I love re-telling and collecting stories, yet I’ve not made much time to write my own story until now. I recently attended a short writing course run by Haringey Literature Live. It was a ‘Life Writing in Fiction’ course, led by short story writer Rebecca Swirsky. There were just 3 of us attending the course, all with similar aspirations of wanting to find ways of documenting, shaping and sharing our personal stories.
On day ONE, Rebecca began with ‘beginnings’. How to capture your audience and spellbind them with a remarkable start to your story. We reviewed the beginnings and perspective voices for the following books:
- Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Why Be Happy When You could Be Normal’ (my personal favourite)
- A. M. Homes’ – ‘The Mistress’s Daughter’
- Gary Shteyngart’s- ‘Little Failure, A Memoir’
- Janet Frame: ‘The Complete Autobiography’
- Gerald Durrell’s – ‘My family and Other Animals’
I managed to bring a smile to everyone’s face, with the beginning of one of my short stories:
I was lying face down, naked, up to my neck in avocado, cucumber and goodness knows what other creams. That’s what I explain to people when they ask me ‘what were you doing in Thailand when the Tsunami hit in 2004?’
Tone of voice
Through various writing exercises over the 3 weeks, I was able to test out a few techniques commonly used by authors. One of the main ones being ‘try out a different voice/person to write in.’ Writing in the 2nd person’ or the ‘you voice’ had the most impact upon my writing style. It is remarkable how writing in that person creates a sense of immediacy in your writing.
Reading our pieces out aloud to each other was an integral part of the course and one that I wasn’t used to. The feedback and encouragement from everyone really spurred me on. We were breathing life into stories that had never been shared before. It was exhilarating and slightly terrifying all at once.
After writing and sharing a few pieces during the course, I’m now inspired to go further and join Medium.com to collaboratively write my stories and perhaps share a story, at a Haringey Literature Live and Spark London event.