06 December 2018

#WriteCBC The Big Winter Story – task and tips …

msystic scene with red chair in a winter forest
by Anna Davis Events, Writing Tips

We’ve reached the climax of our #WriteCBC collaborative Twitter Big Winter Story – and we strongly doubt it could be any nuttier! It started with a mysterious red velvet chair in a snowy photo prompt from the fabulous Marian Keyes and has now come all the way to a young William Shakespeare being kidnapped by faceless figures with laptops, coding a bizarre banquet illusion … Only our heroine, the time-travelling Carrie has any hope of saving him … (Did we really get here in just six tweets?!)

Here’s today’s winner – Episode 6 – the Climax … And it’s from the very festive Jennabanezer Scrooge! She wins a £50 discount off one of our 6-week online courses

Will was just a boy. Carrie had guarded & loved them all – writers torn from their time by faceless ghosts of the future. They could rewrite stories out of history. But, she knew how to save him.

“Will, your words are more powerful than theirs! Let’s play pretend again!”

We really liked the story that Jenna(banezer) has injected into this tweet in just a few words … We’ve got an explanation for the ghosts – they’re stealing writers to rewrite history itself. Plus we know what Carrie’s role is and her relationship to Will – a guardian of these great writers, who is now looking after young Will. Will’s words are going to save the day but it’s Carrie who’s firmly the heroine of the story, taking action and knowing what she needs to get him to do … Well done, Jenna! Quite a feat!

If you’ve just arrived at the Big Winter Story, you could still get to write the ending today – or a title on Monday (just check out the full instructions on how to join in The Big Winter Story in this blog if you’re new to this) – then let your imagination run wild.

Below is the story so far … Now it’s time to write the ending – have a go at this by 10am on Monday 17th December! One winning episode will be selected and posted up at (or just after) 11am – at which point you move on to the title … And artists, remember that we’re looking for an illustration too!

Our wonderful former student Caz Frear, author of the excellent Sweet Little Lies, will be gifting a £200 online course to the writer whose story-ending we select! Thank you so much, Caz! And then on the final day – 18th December – we’ll be awarding another £200 online course place to an overall winner (and there may just be one or two extra £50 course discounts being given away too on that final day).

Here’s the story so far, as written by Minerva, Heather Abela, Heidi Piercy, Den Cartlidge, Jo Withers and Jennabanezer Scrooge. Today we would like you to write the ending … 

Will stopped, mid snowball throw. The chair hadn’t been there a moment ago.

‘What’s up, can’t aim properly?’ Carrie taunted from behind a silvery tree.

‘No, there in the lane.’ He pointed at the velvet chair, stark red against the snow, as if plucked from a stately home.

Carrie, delighted, arranged her threadbare skirts and lowered herself into the chair like a queen. Her smile fell. Almost immediately she could smell a roast dinner, taste the salt on her tongue. Glasses chinked, plates scraped and low voices murmured, saying her name. 

As the snow blindness melted from her eyes she saw row upon row of faceless figures watching. Whispering her name, mulling it over, greedily awaiting her next move and then, when it came, ferociously typing away onto laptops, computers, mobile phones. 

‘The banquet program is failing,’ someone shouted. ‘Fix it or she’ll see us.’

Carrie could smell roast meat again, but she could still see the horrid figures typing away.

‘It’s a real girl,’ someone giggled, ‘from 1899.’

‘But we want the boy,’ said another voice.

‘Will’s smart – you won’t get him and it’s 1578 you dim-wits.’

They adjusted their dials. A sudden flash of light and Will sat shaking beside Carrie.

‘William Shakespeare, most influential human ever, so glad that you could join us!’ Their laughter echoed through the room.

Will was just a boy. Carrie had guarded & loved them all – writers torn from their time by faceless ghosts of the future. They could rewrite stories out of history. But she knew how to save him. “Will, your words are more powerful than theirs! Let’s play pretend again!”

What comes next? It’s up to you.

How will this crazy festive tale end … ?

The Dramatic Arc

This #WriteCBC is will be underpinned by basic dramatic structure. Remember that you are writing episodes which will form part of a larger, collaborative story – each episode will have a specific role to play. The people whose tweet-episodes get selected as winners will definitely be among those who get to grips really effectively with the building blocks of story.

Here’s a bit more on the traditional story arc and its relevance to our Big Winter story.

The Opening episode – 6th December: Set-up – sets up the protagonist and tells us when and where the story is happening

Episode 2 – 7th December: Inciting Incident – Something happens which is a challenge to the protagonist and a call to action – setting them on a particular course (perhaps a goal to be achieved, a mystery to be solved, a situation to be escaped, etc) to set the story in motion.

Episode 3 – 10th December: The Confrontation – The protagonist’s attempts to deal with the inciting incident bring about bigger problems/challenges – there’ll be plenty of antagonism/conflict (forces of opposition) going on. The protagonist won’t have the skills/ knowledge needed to get out of his/her difficulty.

Episode 4 – 11th December: Midpoint – The protagonist has some kind of realisation about what he/she needs to do to resolve the problem/achieve their goal – without yet being able to do it

Episode 5 – 12th December: Crisis/Reversal – this is where everything goes terribly wrong. The protagonist’s attempts to resolve the situation brings about a dramatic crisis, with the protagonist reaching his/her lowest ebb.

Episode 6 – 13th December: Climax – Then we want a climax, where our character uses the tools/skills/realisations they’ve gained in some manner of final confrontation or showdown. This can be interpreted in so many ways – anything from a major battle to somebody struggling with their own personal demons in a way that’s completely interior.

Episode 7 – 14th December: Ending – Our story finds its resolution. I wonder what kind of ending you will write? One of them will win a free place on a £200 course, provided by Caz Frear!

And then …

17th December: Title – Every story needs a title. Can you think of a good one for our Big Winter Story?

18th December: Final results – who has been chosen as our overall winner? We’ll pick one writer and one illustrator

And so to work!

We’re excited to read your endings  …

For more detailed advice on plotting, planning and story structure, enrol on one of our three 6-week online courses: Starting to Write Your NovelWrite to the End of Your Novel and Edit & Pitch Your Novel.

For the illustrators among you why not take a look at our online picture book courses taught by popular children’s author-illustrators Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell: Illustrating a Children’s Picture Book, Writing a Children’s Picture Book and Writing and Illustrating a Children’s Picture Book


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