Committed writers dedicated to working together to produce excellent poems, short stories, drama, life writing, and creative non-fiction

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Sheila 01823 67 28 46

Valerie 01884 84 04 22

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Breaking news

Middle-class cocoon,
listening to Radio 4.

she announced.
Curious word?

Distant tropical sea-bed
arched by subterranean quake,
water wall avalanche
erupts on halcyon shores,
wielding drowned destruction.

Unfathomable loss:
more women than men,
more children still.
Ship beached miles inland,
incongruous in memoriam.

Laundry stashed, fragrant,
in airing cupboard.

© Helen McIntosh
All rights reserved

Thursday 15 January 2015

“Where were you when?”

Where were you when
I fell out of my pram?
It was a Princess Windsor II
I'm told,
later used to dam
the stream where
ten spine Sticklebacks swam.
And later still a go-cart,
then renovated for your grand kids.
Where are you now?
On a tablet in the garden
of remembrance.

© William Botley
All rights reserved


Where were you when you started to think
About Freedom and Brotherly Love?
About which is mightier, pen or gun,
In a suburban neighbourhood?

Where were you when you felt the divide,
When horror felt too near?
When political expression was polarised
Between penmanship and fear?

© Isabel Hare
All rights reserved

the David Lean Rule

a follow-up (and closely related) to last week’s The Clothesline Method.

“Here’s the David Lean Rule, as I would state it, for my own benefit as a writer or for anyone else:

In addition to thinking of a narrative in terms of Act One/Act Two/Act Three, think of it as eight to twelve sequences or sections.

I use this all the time. It’s extremely helpful, I’ve found, with long-form material like novels or full-length non-fiction. Why? Because the Three Act concept of organizing a narrative doesn’t always work with something that’s really lo-o-o-ng.

Three-act structure, remember, was developed for plays, for dramas presented on stage, and for movies—in other words for works that would be taken in by the audience at a single sitting. A play or a movie takes ninety minutes, at most a couple of hours. We in the audience have no trouble remembering, as we’re watching Act Three, some set-up scene or moment from Act One. Three-act structure works. It abets and reinforces the narrative’s momentum. Act One hooks us, Act Two builds the tension and complications, Act Three delivers the payoff.

But a 500-page novel doesn’t work like that. We may take a month to read such a weighty tome. We’ll pick it up at bedtime, read 60 pages, then not touch it again for a week. Three-act structure doesn’t always work in this case because the narrative is not designed to be consumed in one sitting. By the time we hit page 396, we’ve forgotten key characters and moments that were introduced on page 21. And even if we do still remember them, the momentum of the story has been lost because so much time has passed. We, the readers, have to reconstitute it by act of memory at each new sitting.

The David Lean Rule comes in really handy here. If we as writers build our narrative out of eight to twelve sequences or sections, each one of which is more or less free-standing (and possesses its own cohesion and story momentum), the reader can pick up the book and be back into the flow right away.

Another big plus, in my opinion, is that thinking in sequences, as David Lean would, gives a story a classic, old-fashioned feel, like Lean’s movies. I like that. It’s old time storytelling.”

Read more, here: the David Lean Rule

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Where were you?

If you can remember the sixties you weren’t there – Robin Williams

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
- much too early for me.


was this when
every life became
‘a brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game’?

I don’t know.

At boarding schools
‘til nineteen seventy-six
more games were lost than won
- fewer bouquets than bricks.

© Tim Scott
All rights reserved

Where were you when….?

Grey figures shoulder
the bullet dark coffin,
feet shuffle, bagpipes moan.

The screen's blue light
flickers on their silent faces;
students, future teachers
bridging a dying empire,
to mould the new world.

The man with the voice which
resonated in their parents’ hearts.

© Valerie Taylor
All rights reserved

Where Were You?

I cannot find you
as snow falls deep,
blanketing and blanking out
your grave.

Where shall I place
the bright poinsettia
you loved so much -
always had at Christmas
cheering the house?

Frozen tears of snowflakes kiss my cheeks.
I was lost to you so long ago.
How can you find me now?

© Gill Dunstan
All rights reserved


clock striking midnight
wind howling cold
strangely re-lived
now Im old

bells ringing loudly
deep hollow tone
clouds moving quickly 
dark cutting moan

entering the tunnel
lights at the end
riding the water
pushing past cold

life in my lungs
breathing in air
hopes in the future
that youre there

© Liz Redfern
All rights reserved

When I needed you most

Abandoned, marooned,
pacing dusty footprints by moonlight,
listening to that song, on continuous loop,
all summer;

that summer
spent watching, as a world stopped turning,
the light dimming, daylight
slipping from my window.

What did you

Who were you

Did they remind you
of me?

Where were you?

© Sophia Roberts
All rights reserved

Where were you?

When the sun came up But sunlight waned
and flooded the plains gave way to rain
when the grass was green birds scattered grass withered
so green and died.

we sang to the birds I called your name
they tweeted back it echoed in vain.
- Remember? Where were you then when 
I cried?
@ Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Christmas Eve

"Mince pie, glass of sherry and we mustn't forget the carrot for Rudolph, eh boys? There we are. Now, off to bed and straight to sleep or he won't come."

"You too?"

"Yes, us too."

"Poor old fogies. You'd think somebody'd have told them by now, wouldn't you?"

"Na, they'll believe anything."

@ Sheila Rogers
All rights reserved

Wednesday 7 January 2015

The Clothesline Method

Great idea here for writing a narrative:

"I’m just starting a new novel, trying to figure out the shape of the damn thing. Here’s a trick I use that might help you too. I call it the Clothesline Method.

The line starts out empty.

Then you hang the shirts and towels and underwear (the scenes and sequences) on it.

I aim for between eight and twelve.

Sometimes I’ll actually draw a clothesline on a piece of paper (yellow foolscap, my fave) and sketch in a dozen or so squares hanging beneath.

What I love about this method is it’s simple and it’s dumb. It takes all the preciousness out of the process. And it eliminates a lot of the fear. How hard is it to hang a dozen dresses, sheets, and pairs of blue jeans on a line?

Read more at Writing Wednesday

Saturday 3 January 2015

50 words on “Xmas Eve”

Young man
As a magistrate
this Xmas tide
I think all families
should together
so I’m going to give you
twenty eight days
then you’ll all
be together

© William Botley
All rights reserved