York Story Writing Workshop & Story Starter idea


Our guests at the People's Friend Story Writing Workshop, York.

This is a double-header, as they say, combining a quick how-it-went for the People’s Friend story writing workshop yesterday in York, and a Story Starter, too, since it seems a while since I posted one.

So, writer Kate Blackadder and I were dazzled by some of the stories that came out in the written exercises at the workshop, both in the ideas themselves and the styles in which they were written. I so hope those stories get completed and sent to me to share with People’s Friend readers.

As usual the day wouldn’t have been half so enjoyable without our guests taking part the way they do. It’s no small challenge to read bits of your own writing aloud to a room full of people you’ve never met before. Especially when you fear that we’re going to tear it to shreds. We never, ever do, just so’s you know. There’s always merit in what anyone writes. But neither do we oblige anyone; there’s no pointing and “You must read next!” I suffered that too often in Higher French to inflict it on anyone else. It’s all completely voluntary.

We had a lovely sunny day again. I’m really beginning to believe that England simply has better weather than Scotland!

I stayed there the night before (oh, and it was actually raining; I remember now), and the late evening was punctuated not once but twice by the fire alarm. I tell you, you would never sleep through it, if you’ve ever worried about that. Ear-shredding.

False alarm both times, fortunately, but nonetheless we duly evacuated to the car park, early-bedders in their night attire, later night owls still mostly dressed and hastily zipping up jeans.

And I wonder if that mental image could be a Story Starter? Our everyday clothes are a kind of shield, aren’t they? We dress to present a particular image to the world. But what if that shield is exchanged for your PJs, nightdress, bathrobe…Suddenly you’re more exposed, virtually if not literally. Defenceless. What happens if someone doesn’t have time to don their usual sharp suit? Or two people meet and get the wrong impression of each other — or perhaps see each other for who they really are?

And if you need a reminder of how the Story Starter series works, there’s a recap here

Off to Manchester on Monday with Lydia Jones for our final story writing workshop. Will keep you posted.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.

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