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A Creative Workshop Story

November 7, 2019
mandyevebarnett


 

I attended a creative workshop a couple of Saturday’s ago held by my writer’s group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. The topics were POV and plot lines. We had several warm up exercises and an explanation of the various POV types and the variety of plot structure methods. Then with a timed exercise of twenty minutes, we had to write a short story using those techniques but with a title and a genre picked from a bowl. My title was Clue of the Painted Hand in a children’s book style. Although the last couple of paragraphs were added later, I think I did pretty well to have characters, plot, and a beginning, middle and finally an end!

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Clue of the Painted Hand

Daisy pulled at her mother’s hand as they entered the library. It was her favorite place. Books let her escape to other worlds and made her feel less lonely. An only child, Daisy looked like a mini replica of her mother – blonde, brown eyes and slim -the only difference was the flower shaped birthmark on her right cheek. The reason she was called Daisy.

As usual there were lots of people in the library browsing book shelves and she saw a small huddle of younger children were listening to story time. Daisy felt too old for the short picture book stories and felt proud her reading age was ten years old, more than her real age of seven. She surpassed most of her school class mates in reading.

She looked over to see her mother talking to a friend so made her way to the book shelves in her favorite section – mystery adventure. Daisy loved jigsaw puzzle when she was younger, solving the patterns to create a whole picture. Now it was the same with stories. She would figure out the answer to the clues in the narrative before the end, most of the time.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, Daisy ran her fingers across the book spines reading the titles. If one interested her, she took it out and read the explanation on the back. One by one she piled up books beside her. She could take out ten books and always finished them before the next Saturday. One book pulled another off the shelf and Daisy dropped them on the floor. As she lay down to grab one from under the shelf her fingers encountered another book shoved under the wooden base. After several tries she prised a dusty old book from under the shelf. It was an old book, its cover tattered and dusty. Daisy used her sleeve to wipe the dust off the cover. The title was immediately interesting – Clue of the Painted Hand. Oh this looks good, she thought. Turning the book over and opening it, she realized there was no library stamp of barcode. How long has it been there? Looking side to side, Daisy felt a real thrill – a book I can keep! A shiver of excitement and guilt went through her young body. No-one would know, she could put it in her coat pocket without anyone seeing. Her curiosity could wait no longer; opening the first page a map covered the first two pages. As she traced her finger over the markings and named streets, she recognized one – Hampton Avenue, where she lived. How could a book hidden under a shelf have a map of her town?

“Daisy, are you ready to go?”

Her mother’s voice startled Daisy and she quickly put the book in her pocket before picking up her selected library books. With the books scanned, they returned to the car. Daisy kept her excitement to herself but raced upstairs as soon as they arrived home. Now I can read the clues and find whatever treasure there is. It only took an hour to read the book. It told the story of an old Jack in the Box made by a master toymaker, who lived in the town many years before. His shop sign was a painted hand. This particular Jack in the Box had a musical mechanism and a doll instead of a jack, which popped up. Daisy read the clue, traced the map’s tracks and realized the location of the box was in the play ground behind her house.

She walked through the back garden, through the gate and counted steps just like the map said – one, two, three – until she reached twenty-five steps. Standing beside an overgrown old fountain, she pulled ivy and weeds away. The instructions said there was a secret detail to push in sequence. Daisy brushed away dirt and old leaves to find the stone carved like a bunch of daisies. She pressed the first petal it did not move, then another. Gradually, she discovered the petals that did move and marked them with a thumbprint. Now how do I press them in the right order? She sat down cross-legged and looked at the stone decoration. It was a posy of daisies, the stems long and disappearing into the weeds. Maybe I should pull these weeds out as well. Her thought propelled her into action. The flower stems were encased in a stone vase decoration with faint lettering on it. After rubbing the grime off with her sleeve, the words were clearer. A riddle! How exciting.

I’m at the peak

Then to the right

Follow me to the base

And reach to the left

A final center will release

Daisy read the riddle three times then pressed the loose petals, top, right, left, bottom and center. A grating sound alerted her to something moving. The vase shape pushed forward to reveal a void. Sitting in it was a dusty square box. With nervous excitement, Daisy pulled it out of its hiding place and wiped it clean. She knew her mother would be upset with all the dirt on her clothes but the treasure was worth it. Gently, she wound the handle on the side of the box until the lid burst open to reveal a beautiful blonde doll, head to one side holding a book and smiling. Music started to play and the doll’s head moved side to side just like if she was reading. This is so beautiful, she looks a little like me. Blowing gently she rid the doll and its book of a layer of dust. That’s when she saw the title of the book – Daisy the Adventurer. It is me! How can that be? Another mystery for me to solve but maybe I will need mother’s help. With great care, Daisy pushed the stone vase back into place, pulled the ivy and weeds back over the fountain and walked home cradling her treasure.

I hope you liked it. 

Which plot method do you think I used? Story map, Story Flow Chart or Story Mountain?

