05 May 2022

#WriteCBC tip and task from Abbie Greaves

by Katie Smart Events, From Our Students, Writing Tips

Welcome to our May edition of #WriteCBC. I hope you’re ready to be inspired by our latest writing challenge! If you haven’t taken part in a #WriteCBC competition before, we’re excited to welcome you to our writing community – and you can quickly get up to speed by reading this blog with information about how to play. It’s a lot of fun, and you might just win a free place on one of our six-week online writing courses.

This month’s special guest is the wonderful Abbie Greaves. Abbie is the author of The Silent Treatment and The Ends of the Earth. Her novels have been translated into over a dozen languages, selected for the Radio 2 Book Club and shortlisted for the RNA Debut Novel of the Year Award. Abbie worked in publishing for three years, including at Curtis Brown as literary agent’s assistant to Sheila Crowley, before leaving to write full time. Abbie is the tutor of our upcoming Edit & Pitch Your Novel – Advanced course. Apply by 15 May.

Abbie’s tip:

Reading is my number one source of creative inspiration – news articles, profiles, social media posts… Whatever I can lay my hands on! This is always fused with other strands: an emotive song lyric, an old film, a conversation with a friend…

Abbie was inspired to write her debut novel The Silent Treatment after reading a newspaper article about a boy in Japan who had never seen his parents speak to one another. Her novel develops the concept of ‘the silent treatment’ into a story with original characters and plot lines. In the book, protagonist Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months. The couple still live together, eat together and sleep in the same bed. The story unfolds as Frank begins to unravel the reasons for his silence. This is just one example of how an idea from unexpected source material can ignite your imagination and help you form a unique narrative.

Abbie’s task:

Write a scene inspired by something unusual you’ve read or heard about recently. A news story, a chat overheard in a café or something that happened to you. Make the story even stranger. Add a twist to send the scene in a different direction.

Take as much or as little from your source material as you need to. For example, you could borrow just a short line of dialogue from an overheard conversation and build a completely new scene around it. You could even be inspired by multiple sources: perhaps you’ll take an event from a newspaper article and then blend this with an emotion from a song you’ve been listening to.

Whatever approach you take, make sure that you transform the element(s) from your source(s) into a completely new story. We don’t want you to simply dramatise something you’ve read or overheard – we want you to make it your own with a twist or two.

What do we mean by a twist? We don’t need you to write the most unusual scene possible. But we do want you to combine your source story with your imagination to subvert our expectations, to create a scene that seems stranger than fiction. The twist or hook of your mini-scene should be unexpected. Perhaps you want to shock us with something disturbing or make us laugh with a funny turn of events.

Remember to share your mini-scenes by tweeting us (@cbcreative) by 10am on Fri 6 May to enter the competition – we can’t wait to read your stranger-than-fiction stories!

Follow Abbie on Twitter @AbbieGreaves1.


The winner is…. Rachel @Littlewolfhome!

The piano was advertised as, ‘Definitely not haunted.’ Sniggers filled the room. The auctioneer’s gavel rapped; I’d won. Only I know the truth and it’s no joke. Those keys play the tune of death. And oh, how she loves to play. Your last birthday will be interesting.

Rachel’s mini-scene gets off to a great start with a really fun source of inspiration: a real advertisement for a piano that is ‘Definitely not haunted.’ The way that Rachel leans into the humour of this ad before revealing her very own supernatural twist makes for an extremely enjoyable and spooky read, which only gets darker and more chilling as the the scene progresses.

Congratulations! Rachel has won a free place on the six-week creative-writing course of her choice.

Well done to our runners-up!

Teroshio @teroshio and Julie Rea @juliepie76 have both won a £50 discount to be used on the six-week creative writing course of their choice.

Please email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk to claim your prize!

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