Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Chapter five and a complete review of the character and the book

Chapter five has thrown up the basic problem with my writing. I wanted this book to be a literary work, with an intense, interesting character at the heart. That has somehow transmuted into a book about relationships and romance even. It's become all story and the characters have drifted into stereotypes. My main character was supposed to be so different, so damaged by the death of her identical twin, that she somehow functions as both twins. Always wounded by the loss of half of her compound self, she's supposed to start to allow other people to fill a small part of that empty space, while allowing herself to fill in the gaps. Somehow it's become a story where the character has down shifted to a lonely spinster looking for love. This is not me. I seem to have accidentally channeled someone else. Possibly Barbara Cartland.

I realise that each of my three main characters - all women, all drawn to this place for one reason or another - are aspects of me. I suppose all fictional characters are, or internalised versions of our loved ones. There's a big part of me that never feels like it's fitting in, knows what to do, and that part is Emma. There's another part of me that is generous, gives, loving, funny etc. (all that stuff) and that is Lily. Olivia is my other alter ego, maternal, looking back with an older perspective, moving past motherhood, a crone. I realise as I plough through the editing process, how much of myself is revealed through all my writing. Not a comfortable place to be.

I've also been playing with a short story about an old person wrestling with forgetfulness and infirmity but trying not to let on how bad things are. My mother-in-law is 81 and in this position, and everything she does to pretend she can cope is backfiring on her. In fact, she can't cope and needs help. If she had more help, she could stay in her own home. Problem is, she thinks if she says she needs help, they will scoop her up and put her in a residential prison. It may come to that, but I'd like to squeak a bit longer for her autonomy. I don't really get on with her, but I recognise a certain bloody minded independent gene that I have myself. I'm going to be just as awkward, I suspect. Hopefully, I will have lots more support.   

Monday, 28 June 2010

Chapter three and depression

Editing chapter three has thrown up a number of interesting problems. First problem is point of view: POV. The chapters all start with the POV of the main character, Emma, but then segue into the second character, Lily. I suppose I could write Emma's first person thoughts then go to Lily's more grounded third person limited omniscience viewpoint (can you tell I did A215!). I always think my first person accounts are self conscious though, rather less free that the third person ones.

Using Holly Lisle's method makes sense, but it isn't easy, and it's a lot of work. I can't see any other way of doing it t though, and for all the moaning and faffing about with forms and coloured pens I am actually staying more objective than I would be if I rewrote it. Chapter four today - and then I can get on with planning a short story I've had wandering around in my head.

One of my daughters raised an interesting question that I'm exploring in the novel: 'Do you ever question your choice of partner?' i.e. her Dad. My immediate reaction was 'Every day.' I think we choose to be with each other every day, I don't think we should just think it's a done deal and no matter what happens we have to stay together. I've been single for a long period in my life and I rather liked it - I don't think I need to be in relationship, I choose to be in one because of all that emotional attachment we seemed to have formed. Over time, new stands of that connection have been woven in. Memories, shared difficulties, children's relationships, pets, the house, everything. My characters relationship is unravelling strand by strand. Interestingly, when the same question was put to my partner he said the same thing, sure, he thinks about it. I was a bit surprised (not that he does, I can be really difficult to live with, creative type and all that...) but that he was able to talk about it. Maybe he wanted her to know that was a) allowed and b) useful.

Which made me think about depression. Lots of members of my family wrestle periodically with depression, including me, and unlike the more fortunate ones, I haven't found a medication that remotely works. My sister didn't either, which, compounded with her bipolar disorder, led to her death. I spend some of the un-depressed months and years worrying about the depression creeping back. By the time I know I've got it it's usually too late to claw back from the edge. The last one lasted three years and was hell. There were days when I was paralysed by it, as if I were in unbearable pain and any movement made it worse. TV became my drug, which just sucks any creativity straight out the front of my skull. What little imagination I have left goes on thinking about what could go wrong, making me too anxious to enjoy going out or doing anything. It occurred to me that my main character has lived with the consequences of untreated depression for so long that, even if the depression has long gone, the life style has remained. Don't chance anything, don't get stressed, stay in, don't think too much about anything.

