Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gothic Book Covers

I was pretty bored tonight. It wasn't like I didn't have anything to do -  I have so much work to do, it's unreal - I just couldn't be bothered to do any of it. So what do I do when I procrastinate  I draw! Well, this is kind of the same, it's arty at least. Instead of doing any writing, which is what I should really be doing, I designed some covers for my ECP. (Read the First Draft now!) I don't know what to call my ECP; I've just named it Scribe for now. I'm not a Photoshop genius even if I'd like to be, so these were only designed on Microsoft Word.

You can probably tell some of the themes from these covers, at least I hope you can. Obviously, as it's do with Edgar Allan Poe I have some ravens. The second one features everybody's favourite: The Red-Faced Man. The second and third cover actually feature the same bookcase as the background but you can't really tell. The first one has a large manor house as the background, this is to do with the creepy house that the spirit-thingy of Edgar Allan Poe lives in. I haven't decided yet but the name of the house may be either Otranto House, Villa Belle Rive, or Villa Diodati. Otranto House has been taken from one of the first Gothic novels entitled The Castle of Otranto which seemed fitting for my story. The other two are variations on the house that Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and others stayed in one summer and is the birthplace of the story Frankenstein. 

Overall, my ECP is coming along quite nicely. I have written another 3,000 words and now have over 6,000! I have sent a second draft to my supervisor so let's see what she thinks next week.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Gothic Village Map

Here is a map of my so far unnamed town (I'm having real problems thinking of a Gothic sounding name that doesn't sound silly). All the street names are taken from Gothic novels or the lives of Gothic writers; you may recognise a few.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

ECP First Draft Feedback

I had a meeting with my supervisor on Monday about my Extended Creative Piece - First Draft. I was dreading it, because while my supervisor is a nice person, she can be a bit iffy. She says one thing to your face but when it comes to marking it her views are very different. I was also pleased with the work I had done and didn't want her to hate it, meaning I'd have to rewrite it entirely. So it was with some trepidation that I made my way to her office.

And yet, all this fear was unfounded.

She was happy to see me and friendly from the beginning. She even offered me tea and/or coffee, which I declined; I was way too nervous to drink. Her mugs looked questionable anyway. The first thing she said about my ECP was that she really enjoyed the beginning. She said it included a good sense of place, she knew who the character was, and it had a great opening line. Obviously this left me beaming. Of course, there were a few tiny mistakes, like clunky sentences, awkward wording, that sort of thing. Common things that can be easily sorted. What she really loved was this part, it had two ticks!

'Very well. I understand,' she said at last and Perry's hopes rose. 'But everyone will stay behind for ten minutes to make up for all the time you wasted with your elaborate display.' The whole class groaned as one and glared at Perry as he made his way back to his chair. The only person who didn't seem to mind was Gregory, who was still drawing eyes even though his pen had run out of ink.' 

She also liked the idea of the red-faced man and was impressed with the drawing I had done. She said that I should try to include it in my piece, like maybe at the beginning of each chapter.

However, she found the character change half-way through jarring. She said that the story was just getting into the action when it suddenly goes back in time to Lenore. I explained that I wanted to see everything from Lenore's point of view as she is really the main character. I had only put Perry's part first as I knew boys would be put off reading a female protagonist, while girls just wouldn't care. My supervisor agreed but I said I would rework it so that the two points of view run side by side, or something similar.

Overall, while I'm writing some good parts, I still need to work on developing the setting and being inside my characters head - seeing everything from their point of view and reacting in a way that they would. I have to have written another 3,000 words for two weeks time, as well as editing the first 3,000. That's on top of two essays and many creative pieces.

And people said third year would be hard...

Monday, 15 October 2012

ECP First Draft

Today I have a meeting with my ECP supervisor, Judy. I am a bit nervous, if she doesn't like it I'll be gutted. I'll post what she says about it here later on. But, I figured you'd want to read it before hand. So here is the first 3,000 words, remember I only have to write 8,000.

