Yesterday was the third meeting of Lowestoft Library Teen Writing Group. Five girls came along; four regulars and a new girl. Slowly, their confidence is building and they're becoming more talkative, which is nice to see (even though the conversation does go off at odd tangents sometimes - one topic we touched on yesterday was what would happen if a goat mated with a chicken. The result would be a delicious, bi-meated animal, that laid eggs and also produced milk. One animal; one meal!)
I set three pieces of homework last session. The main part was to bring along a page of a story they had previously written. I will be using these in a future activity. Secondly was to think of a name for the group. No-one could think of anything, and I'm always pretty unimaginative when it comes to names, but I guess I'll have to put my thinking cap on for this one. Lastly was to write a character profile. No-one did that; myself included. I have no excuse, other than I've been spending so much time getting my NaNoWriMo novel written that I haven't had much time to write anything else.
So we got down to the business of writing, and the task was a game of consequences. There are various versions of this game, but as we only have an hour to write, I limited it to six sections. Each person writes one section on a piece of paper, folds it over, and passes it to their right. Everyone then writes the second section, folds it over, and passes it to their right. This is repeated until all sections have been written.
- Man - who is he? name/age/job/hobbies/appearance
- Woman - who is she? name/age/job/hobbies/appearance
- Place - where is it? building/event/institution
- He says
- She says
- What happens in the end
Everyone ended up with the piece of paper they started with. Mine looked something like this:
ManTed is 40 years old. He's overweight but not to the point of obesity; he just gets out of breath walking up stairs. He's unemployed and spends most of his time playing World of Warcraft and eating Pringles.WomanA student of art, she is profound and unique. She favours fashion, but hides it and paints instead. Her name, Emma, is that of her grandmother's. When she paints, it covers her hands and face and sticks her brown hair together in clumps.PlaceThe man meets the woman when he was working. He was a vending machine workman and he got stuck whilst trying to dislodge a Twix bar from the twirly thing. She saw him and freed him.He saysWhen they first meet he doesn't speak to her with spoken words, but in a letter, and signing it as your mystery man.She saysThe woman frowns. "You're mental," she announces.What happens in the endThey both went their separate ways, promising to meet up in a fortnight. But alas! The man got hit by a train on his way to the meeting, killing him instantly. So they never saw each other again.
We then spent the rest of the session each writing a complete story based on or inspired by our own series of events.
On a miserable Wednesday morning, art student Emma skived off college to sit in a graveyard and contemplate the meaning of life. She gazed at the headstones, imagining the lives of the people she stepped over. She stood by Alfred March who'd died when he was only 24 years old, in 1876. She ran her fingers through her long, brown hair, picking out flecks of dried paint and dropping them to the ground like confetti. At lunch time she wandered into town, and paced the streets trying to decide what to eat. Bored of sandwiches and fast food, she wanted something different, exciting. Passing through the shopping centre, she rummages in her bag for her mobile phone. Oblivious to her surroundings, she bumps into a man. "Oh, I'm sorry," she says, looking at the large man in the navy blue overalls. He smiles at her. "Are you ok?" she asks. The man shakes his head. He moves his body to the side and Emma notices that his hand is stuck inside a vending machine. "Do you want some help?" she asks. He nods. "I'm Emma, by the way," she says, smiling at him. With his free hand the man points to a security badge hanging around his neck. Emma lifts it up and reads it, "My name is Ted. I'm an official vending machine repair man. I can't speak but I can hear. Thank you for your cooperation." Ted smiles at Emma. "Nice to meet you Ted. Now let's see what we can do here," Emma says. She leans inside the vending machine and untangles Ted's sleeve from the twirly contraption that holds the chocolate bars in place. She notices that his wrist is bleeding. She takes a tissue from her bag and holds it tightly on the cut. "There you go. You should get that cleaned up though," she says. Ted smiles and bows his head in thanks. He takes a Twix from the vending machine and passes it to Emma. "Oh thank you," she says. He smiles and nods. He puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out a five pound note. He slides it into Emma's hand. "I can't take this," she says, surprised. He holds her fist closed around the money and bows his head in thanks again. "Are you sure?" she asks. He nods. "Thank you," she says. As she walks away, she looks at the five pound note. Wrapped up inside is a small piece of paper. She reads the note. "I have loved you for years but I've never been able to tell you until now, from your secret admirer." She turns and walks back towards Ted. She taps him on the shoulder and he smiles when he turns around. She passes him the note and says, "I don't think this was meant for me." His face flushes red. He drops his face into his hand with embarrassment. He takes the note from her and stuffs it back into his pocket. He shakes his head and smiles. "You're mental," she announces. Ted nods. Emma laughs. Ted takes a notepad from his bag and scribbles; 'I'm going on holiday next week, but would you be free to meet the week after, maybe for a coffee, just to say thank you for helping me and for bringing back my note.' He adds his phone number to the bottom. "Sure, why not?" Emma says. Ted grins and bows his head. "Have a good holiday and I'll see you in a couple of weeks," she says.
Emma sits in the coffee shop at a table by the window. She checks her phone every five minutes, wondering where Ted is. After waiting for half an hour, she picks up her bag and leaves. Driving home, she turns on the car radio and listens to the news. Earlier this morning, Ted Winston, a 40 year old vending machine repair man, was killed after three angry youths pushed him off a busy train platform into the path of an oncoming train. He died instantly.
The homework for next session is to write a story of no more than 500 words, about anything, but it must include at least four of the following words:
I randomly opened a dictionary to various pages to find these words.
Our next meeting is Monday 10th December, 17:00-18:00, at Lowestoft Library.