My last depression was broken when I started to write again, and hasn't come back (three years and counting). I'm hoping the move to Winchester won't pile on too much stress and precipitate another one. Even excitement is stressful. Maybe the writing is helpful in itself. Anyway, back to editing.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Editing the novel

I wrote two first drafts of novels this spring, and I have absolutely no idea how to edit them. Normally, I just move bits around until all sense is lost, and give up on it. 'Silent Obsession' was the first one I actually second drafted but it all got lost along the way somehow, probably because I'd read the bloody thing 200 times and had lost all interest. I have looked at books but, frankly, I need someone to spoon feed me some instructions. Then I found Holly Lisle's site. I've been getting free ideas from her for a couple of years (she's very generous with her materials) and I got an email asking if I would like to buy a course on editing a novel. In desperation, because courses off the Internet aren't always that helpful, I sent off for part one.

I'm very, very glad I did. So I've printed off my worksheets, promised faithfully not to faff about with the spelling/language or anything else and started reviewing my own novel. This has given me a real sense that I am in control of the book, not it in control of me. I've got loads of ideas for the rewrite, can see each little 'telling-not-showing', 'whose POV?' and 'who is this character?' moment and am noting it down. Off the page (very important). What I'm really doing is the opposite of what I usually do. Instead of fiddling with the small stuff, I;'m standing back, and looking at the whole think. What did I want it to be? Who were my characters? Where did the story wander off? Then I can get on with the smaller stuff, then finally the language. I don't think I would have dared even look at the book otherwise. I have one great advantage - I write very first first drafts, so I can hold most characters in my head and most of the plot (because I cannot plan). My first drafts are quite well formed, fairly good to start with. But there they languish, not getting any better, just fading away as my insecurities cut away at anything spontaneous, original, quirky and turn it into something my English teacher might recognise from when I was 15. I have, however, learned to edit short stories, again from the top down. So hopefully this will be an extension of that process.

The first chapter strikes me as way too slow, no real hooks to get you reading, no development of the  characters. I wrote the first two chapters from the wrong POV's, the man's and I started the book from a secondary character's story, not the principal. What I liked, however, is the creepy, ghostly spin on the main character and her rather odd way of looking at the world, that can come up.

Meanwhile, something that's been bothering me for a few days. A fellow blogger has raised a question about how she feels about being identified as a writer. How do I feel about being a writer? I do feel the word is appropriate, even if I'm not presently published, because that's where the work is. I think anyone who works on writing every day is a writer in the same way that someone who plays music every day is a musician. It takes so long to get published you can lose heart, you have to keep that passion and confidence flying. For me personally (and it's just me), I'm working on being comfortable with the word, 'writer'.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Chapter 4 - into drama.

OK, deep breath, hold it...and dive in. I'm really nervous about the drama bit, even though I have a feeling one of the three forms (radio play, stage play or screenplay) will probably be fine. I had to write a piece of dialogue between two characters and had some fun with it. I must admit, as I write the voices do start to sound in my head.

Me: I have no idea what I'm doing, really. I mean, it's not like fiction, is it? Fiction is my thing.
A363: It's exactly like fiction. You are making stuff up, characters and settings, and making stories happen. Isn't that what you do in fiction? Anyway, I recall that chapters one, two and three were all fiction.
Me: Well, I don't like plays.
A363: You said that about life writing.
Me: But...
A363: And poetry. A fair few tears over poetry, as I remember.
Me: Well, I can't stand radio. I can't even listen to story tapes.
A363: I'm not asking you to listen to radio. I'm telling you to write one small radio play. You can make coffee, can't you?
Me: Of course.
A363: And do you like coffee?
Me: Can't stand the stuff.
A363: I think I have made my point. Do you think your husband puts on the radio and brews two litres of coffee in his office to keep you out?
Me: Hadn't thought about it...until now.

As time went on 'Me' became a sulky child and 'A363' a smug bastard. I wonder where this double act is going. 

I can really recommend the BBC writers room website for its brilliant advice and even better, template for Word.  It was a bit of a fiddle to download (well, to find it in my antiquated version of word!)

Monday, 21 June 2010

You Write On and A363

I've been playing with the website You Write On, and found it really helpful, as long as you bear in mind the limitations of some of the reviewers. I put two first chapters up in 2007, before I really started studying writing again and had some very helpful reviews. You can use their self-publishing arm (which is just an attempt to improve vanity publishing, I think, as it bypasses all suggestion of peer review) but the main draw is that the best chapters are reviewed by real editors.

