section 1.15 where I was asked to "Add any elements – for instance, details of appearance or behaviour – which you think might bring the character to life for your reader"

==================================================

He sat at a table in the bookstore, totally absorbed by the book he held open with both hands. He had his hair cut so it looked spiky, longer than a crew cut but not so long that it wouldn’t stand straight up from his head. She thought, “He’s cute, probably Japanese, or maybe Korean. Certainly not Chinese.” She’d followed her mother’s wishes and dated only Chinese boys through high school, and now they bored her.

She took out her cellphone and took his picture; actually, several pictures. He looked up, so she scrolled his images off the screen.

“That’s stupid,” she realized. “He’s sitting over there and there’s no way he could see what’s on my screen.”

She glanced his way once again, and this time saw him staring at her. He smiled. “Oh my god,” she thought, “he’s smiling at me!” That made her smile in return.

He moved his right hand away from his book, and waved.

One of her grandmother’s favorite sayings came to her unbidden: ‘In for a penny, in for a pound.’

Okay,” she thought, “let’s do this.”

She walked to his table and sat down. “Hi,” she said.

==================================================

Colin :icon_geek

Colin I got a sufficient impression of the character to make me interested but not so much detail that I could not build my own image of the character.

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I've only got to the bit about writing fact and fiction, and I wrote two very prosaic paragraphs. Most people seem to have written snippets of story, and some of them are very highflown so I'm feeling a bit stupid.

It's not easy to tell what is fact and what is fiction in other people's writing unless they make it obvious by writing about dragons etc. I think facts are sometimes flagged with specifics like dates, but when I'm writing fiction I often put in a few quantifiers to lend the story verisimilitude. Maybe I'm a born liar?

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I would like to 'follow' my fellow ADers in the course but I haven't yet found the posts of any of you and I can't find a way to search for a user name - not that I know what user names you're all using in the course...

I'm enrolled as Bruin Fisher and my post in 1.5 was 34 minutes ago in case that helps.

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I would like to 'follow' my fellow ADers in the course but I haven't yet found the posts of any of you and I can't find a way to search for a user name - not that I know what user names you're all using in the course...

I'm enrolled as Bruin Fisher and my post in 1.5 was 34 minutes ago in case that helps.

Bruin, that is a problem with the platform they are using at the moment, it is almost impossible to find somebodies submission or even your own so you can look for comments. It is a problem I have had on other MOOCs I have done. Did raise this with FutureLearn a few weeks ago and they said they were working on a solution but it would be a few months before it was implemented. I gather the FutureLearn IT team at the British Library is quite small.

Once you have found one of your fellow ADers if you select to Follow them you can then see their postings quite easily by going to your profile and selecting them from the list of those who you follow.

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OK, I'll post my two fact/fiction paragraphs and character sketch, too:

Paragraph One with one fact and three fictitious elements:

Her first venture outside her house in a month didn’t go as well as planned. It was meant to be a simple trip to her neighborhood Target store, a large, medium-priced and usually crowded modern emporium. She was nervous, getting ready, and donned an unsuitable orange skirt, matching matched it with a burgundy top. Her cab came early, rushing her, and leaving the house she forgot her purse. When she arrived at the store, she found she had no money and an irate cab driver to face.

Paragraph Two with one fictitious element and three facts.

Oak trees are deciduous with broad green leaves. Pine trees are conifers with spiky blue-green needles. But what was this, this thing, growing tall and broad before him? It looked like a tree, but he’d never seen a tree with bright-blue, blunt needles and mauve, cuneiform leaves both growing side by side on slender branches. He turned to his guide, a lad of 12 who was familiar with the flora in this woods to ask what this was, but the boy had wandered off to collect pinecones.

Character sketch in 200 words:

Her brown eyes shone with intelligence. Her intelligence was the first thing—the major thing—one noticed about her. It was there in her eyes and in the way she behaved. She noticed things and was rarely still. She was always touching objects around her as though a tactile familiarity would make them more real. Often, she’d pick something up and smell it, then study it closely, inquisitively. When her long, brunette hair fell in front of her face, she’d abruptly brush it back, annoyed by the distraction.

It was apparent in the way she acted when meeting someone new. She was a great listener, and because her eyes communicated her interest in them so completely, they tended to warm to her instinctively and immediately.

She was not a lovely woman. She was short, a bit dumpy, and very plain, but people didn’t notice any of that after only a few minutes with her. How she dressed, how she managed her makeup or fixed her hair—it all became trivial when one spoke to her. Her intelligence was the face she presented to the world, and it was as beguiling as a movie star’s beauty. People were drawn to her by her mind.

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Paragraph with one fact and three fictions:

"Grass was once green? Your grandfather is a mad as you are, Blether," Haksten said. "I don't know why you bother. Not one of us believes you. Grass is orange because moonlight is filtered through the unobtanium layer. And please don't start on with your 'air was once free', and 'the earth isn't flat' malarkey, either. Pshaw."

Character sketch:

Sitting in a parked car I see him hobbling down the road; one hand holding several bulging shopping bags and a walking stick, the other, the hand of a little blonde girl in a onesie licking a ice-lolly. He is either overweight or lacking sartorial sense as his tightly stretched tracksuit - bulging in all the wrong places - makes other pedestrians stop and stare. Neither of them seem to care. As they turn the corner at the bottom of the street his thin grey hair wafts in the cross wind, and the little girl starts to skip.

My actual notes read:

1) Fat man in jogging suit, walking stick, and several bags of shopping. Hobbling. Thin Hair.

2) Fat chap with gray No.1 (very short hair cut) holds 99 Flake (ice cream) for little girl with pigtails who beams at him, then gets in car (silver Vauxhall).

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