Perry could see the man again.
The man with no eyes, deadly sharp teeth, and red raw skin. The man that only he could see. Perry spotted him stood at the end of his road, as if he were a friend waiting to walk to school together. Perry hesitated before hurrying back to his house. As he closed the front door sharply behind him his mum called out from the kitchen.
   'Back already? Did you forget something?'
Perry didn't even bother telling her the truth.
   'Yeah, my maths book,' he yelled back as he ran up to his room.
He'd tried telling her before. But neither his mum nor dad believed him. They thought it was some imaginary friend, and his therapists thought it was a manifestation of a repressed childhood memory. Perry knew they were all wrong. One, fourteen was way too old for imaginary friends. Two, he’d had a perfectly happy childhood, what could he have repressed? This was definitely not something his mind had made up. He wasn't crazy.
He couldn't stay at home for too long, his mum would get suspicious. He leaned out his bedroom window in an attempt to see down the street but couldn't see a thing. He made his way downstairs and out of the house, his insides knotting themselves. He opened the front door slowly, praying to anyone that the red-faced man would be gone. His mum heard him leaving and called out after him. ‘Bye dear, have fun at school.’
Perry left the door on the latch as he snuck to the edge of the garden and peered down the street. It was empty. The red-faced man was gone. He let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. He could still make it to school on time if he ran. Though he didn't know why he was in such a hurry to go to school. The red-faced man would be waiting for him there too.


Perry was lucky for the rest of the morning and didn't see the man once. He started to feel relaxed; he was even able to work out the hardest equation for once. It was during fourth period English class that everything went wrong.
He loved English class, even if his teacher, Ms Allen, was one of the strictest teachers he'd ever had at Manor House College. She sat at the front of the class seemingly engrossed in marking their Shakespeare essays from last week, but Perry knew she was paying attention to everything that was happening in the room. No one messed around in Ms Allen's classes. The boy sat next to Perry, Gregory, wasn't doing his work though. He was doodling what looked like lots of eyeballs in his text book. He would be in trouble if Ms Allen saw that. Perry fiddled with his pen before writing vigorously about the conventions of autobiography. He had written nearly two pages when the back of his neck started to prickle and his palms went clammy.
As if he was being forced, his head turned to the classroom window. Outside, stood in the middle of the rugby pitch, was the red-faced man. His skinless lips peeled apart, forming a sinister grin. He lifted his arm and pointed his red, scabbed hand at Perry as if he could see straight into the classroom to where he was sat.
Perry couldn't help it. He yelped, jumped out of his chair, ran across the room and yanked down the blind. Ms Allen's head snapped up from her desk. Her eyes narrowed behind her thick glasses. Perry had sagged against the wall in relief but his body tensed again as he faced the class. Every eye was on him. Before Ms Allen could tell him off, one of the boys at the back of the class called out.
   'Typical paranoid Perry behaviour.’ He nudged his friend who let out a loud laugh. Before Perry knew it, the whole class was laughing and jeering at him.
   'Paranoid Perry! Paranoid Perry!'
   'That is enough!' Ms Allen screeched. The class quietened immediately but Perry noticed that some of the kids were holding in giggles. Perry faced Ms Allen, not sure who was more terrifying; her or the red-faced man.
   'What is the meaning of this, Mr Prince?'
There was a long pause before Perry blurted out. 'The sun was in my eyes.'
Perry knew this was a feeble excuse as soon as he said it. Ms Allen surveyed him over the top of her glasses. The sun was clearly not in his eyes as he was on the far side of the classroom. His hands twitched nervously so he shoved them in his trouser pockets.
   'Very well. I understand,' she said at last and Perry's hopes rose. 'But everyone will stay behind for ten minutes to make up for all the time you wasted with your elaborate display.' The whole class groaned as one and glared at Perry as he made his way back to his chair. The only person who didn't seem to mind was Gregory, who was still drawing eyes even though his pen had run out of ink.


By the time they were let out of class most of the other students were already in the cafeteria. The rest of his class hurried off eager to meet their friends. Perry headed in the opposite direction. He never ate in the cafeteria; he had no one to sit with. Instead he found an empty classroom and hoped that any teachers that found him would have enough mercy to let him stay. Today he chose a classroom that was as far away from the rugby field as possible. He ended up in the Geography department and found comfort in the maps that covered the walls. The world was so big that surely he couldn't be the only person on it that could see scary things for no reason. Right?
He settled into a chair and pulled out his lunch. Tuna sandwiches on brown bread as usual. He had only taken one bite when he heard footsteps echoing down the corridor. Busted already. He waited for a teacher to burst in and tell him to get out and 'play with his friends'. The footsteps got louder and louder, faster and faster, and flew right past the classroom. Surprised, Perry put down his sandwich and crept towards the door. He opened it carefully and winced at its loud creaking. He left it a few seconds before he dared to look down the corridor. His stomach flipped at what he saw.
At the end of the corridor, closer than Perry had ever seen him before, was the red-faced man. He looked even more terrifying up close. His flesh had peeled off leaving raw slices of bloody muscle. His face was still stretched into the lipless grin and Perry counted more sharp teeth than any normal human should possess. He had no skin around his nose either, only two festering holes. The red-faced man's black sockets stared endlessly at a girl Perry had never seen before.
She was unlike any of the other girls at school. She looked around Perry’s age but was at least three inches tall than him. She was wearing a pair of scruffy jeans, an old band t-shirt, and her dark hair was tied into a messy ponytail. She stood only a couple of feet away from Perry, staring hard at the red-faced man. Perry's heart stopped.
Someone else could see him.