Activity 3.7 in A363 quite comically takes a few lines from the opening speech from Under Milkwood: 

It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nannygoats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah...

and translates it into:

The chapel is small and cold and dark, but somehow sounds as if the congregation of women are in there, despite it being night-time. 

The task is to gather some prose, de-dramatise it, then return to it a few days later and re-dramatise it! 

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Birdbaths and blogs

I started the day with a bird bath. The magpie we rescued is refusing all suggestions that he might like to splash in the dog bowl full of clean, fresh water provided. It's a first for me, most birds love to bath especially if they can cover a wide area with splashes and preferably poo as well. I got a plant sprayer and started squirting him gently on the worst bits, below the tummy, where he tends to sit in poo. I'm trying to teach him to perch - which he is doing at the moment just to show off. 'I can perch if I want to,' he is saying, 'but I prefer to sit in a puddle of poo.' All corvids are bloody minded. Magpies have a reputation of being the worst of the bunch. And he hasn't got a name yet because I am still not sure he isn't on a one-way journey to the vet.

I'm gently pottering through A363 chapter 3, working towards the TMA which I hope will be a short story (there's bound to be a short story at some point! Surely!)

I started with activity 3.1, looking for a news story and came up with one on the BBC website. Two people had crashed their car, which burst into flames but two men rescued them by bashing in their sunroof. The exercise made me look at where the sources actually came from - the people concerned didn't write the article, there were only secondary sources available. But the story was written up to be as dramatic and accurate as the reporter could make it - if made exciting to read so his editor would print it.

The next section looked at research - what efforts we have to put into making a piece seem real. Sarah Water's wrote The Night Watch and the research may not make it authentically historically accurate but it feels right for the 2010 audience. In my romance writing era I had to look carefully at language etc. to make a Regency period piece seem a bit Jane Austen like but not too old fashioned. Georgette Heyer's regency novels and full of archaisms, yet have a very thirties and forties energy and post-suffragette lively characters. We're living in a  post-pill, post-sexual revolution world, how can we make a Regency heroine who sits on her sprigged muslin arse and waits for Mr. Right (or Mr. Darcy, for that matter) to ask us to marry us. Even if we then exercise our little power and say no, thus committing social suicide. Heyer got it right, because she did masses of research but I don't think many historical writers do. I was completely convinced of Water's world.

We then looked at Liz Jensen's War Crimes for the Home also set in WW2. Again, the little details make it seem spot on, creating an authentic feel. I have ordered both books, both dragged me in. I chose Lindy-hop from the list of topics to research in activity 3.4 and came up with several ideas for a story, just from the research which was riveting. I can see this is a rich vein of potential ideas for original stories. Just this one idea got me into racial integration in the early 1930's, the cultural message of the GI's during WW2 (also in Jensen's book!) and a wide range of other sources.

I was surprised to find that Stef Penney when she wrote The Tenderness of Wolves had never been to Canada, but good research and a powerful imagination put her there. There's hope for the widely read but thinly travelled me, then!

Magpies and crows

A recurring theme in my life is the corvids that turn up for rescue (not to mention the hedgehogs). Corvids, for those people who don't have them barge their way in, are members of the crow family, and over the years we have helped all the British crows except ravens and choughs. We even had a stunned jay once, whose amazing beauty we marvelled over until it suddenly stopped acting like it was drunk and flew straight through the house and out the porch window. It's been many years since a crow came for help, but a few weeks ago an almighty screaming from the front of my neighbours property turned out to be a baby magpie being attacked by four adult magpies, and being somewhat defended by two others. We assumed they were the parents. Once disturbed, all seven flew off, but over the next few days we saw the baby more and more, on the trampoline, on the shed, behind the chickens. He would land next to a cat if it would put his relentless attackers off. Gradually the parents gave up and left him to fend entirely for himself, and he got thinner and weaker. Then, we noticed his leg hanging down, and five days later, exhausted and too tired and thin to fly above my head, we chased him down the side of the house and Sophie managed to get her hands to him.

