A Whisper of Wonder

So these are the two sonnets Maura, Maria, James and Heather came up with. The prompts were ‘wonderful’, ‘hurt’, ‘whispers’ & ‘a tragic love story’. Since we were talking about Yeats earlier in the seminar, we went with the theme of fairies. When it’s finished it’ll be a wee sonnet cycle on the subject of a grove of fairies in the woods, and a young man who, tempted by the sweet music made by the small creatures, finds himself fatally enraptured by one of them. They work sooo much better when read aloud in unison, by the way. Kind of uncanny.

Sonnet I

On the top of the hill the fairies play
Around the flowers they frolic and dance
And beckoning you close, they whisper “stay.”
Unwary travellers may take a chance
Follow the fairies wherever they go
Along the beauty of some ancient tune,
With glittering notes the stars start to glow.
While the sprites soak up the light of the moon
The Seelie Queen sits in her flowered shrine;
Her gentle smile, her sweet benevolence
Her beauty, her love and her kindness shine.
You slowly move forward with hesitance.
What you thought you saw was purer than gold,
But deep in the shadows are stories untold.

Sonnet II

A tale passed down from each father to son,
A warning to all seduced by the call
Who blindly pursue what cannot be won–
The hearts of fairies in love will not fall.
One moonlit night a boy strays from the trail,
Drawn into the trees by enchanting sounds
He walks through and pulls back the willow veil.
Driven by desire he enters their bounds.
The fairest creature of alluring face
Came forth from darkness and ensnared his soul:
The maiden moves and sways with serene grace–
Stunning to see but her heart is a hole.
And now he will dance till the day he dies,
While fairies laugh as their song fills the skies.

Sonnet III

In the deepest, darkest depths of the wood
There is a place to which the fallen go
When their footsteps no longer walk the earth:
A sad and ancient place misunderstood.
Some say it bears the most famous of graves,
A shrine to the fallen sprung up among trees;
A holy space for errant knights and knaves—
Those who met love’s cruel fate among the leaves.
In winter sprites will lay down white roses
As they sing out the sorrows of snowdrops,
Wishing for spring when lovers bring posies
And lovely the sound of all those blood clots:
For what mortal male would stand but a chance
With fairies who spin in such fatal dance?

Sonnet IV

Across the sweeping valleys, fields, and hills
Where children imagine, run, and play
Mothers warned, play out in fields if you will
But never in the faerie woods do stray.
And though they knew to heed their mother’s word
When dancing lights glittered in the darkness
And sweet strains played as they had never heard
The children ran to the shadows’ caress.
Merrily they skipped in time to the charm
There was not one boy or girl left behind
And their parents searched for them in alarm
Though nought but small footprints were there to find.
So never in the faerie woods do stray
For they will happily snatch you away.

Group Micro-Narrative: The Singstar Sleepover


by Lousie, Nina, Harry, Nelly and Alyssa.

My sweaty fingers gripped the microphone.

The darkness in front of me is full of whispers.

A vase on the fireplace smashed to the floor, knocked over by some unseen hand.

“Be careful, my mum is never going to let me have a Singstar sleepover again if we make a mess!”

I cried, squinting my eyes and hoping to see.

I can’t believe my friends are making me sing this abomination of a song infront of everyone.

They think it’s a bit weird to have a Singstar sleepover as a forty-year old man, but they’re humouring me because I just emerged from my 27-year coma and still thinks of myself as a child.

I constantly crave ice cream and sweets and I wake up every morning ready to go to school but the mirror doesn’t reflect my mind.

I wanted to invite the kids from my local primary school as they are more my age but the local authorities would not let me.

So instead I ended up with a group of middle.aged men who decided to spice up the singstar sleepover with several cans of beer, which of course I am not allowed to drink, which means I am the only sober one in the group.

Everyone is finally at the point where they’re not really paying attention to me anymore. I’ve been waiting to bring in the Big Guns all night. Luckily my mum kept her phone number all this time.



Group Micro-Narrative: The Orange

By Maria, Ailsa, Caroline, Kat, Ross, Heather

The diary said that she’d poisoned the orange.

