Last week I attended the first of a series of five Creative Writing for Carers workshops at the local College, with the aim of to making this (and other) blogs more interesting.
We learnt about 'clusters': a sort of spider of connections. To inspire us, our tutor Ann laid some pictures on a table for us to chose one on and to write one word to describe it, in the middle of a piece of paper.
I chose a newly-made rustic loaf of bread, with knife and butter alongside and wrote 'bread' in the middle of the paper.
The idea is to draw branches out from that word with associations relating to that word. In my case I wrote 'tasty', 'aromatic', 'well-bred', 'Italian' (I thought it was foccaccia bread), 'tea time' and others.
Then we were asked to look at the array of words around the edge and write words associated with this new group of words. For instance, from 'tea time' I could have written 'tea pot', 'Earl Grey', 'everything stops for tea', 'bread and butter' and 'builders' tea'. This could lead to other words, perhaps not even relating to the original subject - the more obscure the better perhaps!
Ann then suggested that we pause, take a look at just part of our 'clusters' and perhaps a story of some sort could come from one or two of the ideas.
We were then asked to write a couple of paragraphs, based on part of our 'clusters' and, if we wished, read them back to the group. My story related to the 'well bred' part of the cluster which, as you can see, was nothing to do with the original 'bread' word!
Our homework is to look the first lines of books we had read. I have chosen the following.
"Mary Gwendoline Hettie May Gill stopped my hand in mid-air as I reached for the red and gold teapot, and took it herself from the woodburning range" (Sea Stories of Cornwall by Ken Duxfield)
This tells us so much about the setting that we can begin to imagine the rest of the scene and are keen to get on to the rest of the story.
Another one is "Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree" (The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett).
And also "The decision to bomb the office of the radical Jew lawyer was reached with relative ease" (The Chamber by John Grisham).
Someone once said that everyone has a book in them. In that case Ten Tips you need to know for Self-publishing may be extremely useful: http://www.mywritingblog.com/