The idea was to get him in, fill his crop and let him die warm and safe and in a  dark place. Twelve hours later, his stomach slightly fuller, he was bright eyed and interested in what goodies we were going to come back with next. (Cat food and chopped treats) We said, we would give him two weeks to either get better and go back to the wild or come to terms with a life in captivity and become the first resident of the new corvid rescue aviary. The worst possible scenario is that he is afraid of us all the time, but that is clearly not the case. He doesn't like us either, but he likes the meaty chunks (not the jelly though) and the soaked cat biscuits and the fat balls we feed the blue tits. He has completely broken the leg, and worse, it was already healing crooked when we found him. He'll always need an aviary but people are another matter, he's bright enough to prefer me to Russell so he's probably male. He's starting to 'play' with fat balls, tear up paper etc. which is a good sign. He lets me put my hand to within a few inches or even brush his back. He doesn't move out the way when I slide fresh paper in (which is a nuisance). I'm open minded about him. The one question I have to ask myself is: if he had a choice, would he choose this life? Or would he choose death? Miserable birds become apathetic. He's enthusiastic, curious, looking for life. I feel like we have to give him a  bit longer, and get him flying. Not to mention, give him a  bath.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


I've been getting rejections - but for the first time in my life, I'm not hiding away crying. My latest wasn't that bad anyway:

Unfortunately we felt that your writing relied a shade too heavily on its plot and, as a result, the characters did not get a chance to spring to life. Sorry we're unable to use your work.

Definitely progress! I expect to see further criticisms of my settings, dialogue and characterisation but each magazine is a new market and it takes time and practice to find what works. I have so many pieces of work out there at the moment I don't feel too bad about the rejections. The board presently has eight competition entries or short stories out there. I put more out there and get them back every week. I have three poetry entries to go off - that's my next job. I hope to have 12-20 short stories to peddle around while I'm working on my MA, just ready for a bit of tarting up and tweaking for each magazine.

Meanwhile, I'm reading the Bridport Prize anthologies to get inspired for the first TMA for A363 - a 1500 word short story. I need something that would be 'easy' to adapt for drama of some sort. But the Bridport and Mslexia short story competitions have told me something - concentrate on an unusual theme. Tell a unique story rather than a commonplace story cleverly told. Back to A363, chapter 3.

I did play around with activity 2.10 and came up with a cute freewrite giving it a lyrical treatment then changing the pace:

Folding the laundry (Long slow version)

I find in the basket a nest of clean memories: the day we walked in the rain into town and found the comedy T-shirt my son loves; the colourful socks we bought half price before the Co-op closed down; washed and rewashed sunny days of our youngest’s favourite colourful top. The scent is unique to laundry that has been hung out in the garden, refreshed by breezes flowing off the Atlantic, winding their way down the valley, running aerie fingers through pants and shirts, socks and jeans, on their way to the east. I gather a T-shirt to my face, to inhale the last of that sea air, the fresh detergent, and underneath, the scent of my family. Tumbled in some soapy soup, socks wandering into jumpers, sleeves waving in the bubbly softness, turning, waving through the porthole on their journey to the garden. I smooth the softness in my hands, arrange in piles. A T-shirt remains from my daughter’s exodus, and is held a little longer, a small part of her presence in an uncertainty of her return. The top I took from my sister’s wardrobe after she died, one of her favourites, silky in my hands. It is a little smoother, more glamorous than any of my clothes, it retains some thing of her personality.

Folding the laundry (short fast version)

I find the basket is a nest of clean memories. There’s the day we walked in the rain into town and found the comedy T-shirt my son loves. And, before the Co-op closed down, we bought these colourful socks half price. Here is our youngest’s favourite top, washed and rewashed: a memory of sunny days. The scent is unique to laundry that has been hung out in the garden. Refreshed by breezes flowing off the Atlantic, winding their way down the valley. They run aerie fingers through pants and shirts, socks and jeans, on their way to the east. I gather a T-shirt to my face, to inhale the last of that sea air. There is the tang of fresh detergent, and underneath, the scent of my family. Tumbled in some soapy soup. Socks wandered into jumpers, sleeves waved in the bubbly softness. They turned, waved through the porthole on their journey to the garden. I smooth the softness in my hands, arrange in piles. A T-shirt remains from my daughter’s exodus. It’s held a little longer, a small part of her presence in an uncertainty of her return. The top I took from my sister’s wardrobe after she died was one of her favourites. It’s silky in my hands. It is a little smoother, more glamorous than any of my clothes. It retains some thing of her personality.
 I don't know why I called it short - it's the same length but punchier. Both serve a purpose, it is going to make me vary my work more, anyway.