Perry jumped as the girl spoke.
   ‘What are you?' Her voice was loud and strong. If Perry had ever spoken to the red-faced man it would have come out in a squeak.
The red-faced man didn't reply, which only seemed to make the strange girl angrier.
   'I said what are you?'
To Perry’s shock, the red-faced man glanced at Perry, his empty sockets boring into him. His grin lengthened across his face, revealing even more sharpened teeth. He looked back at the girl and Perry instantly knew something was wrong. He took no chances. He raced down the corridor and barrelled into the girl. They both went crashing into an empty classroom just as the red-faced man thundered past. Before he could turn around, Perry slammed the door and began pushing tables and chairs in front of it. He was just about to add another chair to the pile when the girl yelled at him.


Lenore Scribe resisted the urge to give her dad the finger as he drove off in his new BMW. She knew she was supposed to love her dad and all but he made it so difficult. Why should she love him when he clearly didn't love her? She shrugged her backpack onto her shoulder and stormed up to Manor House College before she got herself riled up.
If there was one thing worse than parents it was school, especially a new school.
She listened patiently as Headmaster Brocklehurst explained all of the school rules and how rule breaking would not be tolerated. She pretended to care when a clearly bored older student showed her around the different departments of Manor House College. But she didn't even try to hide her anger when a huge guy, at least three years older than her, rammed into her and scoffed 'Newbie.'
Instead she turned around and elbowed him in the gut.
This time she did pay attention to what Headmaster Brocklehurst had to say.
   'Miss Scribe you should watch yourself, especially considering your short stature. The corridors can become crowded and we never resort to violence here.'
Lenore resented being called small, petite, tiny, or cute. What she lacked in size she made up for in strength. Which was probably why she ended up in so many fights. She didn't let Headmaster Brocklehurst know that, though.
   'Headmaster I'm so sorry,' she said, forcing fake tears to swell in her eyes. 'I just reacted, you know how it is being a new girl, there’s so much drama and it can be so hard.' Lenore sniffed loudly.
Headmaster Brocklehurst nodded, his face flushing pink. He awkwardly handed her a tissue which she blew her nose into noisily.  Then the bell for lunch rang making even Headmaster Brocklehurst jump.
   ‘Well, as long as you don’t let it happen again, you’re free to go to lunch, Miss Scribe.’  
   ‘Thank you, Headmaster Brocklehurst, I’ll be good from now on.’
As soon as she left his office Lenore let her tears dry. Maybe being a petite little girl had its advantages after all.


