Friday, 16 November 2012

Writing History Fiction - Little Snippets

The module I'm find least inspiring this term is Writing History Fiction. I'm not sure whether it's because the subject is boring, the set texts are boring, the lecturer is boring, or I'm just awful at history, but the whole thing is just tiresome. Right now I should be writing my creative piece as well as researching for my essay, both of which make me feel bored. I go to the lecture and just want to fall asleep (although that might have something to do with the fact that I always go out the night before). However, we have done a few interesting writing tasks during lectures. 

The first one was writing an opening sentence that would hook a reader as well as letting them know that it was a historical piece. Here was mine:

Andrew Walker knew that a decent woman would not have known how to do that. 

Surprisingly, I got a few laughs for this. It's not too historical but because I used the phrase 'decent woman' it sounds a little old fashioned.

The second task was to write a short piece that began with speech which is later on repeated. This was in relation to Wolf Hall, as that begins with Thomas Cromwell's dad beating him and saying 'So now get up.' which he says again later. It also had to be in historic present, which basically means present tense, but because it happens in the past it's historic, if that makes sense? 

'You're dead.'
Frank stumbles through the door of the Anderson shelter and falls onto the damp cot. His breath comes in short, sharp bursts, his heart is pounding in his chest. 
'If this was a real air raid, you'd be dead,' his dad tells him. 'You have to be in here in less than a minute. None of this dawdling business.'
Frank finally catches his breath and opens his mouth to reply but his dad is already walking away, making sure the shelter door is securely locked. 
He doesn't mind if his dad thinks he is a dawdler, he was slow for a reason. Opening his jacket, Frank peers in. The little kitten nestled inside stares back at him and meows weakly. 

I thought that story was quite cute. Whether it full fills the brief is another matter. It's hard to write well in the ten minutes or so they give you in lecture. 

The last task was to write a piece where someone walks in someone who is upset. These task are all pretty random, but this one was inspired by Wolf Hall yet again. There is a scene when someone walks in on Thomas Cromwell when he is all teary eyed over a book his dead daughter used to own. It would be emotional, but I really hate the book.

Gillian pushed on the kitchen door, it swung open easily. James was already sat at the table, his head lowered, narrow shoulders shaking. Gillian stepped into the room, unsure whether to let him know she was there or not. The longer she waited the more pronounced the silence grew. She padded quietly over to him and it was only once she was stood behind him did she see the tear-stained letter in his hands. Her soft gasp finally alerted James to her presence. He started and crumpled the letter in his fist. His eyes, red from crying, darted guiltily. 
'I'm sorry,' he sniffled.
Gillian cast her eyes over the table. Torn apart roughly, was the letter addressed to her. The return address made her heart stop.
She held out her hand, 'Give it to me.'
James gently unfolded the letter, smoothing it out on the table, before passing it to her with trembling hands.
'Mother...' he sobbed. Tears streamed down his cheeks and a glistening trail ran from his nose.
Gillian scanned the letter. The first line was enough to make her knees buckle. 
Mrs Stanely, we regret to inform you that your husband, Howard Stanely, has died in combat...
She couldn't read any more. She dropped the letter to the floor and collapsed into a kitchen chair. She opened her arms and welcomed James's embrace. 
They mourned in the kitchen together.

Obviously, when doing historical writing a lot of research is needed. I'm not sure what the condolence letters would have said, so for this task I just made it up. I think out of the three tasks my favourite is the second, only because it features a kitten. 
For two of these tasks I wrote about war time, as it's the only sort of history I partially know. Yet for my final creative piece I'm writing about the 1600's and witches. God knows that's going to require a tonne of research! Hopefully I will be more inspired by the time I write because I am really not feeling it at the moment and the creative piece is due in three weeks. Aaaaah!

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