Monday, 14 June 2010

A363 and activity 2.4

Working through pages 18 and 19 sparked a lot of ideas - looking at the story from the antagonist's point of view can reveal different conflicts and plot twists. This came out of activity 2.4, telling a story from the POV of someone you don't like/sympathise with. I then elected to leave the protagonist's part out all together, as if you were listening to one half of a phone conversation. Hopefully, imagination and empathy from the reader will fill in the blanks. I'm only putting part of it up, as I'm working on it for a flash fiction comp - I'm better at flash than I thought, as you hack away all the unecessary verbiage you leave the story clean of extra weight.

Of course I remember you. Nineteen eighty eight? George and Janice Fisher, carers, I have the file here.

Do you know how highly people thought of the Fishers?

George stood up for you in court…you know, when your mother—when she had her breakdown.

Most kids like a bit of rough and tumble. And kids love being tickled, my own grandson…and you did ask to go back to them. How old were you then? Nine? Ten.

He always spoke highly of you. You were placed there for six years and did very well. That was after your Mum died, wasn’t it?

I think you should consider everything he did for you. Just because there were a few silly games you didn’t like…

I don’t think an eleven year old would even know what an erection was.

This kind of conflict immediately ramps up the tension, compared to say, the description of someone nervously approaching this officious social worker or whatever he/she is. I imagined her as a late middle aged social worker trying to fend off a potential lawsuit.

Having enjoyed activity 2.5 and read V.S. Pritchett's short story, I tried to follow this with the story of two women, both mothers, sitting together in a hospital corridor. At first, they seem to ahve more in common than conflict, then I let their differences come in. This is VERY first draft.

Trina looked in her handbag for a mint, a bit of chewing gum maybe. Nothing.
‘My Marcus, he’s at college now, you know.’
Marilyn looked straight ahead. ‘I heard. Engineering, wasn’t it?’
‘The government give a grant, it’s called a bursary. They need engineers that badly. He’s doing really well, passed everything so far.’
‘Good for him. At least he’ll be able to get a proper job.’
That stung. Trina sat up. ‘What do you mean? My husband works very hard. It’s not easy to get work around here.’
That wasn’t strictly true. He had been a very hard worker when Trina met him, but now they got by on her wages at the Co-op and the odd job he would manage off the books.
Marilyn rolled her head towards Trina, not quite meeting her gaze. ‘I didn’t mean nothing.’
Trina sat and smarted for at least a minute. ‘At least I got a husband.’ It was supposed to be under her breath, but it came out louder than she had expected, in the echoing hospital hallway.
‘I’ve got a husband, too. We’re separated, that’s all. Marriages go through bad patches. Andy’s been very low since his Dad died.’
Trina snorted, but in a ladylike way. Bad patch.
Marilyn’s voice sounded softer. ‘We shouldn’t argue, not now.’
Right enough. Still no news.

I've now got 7 short stories out and five more pieces for competitions. I had to come up with a filing system, and gave the stories proper cards and stuck them on the notice board - it looks like a writer's room (except for the admittedly quirky accesories: a giant box of lego, a basket of mismatched socks, a spare door for an Aga, a sewing machine and a sickly magpie in a cat carrier.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Working hard with £'s in mind

I have now officially sold out (temporarily) to the commercial side and written a couple of completely commercial short stories. Romances. And I have to admit to a sneaking pleasure in writing love stories, we're all looking for love, pretty well all the time, love from our partners, children, parents, pets... Anyway, it's about a woman who only meets a man through her work - delivering flowers. The first time is to the man's dying wife and as the deliveries go through the first year, a relationship blooms (sorry). I think it really works, as a quiet little read over a cup of tea and a cake. As an antidote, I have written the rubber gloves story about a cleaner - more gory, a bit of suspense, and a bit more fun. I'm also working on Viking funeral, a short story for Writing magazine's June edition. Busy me.

My poetry hasn't had much of a look in, so I'll have to get back to that this week. Although I write at least 1000 words a day, it takes ages to finish a short story. I write a very quick first draft, but sometimes have to go back, and write another first draft or two - before I start the second draft which is really a complete rewrite. Then it has to go through quality control for the language, a haphazard affaire since I hate doing ti - so, it takes many hours of work for each short piece! I hope to get some course work done tomorrow - I promised myself I would do fiction 1 for the first TMA by the end of June. Not looking very likey, to be honest!

