Week 4 Prose/Fiction

Well a funny start to this week’s Prose/Fiction.My journey to the station started as usual, but I had the additional bargain of getting soaked. Completely lost in thought, thinking about my characters, I discovered I was venturing up the wrong road. On auto route it seemed, off to the shops. I quickly turned around and was back on my way, luckily still in time for the train.

Once arriving at my destination,  I pulled out the soggy train ticket from my pocket. I knew it was going to be trouble. I managed to insert it into the slot and lo and behold, it was chewed up, leaving an amber light, barriers still closed, and me without a ticket. All this and still pouring with rain. I pressed the button on the tannoy, a female voice answered. The barriers  went up and I was through them in a flash. Next obstacle, the steps  were closed off. I stood lost for a few seconds until I noticed there was a disabled access, with a longer route, slightly further up I might add, more hindrance, and more time for me to get a bit wetter. Finally I’m in the dry and meet my friend.

On to Prose / Fiction Session

Well it was a strange one today, it appeared I was having a strange day. Unlike our normal small numbers, we were invaded by at least a dozen prospective MA Creative Writing students. They came to join in with the first part of our seminar. The room was very crowded and I have to admit, although I had no personal grudge against the students being there, I did find it a tad claustrophobic especially when I realised I was pinned behind a desk with no easy way out.

The session today was on Narrative Time.

We discussed:

1:         The difference between story time and narrative time.

Story Time = real time

Narrative Time = length of time it takes to tell.

2:         Dramatised scenes and summary and jumps

Mimesis          real time

Diagesis          condensing time

Elepsis             jumps in time

Focus on the scene – what moves the plot forward

Slow motion technique or suspension

3:         Pace

We looked at pace and how it is used in a ninety minute film – every minute focuses on the story – slowed down for important scenes. The same approach is applied to novel writing. Long vowels such as unfold – luxurious, slows the scene down whereas short vowels provide action.

A writing exercise was given:

Describe a scene in which something violent happens. Create a shift in pace.

I’m not going to post mine but why not have a go yourself and see what you come up with?

4:         Timelines and Structure: We looked at timelines in novels and we were referred to E.M. Forster’s, Aspects of a Novel— definitions of story, plot and mystery: the highest form of plot. (Example: Oedipus story – theme changes according to the order the story is told in.)

This followed with a second writing exercise:

Write a piece in three tenses.

Subject: Someone in deep trouble contemplating their situation. Paragraph one in present tense and real time. Thoughts and feelings may be included but nothing that reveals the cause of their situation or its consequences.

Part 2 should be written in past tense and summary: describe how they ended up here (CAUSE) (Make it interesting by using montage, adding sensory detail and emotion.)

Part 3: Thinking about the future consequences (EFFECT). Need not be written in future or present continuous tenses, but needs to be future focussed.

Again, I’m not going to post mine as I wasn’t happy with it but there’s nothing stopping you having a go.


The prospective students  left the room and the remainder of us discussed The Time Traveller’s Wife. The story sets up a mystery and the summaries are very visual as Audrey Niffenegger uses sensory material.

On page 10, she makes use of an ellipsis (jump) ‘later that evening’ and follows with a montage.

Following this discussion we moved into our small groups to listen to each other’s interior monologues from the assignment last week and feedback was given. I was pleased the way mine went down and the tutor suggested it would make a good radio play. Food for thought. When I have more time I shall re-visit the structure of a radio play and have a go.

Well that’s all really except to say – Things to do by next week:

Write 2000 words or a synopsis of expected end of module writing, so tutor can see writing before tutorial on the 15th.

Write 1000 words on given subject for this week’s homework assignment.

Read Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark which I was sure I’d purchased but now I can’t find anywhere. Fingers crossed I can get on Kindle.














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