 

Writing Prompt for Ask a Question Thursday

August 29, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Several people enjoyed the button prompt, so today’s question is:

What story comes to mind with this image? Use 69 words or less.

Here is my interpretation:

The streets lay deserted and dirty. The last flickering of an advert splashed against the buildings husk. Nature will encroach to claim back what is rightfully hers, once again. The structures will house animals and insects and plants will flourish as the cement and steel crumble and rust.

Please comment below and share your story.

Ask a Question Thursday & Writing Prompt

August 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Today’s question is by way of an exercise to inspire the writing Muse. I hosted my writing group’s meeting on Tuesday and used a bag of multiple buttons as a 10 minute writing prompt. There were hundreds of buttons in various colours, styles and shapes. Each participant choose one to three buttons and then had to use them in one of the following ways.

  1. Describe the button in as much detail as possible.
  2. Tell a story of the garment the button came off and the person it belonged to.
  3. Give the button(s) personalities to match their appearance and tell a story about them.

The result was a variety of stories, each with individual ideas stemmed from the chosen button(s).

So today’s question is: you can use the photo herewith and pick a button or two or pick out buttons of your own and tell their story. I would love to read your stories – so comment below.

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I will share one of my stories as the other one is not complete.

My Perfect Doll

Adeline picked up the purple button,  a tear running down her cheek.

“Poor Sandy, your beautiful coat is ruined.”

Picking up her favorite blonde haired doll, Adeline ran downstairs calling for her mother.

“Mummmmeeee….” the last syllable became a long whine, as she ran through the living room into the kitchen. The room was filled with the aroma of chocolate cookies.

“Mummy…”

“Oh my goodness, whatever is the matter?”

“Sandy’s coat is ruined – look. Now she isn’t perfect.”

She held up the doll dressed previously to perfection and opened her clasped hand to reveal the large purple button.

“Well, I wouldn’t say she is ruined, darling. It’s just a matter of sewing it back on.”

Adeline’s tears stopped and she looked up at her mother full of hope.

“Really, you can mend it?”

“Yes, of course I can. Sit here and have a nice warm cookie, I I get my sewing box. Sandy’s coat will be as good as new in no time.”

Comforted by her mother’s words, Adeline took a cookie and watched fascinated as the button was sewn back onto the doll’s coat.

“There all perfect again, I love you Sandy. And thank you Mummy.”

Her mother shook her head as Adeline disappeared back upstairs. I really need to teach her not everything has to be just so or prefect. She turned to the kitchen counter and began cleaning the counter top, every inch was meticulously scrubbed.

 

 

 

Schedule for a 7 day Writing Retreat

June 11, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Road trips have become a regular occurrence since I came to live in Canada. I have been given the gift of an awesome friend, Linda, who enjoys the open road and finding new places and experiences. We leave the main highways and travel the back roads discovering hamlets, small towns and wildlife. Most of our trips are long weekends but this week we incorporated a book fair event into our plans and are making a week long trip to explore new places.

Having new experiences, meeting new people and discovering places and scenery we would not otherwise know about, fuels the writing muse. Due to the length of our trip this time I made a list of writing projects I would like to complete. Possibly wishful thinking but with a plan in place it gives me a goal. So this is the schedule, although in which order they are accomplished is open to how I am feeling at the time.

  1. Edit a fellow author’s manuscript.
  2. Revise WIP – Rython Legacy with fellow author’s editing suggestions.
  3. Complete an animal rescue story for submission to an anthology.
  4. Continue writing my steampunk story, The Commodore’s gift.
  5. Revise social media format/posts/branding.

Our trip so far (we left early on Sunday morning) has seen new places and the sighting of five bears! We also met a wonderful author by chance when we decided on an impromptu lunch in a small hamlet. We will visit local libraries and book stores on our travels as well because life is so much better with books.

When you open up yourself to new experiences you find abundance and food for the Muse.

Do you create a writing retreat/vacation writing schedule?

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The event we will be attending is below, if you happen to be traveling that way. Find me & Linda on the Dream Write Publishing table.


Summer Oldstice  Saturday 15th June
Host: Uptowne Olds
Description: Summer Oldstice Street Festival. Artists, Musicians, Performers, Bakers, Growers, Food Service vendors, handicrafters and more! 
Location: Uptowne Olds – 10 am – 4 pm

Ask A Question Thursday

May 16, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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So it seems it’s been a week of delays! Here is the question of the week.

 Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

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My answer: My current WIP is a steampunk novel and the initial scene in it is of a dream I had. It was so dramatic I knew I needed to use it somewhere.

Last week’s question: When creating your stories, do you tend to write your protagonist as the same gender as yourself – or do you use the genre dynamic as a device?

My answer: I do not have a particular gender I write about but in my novel, Life in Slake Patch I purposely used a young male protagonist due to the basic theme of the book – a matriarchal society and a young man’s life within it.

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