Monday, 7 June 2010

A363 Chapter 2

I have taken exercise 2.2 from the new course and written a short story. It's about a woman cleaning a floor in an empty flat. Predictably, she's musing on the identity of the deceased, elderly owner when she discovers a tiny clue that might explain her unnatural demise. Immediately I wrote it, I applied chapter two and realised that her speculations could become more dramatic if the person she realises may have committed a crime actually walks in, if only to check whether the flat will be ready for the estate agents to begin viewings (he's very keen to get his inheritance). So I can move the story up a gear and this is the big, plot edit that I will get on with today. Then I can work on the language another time.

For activity 2.2 I also played around with the Uncle Fred blog entries and a theme immediately presented itself from the week I picked randomly - Fred waters his mother's grave, itself a very retrospective look, and there's the added dimension of the seventy year gap between the diary entries and the blog. And if course, Dunkirk rumbling in the background.

He waters Mother's grave
Plants geraniums and petunias
While Dunkirk guns echo through
The night-time air

He walks along the railway path
Rain softening his day
Buys Dinkey's food while desperate men
Crush into the grey sea

He washes the sashes round the back
As they rattle with the echoes
Of the Dunkirk guns,
An walk over dusky Cannon Hill

Warm sun on the new blue suit
The first rose blooms, startling
In cerise, scarlet, ochre and yellow
An explosion of colour.

OK this is just the raw material, but I'm amazed at the juxtaposition of the Dunkirk drama unfolding (which he, of course, wasn't as aware at the time as we are now) and the normal life that had to go on just the same. All from four diary entries! Go A363...

We've got a date for the boys college interviews - my attendance at Winchester is somewhat dependant on at least one of the boys getting in - otherwise I would have to go into halls or share a house (gulp) with someone else's teenagers. And we have to find a house - if not then, at least in July. It helps that the long list of requirements we had for this adventure are being ticked off - I have a car (tick), Carey has passed his driving test so can co-pilot (tick) I'm in at Winchester (tick). Now I just have the other hurdles of getting funding for the boys, them on courses, packing, renting, moving and saying goodbye to the bear for weeks at a time. I love my bear, I miss him if he goes away for one night. This is going to be tricky for both of us.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Slowly getting there!

I have a short story that I have been developing for three years. That's a hundred and fifty odd weeks, a ridiculous number of times I've gone back to the same two characters and asked, why doesn't this (quite) work? So I paid my money and sent it off to Writer's Forum, to see what's fundamentally missing. I also sent it off to my OU tutor, who gave it a good mark but wondered if it might be better for a stronger, more dramatic opening.

Anyway, the reviewer liked the story and used lots of lovely phrases like: Very good - you drew me in from the first word (about the title and opening). Excellent dialogue, you know exactly how to use dialogue to move the story along and add to character development. And my personal favourite - An emotional story dealing with big issues. I liked it very much and it gripped me completely. You write well with flow and style, Your use of dialogue is effortless (all those thousands of hours as a counsellor, listening to people!) BUT the viewpoint character was not well drawn and she felt that she could react/explore more - to make her viewpoint worthwhile. It's just the issue of Ellen that keeps this story of the short list. So a new angle to work on!

Meanwhile - A363 is gently starting to roll forward. It occurs to me, when I'm torn between working on poems or short stories for competitions, or publication, I go back to my studies to jump start the process again. I'm going to miss having the OU's amazingly helpful starting points for work! Sometimes, the activities are so challenging writing for competitions feels easier. Anyway, I looked at activity 1.7, looking at the story 'A Real Durwan' by Jhumpa Lahiri,a nd was immediately drawn to film. All those Indian backgrounds and accents and a great older actor to play the lead Boori Ma! Maybe drama will come more naturally than I thought...Dramatising it in radio would lose a lot of the place, the setting which is crucial to the story. So much of the background would need to be either narrated or written in, though. Still, making me think about it.

Activity 2.2 is about conflict and contract using simple source material that lacks tension. I looked at the entries of a fellow blogger, My Uncle Fred which are authentic entries from a 1940's London resident. Taking even an apparently mundane entry, one can weave a quite dramatic story around the entries. I would put a quote in but I haven't asked the blogger concerned. BUT Fred talks about people in such warm terms, you can imagine a story there someowhere with all these other players. I recommend the blog by the way - fascinating. I'm now working on a short story based on one of the entries.