But Jason never saw that detail as he flicked through the pages, he had so little time.

She was waiting for him downstairs.

He was there to seduce her.

He was not successful.

She punched him in the face.

Slowly the nose sank down into the carpet, and out of the sea of blood a dragon emerged.

It roared,flexing its mighty wings and challenged her to a duel.

She asked if he would rather have tea instead.

He agreed and she offered him an orange.

Jason began to question the wisdom of taking LSD

But then, he thought “screw it, dragons are cool”

This is what he wrote on the feedback form supplied by the government, who were conducting experiments on mind control.

So he bit into the orange, including the peel, and at least he found that to be real.

In the government control room, Jason’s body began to spasm and his jaw cracked.

“Increase the dose,” said the scientist.

The dial was turned up and everything exploded.   

Week Nine: Micro Narratives and The Art of Re-writing

We’ve spent a whole month having a crack at writing flash fiction, and so now that we’ve mastered this ‘in-between’ approach to writing (shorter than a novel but not quite a Tweet), I thought we could look at how to write really short writing. It’s especially relevant for the digital age, where we spend so much time reading very short articles and flicking between pages of different information, so that our brains get used to digesting stories quickly.

We’ll be looking at some of the shortest stories ever written, and what sort of effects they achieve. We’ll be having a go at condensing our own micro stories as well as using existing ones for prompts. We’ll also consider how you might put together a ‘Twitter-length’ narrative using 25 words or less, and also writing this way in collaboration.

As well as all this emphasis on writing short short stories, we’ll be looking at the art of re-writing, as in, how you might go about rewriting some of your favourite prose fiction. For this you need to bring in one of your favourite novels and pick a particular page that’s relevant somehow – but there’ll be more info on this on the night.

As always, be sure to have a go at writing some flash fiction from February’s prompts for the ebook anthology we’ll eventually collate, as it will also be a good warm-up for this week’s session! Also in case you haven’t seen, there’s now a ‘Prompt’ page on the blog where you can access a weekly prompt for use in any form of writing (remember to send us what you create!).

For now, check out this selection of authors’ Twitter stories:


See you soon!


*** Word of warning: our block booking at the GUU Elliot Library has sadly come to a close, however we are working on getting a replacement room for the remaining workshops, so stay tuned to find out where it will be! ***


Week 8 Workshop: Fan Fiction and Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Hey all,
So last night we looked at remixing genres in fiction and specifically at how we might go about writing children’s fiction, and the issues with intended audiences, language, pictures and so on. Was really interesting to see how people responded to the same prompts…often with some very stark differences… One thing we agreed on was that children’s lit often tends to have a moral purpose which seems clear to adults but works more unconsciously on the mind of a child, and that it’s difficult to write anything for kids without having Freud hanging over your head.

Anyway, next week’s workshop will delve into very different territory with ‘Fan Fiction and Scenes of a Sexual Nature’. It’s become an annual sort of tradition that we have some kind of ‘erotica’ week, which seems quite appropriate what with all this Fifty Shades of Grey malarkey going about. We’ll be looking at what works and what definitely doesn’t, how to avoid cliches, common tropes in writing fan fiction and of course that obvious link between fan fiction and well, sex scenes. A good place to start might be here for some – shall we say – interesting writing on this topic. Please come along and there might even be wine (feel free to bring your own).

Also, it’s almost the end of February so you still have time to participate in Flash Fiction February. We’re looking for as wide a range a work as possible and it doesn’t have to be perfectly polished – just whatever spills out your head in relation to the prompts! You can find them all on the blog, and you can keep writing them and submitting them throughout March, though there won’t be any new prompts put up so you can go back and write from the ones already up. Eventually they’ll be part of our Flash Fiction February anthology! Remember to use the #flashfictionfebruary tag on twitter to advertise your writing ;)

That’s all from us and hope to see you at the usual time and place next Tuesday!

