Thursday, 14 July 2016

Seven by seven by seven

One of the writing prompts I've found that's quite useful if you want to kick start a writing session, is the 7x7x7 prompt.

Basically, you go to your bookshelf. Select the seventh book on it, turn to the seventh page and find the seventh sentence. Use that sentence to start your writing...

Last night, we used this expanded idea at NIBS, our little creative writing group. Our theme was simply - SEVEN.

Our starter was to take 'seven' and do what we wanted with it. Could be a seven-line things...a thing associated with seven... Basically it was left wide open to the writers. As you'd expect, the variety of pieces after 15 minutes writing was huge; some took the letters of the word 'seven' to start each line of a five line poem. One person started from 'seven days' and multiplied the seven up and up and up, finding something that each multiple represented (like 42 days equals 6 weeks, the length of the school holidays).  Another began with 7Up, the drink, and passed through all sorts of associations until it came full circle back to where it stated, with 7Up...

My own little piece was based around stuff going on at home at the moment:

Seven rucsacs in the hall, belonging to just three people.
Seven Lindt chocolates left when a moment again there were eight. Squidgeling T?
Seven o'clock on the alarm - a veritable lie-in!
Seven veils of housework and routine...peel away the layers to find the dancer underneath.
Seven pots in the garden planted with summer colour.
Seven steps on the ladder to the revamped tree house.
Seven more shirts to iron...then no more until September.

We moved on from that to choosing one of three options, again linked to the number seven. Seven sisters (the cliffs or the water maidens of myth), the seven deadly sins, or seven NEW wonders of the world. They all sounded like fairly wide options with plenty of scope, but boy, did some of us struggle!

You know that sense of having a germ of an idea, but it just won't gel? And you end up crossing more out than you leave in? At least half of the group felt that way and didn't get very far at all. The other half, though were on a roll! There was a piece written with a lovely child's voice for seven new wonders, but the most outstanding piece started with the idea of the seven sisters paddling in the sea...which became the cliffs...which were a sign of hope - perhaps - to those seeking refuge on our shores. Very, very powerful and a lovely blending and linking of a mixture of images and themes into a cohesive whole.

My piece was one of the ones that didn't work. I had wanted to write about the seven NEW wonders, and thought it might be fun to write about them as wonders introduced by an alien race...but it went nowhere fast. So I gave up on it.

And you know what? It's OK to give up on something sometimes. I'm not going to flog myself over it, trying to force the idea to take shape. Perhaps I've captured enough of it to make it into something in the future, but for now, I'll turn the page.

So we moved on to the final part of the evening. I couldn't be sure everyone would remember to bring their seventh book, so I took a bagful of books with me, picked up from all over my house. Some were fiction, some non-fiction (Trinny and Susannah's What Not to Wear for eg!) and once everyone had chosen a book, we took the seventh page or seventh chapter and found the seventh sentence. We all got on a lot better with this prompt anyway, fuelled by the wide variety on offer.

Once again, I had an idea from the sentence 'He trailed bits of bark and soil as he crossed the room.' Unfortunately it faltered before I had time to finish it, but what little I did write took on a bit of a spooky/horror direction. I've edited it slightly, but here's where I got up to;

Jessum trailed bits of of bark and soil as he crossed the room.

Amara backed away, her hand pressed over her mouth to push the scream back down. The marks on the step should've stopped him! Certainly the cut on her thumb throbbed with the memory of its creation and the use to which it had been put. But then Amara saw the fine drizzle through the open door and the damp cat sitting where she'd painted the sigil...the sigil that was now blurred and smudged.

Jessum lurched a step closer and the grave-stink hit her then; peaty and meaty and rotten. 

"A...mmm...arrrrr...aahhhh..." A single wriggling maggot fell from his lips with her name. He reached out, the movement slow and stiff in death.

A sob escaped her then. "I'm sorry, Jessum! There weren't nothing I could do!"

And that's where it finished, because I hadn't decided what Amara had done to cause Jessum's death and why he'd come back for her or what would happen next! But it's a start. Of what, I've no idea, but it's a start. Keeps the words flowing, which is good as I've started to write notes for The Crystal Keeper's Daughter, my new WIP, in which you'll be introduced to a young lady called Zanni...

In the meantime, it's holiday season here so posts may be a little thinner on the ground than normal - expect HUGE ones when I get back around mid-August! Don't forget to take your copy of StarMark on your hols, or to enter the summer reading competition, and I'll catch up with you all soon!

Not officially 'on my holiday' yet, so here's
me and StarMark in my garden instead!

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