Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creative writing – Developing Ideas for Writing about Belonging

Writers use their memories and recollections constantly in their writing, but you cannot tell what is fiction and what is fact. That’s actually a good thing. It allows the writer to maintain their privacy while exploring their life in an entertaining way. Because you are writing fiction, you can add to your story whatever aspects of the narrative you want to develop – setting, characters, plot, description, etc. It’s up to you.

The following modelled response is a memory from my childhood. Playing games with my family was one way I felt a sense of belonging and connection to others. There are elements of this story that are true and elements that I have added for effect. One of the reasons why I found this easy to write was because I can imagine this scene because parts of it happened. You will notice that this form of writing is very visual. Creating clear visual images in your reader’s mind is one way to engage your audience.

This extract comes from a larger piece of writing. The extract was written to develop my character, who had just lost his father. Through the memory extract I was aiming to explore the sense of loss the character would be feeling at that particular time.

Activity: (This should take about 10 minutes to complete)
Write a description of a scene from your childhood where you felt a strong sense of belonging or not belonging. Write in the first person using the present tense. Add aspects to you description that may not have happened, for example the setting or people involved. Slowly develop the scene through creating clear visual images, which demonstrate your characters’ thoughts, actions, desires, attitudes and beliefs.

Modelled response
We are in the garden, and I am digging a hole with a stick fallen from the fig tree that shelters our entire front yard. My Dad is with me, lying in the dirt. He wipes his face with his hand, leaving a smudge of brown on his cheek. He is my war hero and we are about to go into battle. He tells me to shift the dirt into a mound. I follow his commands like a drill sergeant. We can use it for the hills he says. Bonus points if you go over the top of them. First one to hit all their marbles in the ditch wins. We both nod.

My mum calls us in for dinner. I hold my breath as my Dad hollers to her that we need another half an hour. He looks at me and I try my best to conceal my smile. This is man’s business, he tells me.

He pulls out a bag of marbles from his pocket and spills them onto the dirt. They look like chocolate jaffa lollies decorated like Easter eggs. He brushes the dirt from the tops of the marbles. I have something special for you, he says. He pulls out from his other pocket a larger marble. We call it a boulder. I squirm inside, ecstatic. It’s shiny red and has two black lightning bolts crossing each other. He holds it in between his thumb and pointer finger and twists it back and forth in front of my eyes. I let out a deep sigh. Where did you get that from? I have connections, he says. Let’s play ball.

My mum is calling now, louder and more forceful. I shrug off the interruption, jerking my shoulder up toward my ear like I’m warding off a fly. Still the noise. It’s piercing my ears, drilling a hole through my head. I look to my father, but he is gone.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Great idea.

I think about routines and places when I think about belonging. For example, I like to walk to my local "village" shops to catch the bus rather than wait up on the main road. Why? Because I identify with the citiscape peaking over the hill,the coffee, the bakery where I buy it, the woman who makes it. All these details form a sense of belonging. Thinking about that helps pepper a written response with images that build this sense.