Balloons and buoyancy!


Today is a day of catch-up for Tuesday (apologies) but that being said – Tuesday was a fairly busy day! I will begin with my Day 23 poem for Image, which asked us to write a triolet – an eight-line poem.

‘All the lines are in iambic tetramenter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) — ABaAabAB.’


I have my own hot air balloon

I spy on people, from the moon

On rainbows bright I slide with glee

I have my own – hot air balloon

It’s really nothing strange to me

On clouds of dreams I snuggle

I have my own Hot Air Balloon

I spy on people from the moon.


I’m not quite sure if this reads as the er, best triolet ever, as I found it a little tricky, but it’s an effort anyway! Yesterday also saw the final (or so I thought) night of creative writing with El Gruer but… she’s very kindly added on another three weeks! So, NaPoWriMo may soon be ending but poetic inspiration will continue…

Last night with El (over a pot of tea of course), we began by sharing our homework – an extension of last week’s exercise with the painting. (I chose to write a ‘Painter’s Poem’ from the perspective of the painter on the beach.) From this we moved on to writing in a stream of consciousness for ten minutes, which sounds long but actually flew by really rather quickly. This produced a lot of, as El aptly put it ‘mind vomit’, but as the ten minutes were nearing to a close I did actually begin to write something a bit more meaningful. Personally, I love reading this type of writing (eg James Joyce/Virginia Woolf), but I know it’s not for everyone.

The purpose of this was to clear our minds of all our cluttering thoughts so we could get to the good stuff. It’s something I’ve never done in my writing generally, but El told us how some writers she knows do this every time they sit down to write – before they write what they’ve set out to do – so they can de-clutter and focus properly. Some also use it as a diary, doing it every day and some go back to see if any word pairings or phrases could be salvaged and used in their writing. Useful stuff!

Next up was an exercise in abstract thinking as we filled in the gaps in a generic sentence with quirky/creative words (an eg of why I need to do this type of exercise has just been demonstrated… ‘quirky/creative’ – I use these words a lot!). So, one example of mine was: ‘A sparrow in an orchard of sparrows‘. We then listed the sights, sounds and senses we associated with the images we had created – all a very original way I thought, to create writing to grab a reader’s attention.

THEN, it was feedback on the first chapter of ‘The Draft’… I am pleased to report however, that the comments were positive and the advice was very well received! My plus points were in the structure and flow of the story, the pace and the hook – that is, El thought for the young age group I’m aiming for, the adventure began at an appropriately early stage and would grab their attention. (Here’s hoping!)

Points to consider included repetition of phrases/words/sentences and saying the same thing quite close together but in different ways. Also, for the 7-12 age range I’m writing for, making sure the language I use is simplistic and explanatory enough is a key point, which I know I need to work on in various parts of the book. Sourcing punchy, exciting adjectives which differ from the norm and ‘get beyond the usual’ was also advised… like I said – El’s exercises help a lot with this (as does a thesaurus..) 

So, after my second read-through and correction of the manuscript, my third reading will see the circling of all of the above – repetitive phrases, ordinary adjectives and difficult language! It has definitely re-inspired me and made me buoyant once more!

Anyway, back to the class. It was then onto a ’12 Days of May’ exercise, where we wrote ‘On the first day of May I…(walked over a rainbow)’, unleashing our inner child/dreamer to come up with all the fantastic things we might have done. This was a good way, we were told, to delve into your character’s mind – for example, what details would they pick up on? Also, once again, it inspired creative thinking and alternative ways of describing things.

And finally, the night closed with some ‘Writing for Screen’ tasks, as we jotted down how we would shoot the opening scene for various scenarios. Of course, different things must be considered when writing in this way, so brevity and directness are key.

As I said, there are now three additional weeks of El’s classes on the horizon and I am in no doubt they will continue to inspire and spice up my writing. If you’re near Coleraine on a Tuesday evening (7-9pm), pop into Hope & Gloria and try them out!

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