15 March 2013

Testing times

by Rufus Purdy From Our Students, Our Courses

Shhh. We’re currently carrying out a trial version of the Curtis Brown Creative online novel-writing course, which we hope to launch shortly. A small band of students – including myself – have been workshopping their novels-in-progress in cyberspace, and, so far, the quality of writing has been incredibly high. I’ve yet to submit my pages though – so standards could take a nosedive in the next few days.

The mechanics of the online course are working very well and, though there are a few little glitches to sort out before we open it up for submissions, we feel it’s an excellent alternative to our traditional courses for those who are unable to commit to weekly sessions in our central London offices. Watch this space for more news.
Homework this week was to write a story of just 100 words (including title) – one with a proper narrative arc; and a beginning, middle and end – and all the students produced. So, in alphabetical order by writer, here they are for your enjoyment:

Gloves
They were my gloves. That was what they said in court, and I couldn’t argue. Navy-blue leather. Expensive. They were mine, all right.
The blood was in the seams, apparently. They’d been wiped clean, but the fine stitching down the sides of the fingers… full of DNA. And of course, he was my husband.
My sister watched from the gallery, straight-faced, as the jury read out: Guilty. I said nothing.
I know it was her I saw that day, head down in the rain, holding my umbrella, her hands snug in my leather gloves.
She’s ALWAYS taking my stuff.
Nan Craig

Reflexion
Their hands have been all over one another, all the afternoon long. Slung together, fingers dovetailed, or, on quieter stretches of the riverbank, under clothes, flattened against skin. Hot-air balloons slide overhead, unseen. There is only her eyes, his lips on hers.
They do not hear the dog until it is almost upon them, snarling, flashing. Too late to run. They freeze; but the boy’s embrace has turned itself inside-out, something like a shove, her between the dog and him.
The dog stops, sniffs, lopes away.
Years later she will remember the dog, but not the boy’s name.
Laura Fowler

Blackouts
‘Brian!’ she called.
No sound. Just the low whoosh of the boiler.
She moved into the kitchen. The cat food still untouched. Dust had settled like frost on the biscuits.
‘Brian,’ she shouted again.
The knife – the one they used for chicken – lay on the worktop. She wiped it on a tea towel and put it away.
She stepped through the back door. Wet grass underfoot. Soil in the rosebed churned up again. Foxes?
She peered down and saw Brian’s white face between clods of earth.
‘Oh yes.’ She remembered now.
She really would have to change her medication.
Rufus Purdy

Day 364
‘Oxygen, four percent, sir. Fuel, two.’
Captain Roberts kept staring. Only he could see the future.
The city, he had said – months ago. It’s not there. Plaintively, like he had mislaid a toy.
Crippled by humanity yet consumed by shame, thought Etherington. And anger. It was mad. He would have disobeyed, too.
It didn’t matter. On day 40, others had fired.
The periscope’s arms flipped up.
‘The mutineers?’
‘Not a sound for twelve.’
‘Good.’ The captain’s face twisted.
‘No more time, sir! We can’t hide forever.’
‘Shall we bring her up, sir?’
The captain stood still. Etherington fought for breath.
‘Sir?’
Barney Thompson

As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.

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