Week 7: Mixing Genres or ‘Down the Rabbit hole’

So… it has come to this…
We are half-way through the semester already  – and still so much fun creative things to do! With deadlines approaching and reading week over and done, we thought it would be suitable to re-energize and mix things up.
This week we focusing on mixing genres (which can be as straightforward as mixing a mystery-theme with a romance one: or even more complex…) but also touching on reworking cliches and the importance (and joy!) of Children’s Literature.

For some general writing inspiration and preparations for this week, see the Writers Manifeston in previous post: https://gucreativewriting.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/go-down-the-rabbit-hole-a-writers-manifesto/
and this article about writing catering for girls vs boys…:

A few announcements:
– A newly published author has graciously sent us 2 copies of her book (a collection of short stories) which will be available for everyone to read at the meeting, see more: https://gucreativewriting.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/secrets-scandals-theresa-mac/
– March is still awhile away, so keep up the good work and send us your Flash-Fiction pieces!

See you Tuesday!
Nina x

This Week: Comics and Graphic Novels

Hello all,

Hopefully this will bring some good news to an otherwise gloomy Monday morning…

This week we are doing comics and graphic novels! I must admit, this is still ‘exotic’ literary territory for me, so Louise will be taking over this week to get us thinking about how we might experiment with these forms of writing.

We’ve been receiving some great flash fiction pieces so far, so keep up the hard work as we’re over halfway through February now! Remember you are more than welcome to write about prompts from previous days, so have a look to see if any are of interest to you.


Anyway, see you at 6 in the GUU Elliot Library on Tuesday.

All best,



A bowl of grapes sits on the windowsill. Forgotten for days, a layer of dust clusters on the waxy skins of the grapes. Once, the skins were iridescent, their purple a pure Cadbury sheen, bunched behind plastic in the supermarket. A colour, indeed, that seemed a little unnatural.

Once, they had been swollen and fat grapes, ripe for the plucking. Grown, the label said, in the south of France, by a man named Giuseppe. Their colour was rich enough to drool over; the kind of colour that feels sickly in your mouth, too vivid for your vision.

Now the grapes had collapsed a little, their skins shrivelled like a blister popped by a pin. You could imagine the cellophane surface of those grapes: sinking, the juice inside slowly moulding. A clammy wine flavour caught in your throat. Earthy, somehow; but still so acid sweet, leaving that languid aftertaste.

They caught the sunlight that spilled in shafts through the kitchen window. Late February and the light was still winter white, making the grapes gleam a little. From a distance, if you saw the world in impressionist brushstrokes, they could be a collection of amethysts – dull, unpolished crystals. There was the black shadow between them that semi-precious gemstones have, a kind of darker, other self, that took the edge off their luminescence.

How lovely they are, somebody thinks as they enter the kitchen. How lovely and sad, these grapes that we have all forgotten about. These grapes that would quench nobody’s thirst or hunger. Their musk left a cloying, fruity aroma in the air, like red wine left out in the heat uncorked. In a way, they were disgusting. And yet there was a purity to them, a rot or sombreness personified in their fleshly pulp. It was, perhaps, the trueness of their purple.

by Maria Sledmere


There was a cloying scent of incense and tobacco. A luxurious scent, yes, but stale and choking. Everything in the room was the height of luxury: expensive damask wallpaper with stately floral blooms in deep powder purple and violet velour. Crisp satin sheets on the bed; crumpling and folding like tulip petals, a slippery, coarse texture, whispering at every touch from grasping hands and sliding ankles.

On the dresser a mound of discarded jewellery. Amethyst and garnet sparkling dark. A platter of ripe fruit sat upon a low table; plums, grapes, clusters of purple berries with a gossamer veil of downy white on the surface, the gleaming flesh peeking coyly from beneath in the play of candlelight. The fruit was becoming too ripe, almost. Oversweet and oversoft, too giving. No crispness, no tartness or bite. Too easy.

She handed me a glass of wine so dark it was black in its depths, with a damson light within its heart that morphed and shifted like a low-burning flame.

She pulled the lilac lace further down her wrist, covered the nebula of burst veins, like smeared fingerprints in purple ink.

by Rachel Norris