Lenore had thought about simply eating her lunch in the toilets, where she wouldn’t be disturbed, but she knew she had to be strong at school. You couldn’t show weakness otherwise they would tear you apart. She held her head up high as she entered the dining hall prepared for all gawking. She quickly scanned the room. The whole of the school’s population was crowded under one roof, including the staff. She had no idea where to sit. Each table was already packed with big groups of students. There were big, beefy boys in sports gear and Lenore recognised the huge guy from earlier. Figured he was a rugby player. There were groups of kids with their text books out doing extra science and maths equations; and a group of girls crowded together but all on their phones, totally ignoring each other.  Lenore didn’t think she would fit in with any of them. In the far corner she spotted a single empty table. A safe haven. She was about to hurry over when a hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. Lenore looked at the dainty hand that clung to her with a death grip, the painted nails digging into her skin. She switched her gaze to the owner of the hand. Blond hair, perfect make-up, and a smile that was more predatory than it was friendly. 
   ‘Hey, I’m Cathy and you’re the new girl right, Eleanor, is it?’ The girl’s smile gleamed brightly.
   ‘Lenore actually.’
   ‘Right, right. So, my girls and I were thinking you could sit with us. You look pretty lonely.’ Cathy widened her highly mascaraed eyes sympathetically.
Lenore looked to the two other girls. They both smiled and nodded. Lenore didn’t feel at ease. Lenore didn’t want to sit with them then she remembered what her Dad had said to her the day before. Something like, ‘try to make friends at this school, and for once in your life be normal’. She’d resented that. She had been normal, it was everything else around her that had been weird. Cathy’s grasp on her wrist tightened. 
   ‘Thanks that would be great,’ Lenore quickly agreed.
Cathy’s grip loosened and Lenore pulled herself free. Little half-moon shapes were etched into her wrist. She set her bag down on the floor and pulled out her lunch, very aware that all three girls were watching her intently.
   ‘Sorry, what were your names again?’ Lenore asked awkwardly.
   ‘She’s Jay,’ Cathy said pointing to the girl with long curly black hair. ‘And she’s Liz,’ she said as the girl with dead straight mousey brown hair wiggled her fingers in greeting.
   ‘Can’t they talk or something?’
   ‘Of course they can, silly,’ Cathy said, once again speaking for them. ‘So Eleanor-’
   ‘Right, right. Lenore, whatever. What’s your story?’
   ‘My story?’
Lenore’s tummy twisted. How could they know about that?
   ‘Yeah, you know, where’d you live? What do your parents do? Any hot older siblings?’ At this all three girls burst into giggles. Lenore sagged in relief, they didn’t know after all.
   ‘I live up near the woods, Fay Grove.’
Cathy let out a gasp.
   ‘Fay Grove? Wow, you must be minted.’
   ‘I guess.’
   ‘If you’re so rich, why are you wearing that?’ Jay finally spoke.
Lenore looked down at her old torn at the knee jeans and the Stones t-shirt that used to belong to her mum. She was about to ask what was wrong with her outfit when she saw it.
A man stood by the dining hall doors. Not just any man. His lips were torn back to reveal deadly sharp teeth. The flesh around his nose had peeled away leaving only twisted holes instead of nostrils. And even though his sockets were empty he was definitely staring straight at her. The worst was the colour of his skin. It was a red like freshly spilt blood.
She wasn’t surprised that no one else could see this horrific man, they never could. Cathy, Jay, and Liz were all watching her, waiting for her to defend her choice of clothing.
   ‘Sorry, I gotta go.’ She leapt from the table, not fussed by the three girls’ cries of surprise.
Lenore turned back to the dining hall doors. The man was gone. She rushed through them into the corridor; he was still nowhere to be seen. Outside of the dining hall the school was silent, her trainers squeaked as she hurried down the locker lined corridor, peering into empty classrooms. The man couldn’t have gone far, he had to be near. She raced down more corridors, getting lost in all the twists and turns. This time Lenore sensed him before she saw him. She whipped around to see the red-faced man stood at the far end of the corridor, blocking her off from the rest of the school.
The skin around his teeth stretched taut and Lenore knew he was smiling. She faced him head on and took a deep breath.
   ‘What are you?’ she demanded. The red-faced man did nothing.
   ‘I said what are you?’ His empty gazed seemed to flicker to something behind her. Before she could do anything, something barrelled into her abdomen forcing all the air out of her lungs. She and the thing tumbled backwards together into an unused classroom.


   'What the hell, man!' she exploded.
Perry took a couple of steps back, afraid she was going to hit him.
   'Sorry,' he muttered. 'It's just that, well, you were in danger.' Even he knew that sounded lame. He resisted the urge to hang his head. He wanted at least one person in this school to take him seriously. To his surprise the girl didn't laugh.
   'Wait, danger. You saw that man too?'
Perry's brain did a double take. Millions of thoughts flooded his mind and he tried to say them all at once resulting in a single word that sounded like 'blerugha'.
   'Calm down,' the girl said. 'I'm Lenore.'
   ‘A new girl?'
   ‘Yeah, and you are?'
   'Perry. Perry Prince.' He held out his hand then smoothed back his curly hair instead. Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice.
   'Perry, cool.' Lenore was silent for a while, like she was trying to work out what was going on. Perry was finding everything just as weird.
   'So you can see that red-faced man, too.'
   'Yeah, every day for the past month.'
   'A month? And he follows you around like this?'
Perry shuffled uncomfortably, unsure whether this girl Lenore was making fun of him or not.
   'Well, I used to just seem him standing around; I’ve never seen him move before.’
Now he really expected Lenore to burst out laughing. Call him Paranoid Perry, just like everyone else. Instead she simply nodded.
   'And that's why you rugby tackled me in here because you thought he was coming for me?'
Perry nodded and smiled sheepishly, still expecting her to bed mad. Instead she was moving the table and chairs away from the door, which was much worse.
   'Hey, what are you doing? He could still be out there!'
   'We have to go out some time,' she said simply as she reached for the door handle.
   'And what are you going to do once you're out there? Just stare him away?' Perry asked in a sudden burst of confidence.
   'I guess we'll find out.'
The door swung open and Lenore stepped out into the corridor. Perry held his breath. Nothing happened. He stepped out next to her. The corridor was completely empty. Just then the bell rang and hundreds of students flooded the corridors. 
The red-faced man was nowhere to be seen.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Creative Writing Lectures

Four weeks in and lectures are in motion, and now that I've not got the flu and my cough is subsiding (somewhat) I can fully enjoy them. 

