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07 May 2020

#WriteCBC tip and task from Clare Pooley

Clare Pooley, author
by Anna Davis Events, Writing Tips

Welcome to our second anniversary edition of #WriteCBC, we launched the Twitter competition in May 2018 as a seven day challenge in honour of our seventh birthday. This week CBC celebrated it’s ninth birthday and the team threw a virtual party with cake (read more about our ninth birthday here).

We hope you’re all safe and well in these weird lockdown times – and that today’s edition of our monthly Twitter writing competition will get your creative juices going. If you haven’t taken part before, we’re delighted to have you join us  – and you can quickly get up to speed by reading this blog with information about how to play. It’s lots of fun and you might just win a free place on one of our six-week online writing courses.

May’s special guest is our fabulous former student Clare Pooley! Clare took our three-month novel-writing course in London in 2018, where she worked on her debut novel The Authenticity Project with tutor Charlotte Mendelson. Within months of finishing the course, she gained representation and a major book deal for her debut novel, which was sold to Transworld in the UK and Penguin Random House in the US. You can read more about Clare, her novel and her non-fiction book The Sober Diaries here. The Authenticity Project launched a few weeks ago, and Clare wrote a great piece for our blog on the very peculiar experience of being published during lockdown. We’re thrilled to welcome her to #WriteCBC!

And so to business!

Clare’s writing tip:

Try using an interesting object to generate story. Ask yourself questions: What is the object’s history and purpose? Does it carry a secret? Who is its owner, and why would your character be drawn to it when it obviously belongs to someone else?

This is a piece of advice that chimes in very nicely with a free writing workout that I wrote recently. (If you haven’t already signed up for the free workouts, now’s the time to do so – take a look right here). There are so many ways to come up with an idea for a story – and one way is quite simply to pick up an object that appeals to you – perhaps something that’s just lying around – and to ask yourself questions about it. It could be a photograph album, a key, a pebble, a jewellery box, an old scrap of newspaper – really, anything. Ask yourself why it’s interesting, where it came from, whether it holds a secret of some sort … You don’t need to restrict yourself to the real answers – you can use this question and answer process to inspire yourself to create a story for the object.

Then Clare’s tip suggests you go a couple of steps further down the road to story … She wants you to think about who owns the object. Now, in reality this might be you, or your mum or partner. But this tip suggests you wander further into the world you’re creating, and come up with a fictional owner. The tip also invites you to have a character discover the object – so think about who this might be, and why the object would appeal to them in particular. You might want to choose a character from a work-in-progress or perhaps you’ll come up with someone entirely new.

See how far you can run with this idea. Before you know it, you might find you have a whole new story to tell – or a new scene to add to a novel or story you’re already working on.

Clare’s writing task:

Find an object to use as a writing prompt – anything from a book to a bus ticket. Someone has left it behind, and your character has found it. What is it and what happens? Write a mini-scene, and you could attach a photo of the object too

Clare’s novel The Authenticity Project opens with a character – Monica – finding an exercise book in the cafe she runs – and being drawn to open it. She knows she shouldn’t really be reading it – it belongs to someone else. But she’s drawn to look inside – and what she reads there will start her on a quest that will change her life.

Now Clare is inviting you to use an object as the start of a story. Choose something that you have in your home, and ask yourself questions about it – and about its owner and the person who is now finding it. See if you can use the answers you come up with to weave a scene or a mini-story in the form of a tweet.

Show us as much as you can in your tweet-length scene: You might not manage to get the object’s owner in – but we do, as minimum, need the character who is discovering the left-behind item, and we’ll need to get a good sense of what the object is and why they are drawn to this thing that is not theirs.

If you’d like to attach a photo of the item in question, that’d be lovely – it would be great to see what you’re all writing about. But here’s a hint – make sure your scene doesn’t rely on the photo to tell us what the object is. Your tweet needs to work on its own, without the photo of the object.

So – good luck! We look forward to reading your mini-scenes and having a look at your photographs …

This month’s #WriteCBC winner is … Bethan @bethanhay_

Mum used to say the small things end marriages but I expected a little bigger, less sparkly.

A sequin shining in the rug, fallen from a dress not mine, buried by bare feet stepping from a bed not theirs.

“You must have carried it in on your shoe.”

I didn’t.

One small sequin has altered the lives of these characters forever. The simplicity of Bethan’s stripped back prose is striking. The understated reaction of the protagonist discovering that their partner has been unfaithful speaks volumes. You can feel the resolve and heartbreak in that final sentence, in just two words you know that all the trust in the relationship is gone.

Congratulations Bethan, you’ve won a free place on the six-week course of your choice!

This month the entries were so compelling (and it is our second anniversary) so, we’ve decided to award five runners-up! Well done @Onetiredwriter, @writerlynds, @millyrandall85, @clarnic and @LauraRinaldi_. You each win a copy of Clare’s wonderful novel The Authenticity Project.

For a limited time we’re offering £50 off our six-week online courses with code WRITEFROMHOME50

The discount can be applied to our online Writing Short StoriesWriting a MemoirStarting to Write Your Novel,  Write to the End of Your Novel Edit & Pitch Your Novel and Picture Book courses.

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