Tag Archives: Creative Writing

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS: ‘The Signature Room’

11 Nov

I used to be a Friday Fictioneers regular, but what was intended as a short break soon become a long one.  I thought I would try break the drought with a short story in response to the prompt for this week.  As per usual, the task is to write a complete narrative in 100 words exactly!

The Signature Room

My father saw it as a vanity project.

He refused the title Grandma gave it, labelling it The Signature Room.

I saw colour whirling in time with the whispering wind, and shapes jostling into position as they awaited the arrival of royalty.

I saw windows into unfamiliar worlds, and mirrors reflecting portraits of my reality.

I saw an autobiography, where words were replaced by images, and ink with paint.

After Grandma died I invited my father to sit with me, to see her story.

Three days later a sign appeared on the door: ‘Dora’s Gallery’.

His signature was scrawled beneath.


Subverting Fairy Tales

28 Oct

I have recently read Kissing the Witch (Emma Donoghue), a collection of interlinked short stories which subvert well known fairy tales.

I wish I had read this a little earlier as one of these stories would have been a good addition to a recent lesson sequence about subverting fairy tales.  Inspired by the three tales told by the monster in The Monster Calls, I decided to examine texts that incorporate some fairy tale elements but subvert or challenge others.

To illustrate the point, we engaged with a picture book retelling of The Three Little Pigs and a FANTASTIC short story entitled ‘There Was Once’ by Margaret Atwood.  After this discussing these and making connections to A Monster Calls, I asked students to select a fairy tale and subvert it.

Together we brainstormed some amazing ideas, framing our potential points of challenge or subversion as a series of interlinked questions.

  • What if the bears trespassed in the home owned by Goldilocks?  What if she was home?  What if she had a gun?  New bear skin rug?
  • What if Belle has taken the Beast from the wild?  What if the animal rights advocates found out?
  • What if Pinocchio was a real boy?  And a minority?  And he lied to the police?
  • What if Snow White’s experience of a poisoned apple prompted her to pursue an organic farming venture?
  • What if the witch in Hansel and Gretel was involved in human trafficking?
  • What if Cinderella was told from the perspective of one of the stepsisters?
  • What if Aladdin needed a visa to travel to a whole new world?
  • What if the Emperor was arrested after engaging in public nudity?
  • What if the Princess in The Princess and the Pea did not discover a pea beneath her many mattresses?  What if she discovered a handgun, or drugs?  What if she was undercover detective?

Getting creative!

22 Sep

I am trying to get students to think outside their known universe when writing.  To do this, I want to show them images depicting scenes from various countries and get them to write descriptively about what they see.  I am keen to help them move beyond the mere visual similes and metaphors and, as such, I am asking them to focus on texture and movement.

‘Wrong Channel’

20 Jan

I happened upon ‘Wrong Channel‘, a short story by Roberto Fernandez.  This very short narrative centres upon an error of interpretation.

This would be an interesting narrative to use with students as an example of humour and effective dialogue.

It would also be valuable as a writing prompt, encouraging students to speculate as to what happens next in the narrative.

‘There Was Once’

19 Jan

I recently read an interesting short story by Margaret Atwood entitled ‘There Was Once‘.  In this story the speaker attempts to recount a traditional fairy tale, only to be interrupted by the listener who notes all the politically incorrect elements of the story.

I think this would be an interesting narrative to share with students for a number of reasons:

  • It offers an alternate narrative style
  • It engages with social commentary
  • It offers strong perspectives and voices
  • It offers students permission to think and write outside established categories and stereotypes.

Show rather than tell

26 Aug

We constantly tell our students that, when writing, they must show rather than tell.  I have finally found the perfect video to explain what that looks like!

I want to show this clip to my students, offering them opportunities to find examples of ‘showing’ in a range of short story extracts.  I then want to provide them with examples of ‘telling’ (ideally from earlier drafts of their own writing) and have them transform the ‘telling’ into ‘showing’.

Building Fictional Worlds

20 Aug

I recently stumbled upon Kate Messner’s clip about building fictional worlds.  In this clip she discusses fictional worlds created by others and shares the questions she asks when, as part of her writing process, she builds her own fictional worlds.

I think this would be a useful clip to show my students as it would give them a starting point for their own narratives.

Describe that image!

3 Aug

Sometimes students find it difficult to understand the value of description and imagery as distinct from recount.  To assist them, I want to provide my students with a collection of images/pictures and a selection of descriptions.  Students will then work in small groups to match the images and the descriptions.  I also hope to discuss with my students what aided them to match descriptions to pictures.  Hopefully, through this discussion, students come to the conclusion that descriptions and imagery are valuable because they create vivid pictures in the minds of readers.

Friday Fictioneers: ‘Mask’

12 Jun

As she does each week, Rochelle has issued the Friday Fictioneers community a challenge to write a 100 word story in response to a provided photo prompt.  This time, the prompt is a repeat.  I quite liked the story I wrote the first time, and think my second attempt is stilted and lacks the creativity of the first.  That said, I did enjoy the challenge of having to think about the prompt from a different perspective.


She left me with her children.  Them and me.  For three hours.

We’d talked about this moment, but then it had been hypothetical.

Now, it was real.

What if they don’t like me?  They had to like me – HAD TO – I really like their mum.

I approach them, a nervous grin gracing my weather-worn face.

They stare, unsure.  Then, they consult.

Mia appoints herself spokeswoman: “We don’t like you. Go away.”

I do.

I grab the mask from the box at the top of the wardrobe and wrangle it over my face.

I return.


“Scuba Sam,” I reply.

Friday Fictioneers: ‘Separation’

2 Jun

I thought I would get in early this week.  As per usual, all 100 word stories are written in response to the visual stimulus provided on Rochelle’s blog.  My contribution for this week is below.


After we purchased the land, I began designing our house: a kitchen to accommodate messy family breakfasts, a living room with a sofa on which we could snuggle.

Around this time, he began setting out plans for his shed, a man-cave in which he could escape the dramas of domesticity.

The marriage was rocky and, several years and children later, we treated each other with stony indifference.


In the divorce he was granted the shed at the bottom of the garden.

He lives there now.  Alone.  Away from the drama.  Away from his children.  Missing out on their lives.