Advance Fictional Writing is exactly how it sounds. I feel that it's repeating a lot of the stuff I learnt in first year. While it is handy, it's also boring. I know about character now, with all my character profile sheets, I really know about character. Plot, structure, setting and dialogue are all second nature to me now and it's not interesting to listen to it all again.
Luckily, that's not all that is involved in the lecture. The other part includes a talk about marketing and publishing. This is more interesting as it is about what to do after you have written your masterpiece. It's also interesting because I have considered going into marketing before and part of me wouldn't mind being an editor, either. So that's always something to look into.
BBC's adaptation of Fingersmith
The most annoying this about this lecture is the reading list. They didn't post it until after the summer so I had no idea we even had to read anything. It now means that for the past four weeks I have been struggling to catch up, and finish the books we were meant to have for lecture a week late. For example, we were supposed to have read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters for Tuesday the 9th of October and I only just finished it today. I have another book to read by this Tuesday coming as well. However, this one is a lot shorter so I will probably manage it, for once. That's another thing, these books aren't even short, they're like 500 pages long. Even for me that's rough!
The final part of the lecture involves work shopping our creative pieces. As I missed the first lecture due to flu I was a little behind. Everyone already has ideas and at least 500 words. My mind is so focused on my ECP at the moment that I hadn't given a thought to all the other creative pieces I would have to do. But then it occurred to me, I could use this lecture as an opportunity to start my Margaret Jones novel. So on Tuesday I took the beginnings of the story in and my group seemed to like it. They even laughed and were surprised when I said she would stumble upon a drug lord's stash. Hopefully my lecturers will like it as much.
So overall, out of ten I would give Advanced Fictional Writing a six. Interesting, but not too inspiring.

My second lecture of the week is Writing-History-Fiction. Yes, written like that. Supposedly it means different things to if it was written Writing History Fiction. This is the lecture I look forward to most in the week. Not because of the topic or content but because it is the only lecture in which I have friends. It totally makes up for the fact that it's rather boring. I think the main problem is that I suck at history. I know nothing about it. And honestly, don't really care. Don't get me wrong, I find some parts really fascinating but they're not something I want to write about. Actually, I have no idea what I want to write about. I only chose this module because I thought my boyfriend would finally read something I wrote and like it, as he studies History at the university. Another problem is my lecturer, bless her. She's not technology savvy, like most lecturers, but she insists on using it. She sounds like Professor McGonagall but acts like Professor Trelawney. I think that says it all. And the books! The books are even worse than Advanced Fictional Writing. I've already mentioned Wolf Hall before, but my God, I just cannot read it.
Out of ten, this module receives a seven. All right, but my friends make it much better.

My last module of the week (I only have three this year, as I have my ECP) is Comic Books and Graphic Novels. It sounds like it is going to be lots of fun, and over the summer I really got into comic books. But I actually find it rather tedious. My lecturer is nice enough but he's so airy fairy and laid back. There doesn't seem to be any structure. On Friday we watched the first 20 minutes of the 1960's Batman movie with Adam West, which by the way is totally ridiculous. It is fun, I just wonder about the money I'm spending on tuition fees to watch Batman. That makes me sound like such a spoilsport.
The one style of writing I was glad to give up was scriptwriting, and guess what, comic book writing is pretty much just like scriptwriting. I'm dreading the creative piece. The first assignment was a choice between an essay, Is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns a successful novel? or a parody of Batman. Everyone has chosen to do the parody, but I'm so anxious about it that I chose to the essay. That might have also been a bad choice. I worked out that I haven't written an essay since the Textual Intervention II piece back in March. (You remember  I aptly named it the Worst Essay Ever.) Anyway, that was eight months ago! This essay is certainly going to be a challenge.
For this module I give it a seven out of ten. Enjoyable, yet flat.

Overall this term isn't too inspiring. I think I may just knuckle down with my ECP, which reminds me, I have a meeting with my ECP supervisor tomorrow about it. I sent her the first 3,000 words. I really hope she likes it, or at least has something constructive to say. Finger's crossed.