The bridge is wide The Forth is deep lambic trains are made for sleep

But speaking in regular metre would make us sound like daleks or metronomes. Even in instances of high regularity, as in the just-quoted couplet, the voice is only loosely attached to the beat. A breathing rhythm has its part to play as well. The heart is regular and beats involuntarily, but we can control our breathing. We can pause, slow down, speak rapidly, whilst still staying within the iambic range. In poetry the underlying sense of metre (like a heart-beat) is more pronounced than it is...

Travel

Memories of travel are often about excitement and anticipation that moment when you wake up and know that in a matter of hours you will be in a plane crossing the Alps or the coastal forests of Eastern Canada in just as long as it takes to eat your breakfast. But as well as thinking about how to tap into all that anticipation, it might be useful to reflect on what travel has meant to us in the past. The idea of the journey occupies a central place in our creative literature, as if 'journey' and...

Realism

The first character in fiction to experience 'belonging to oneself' was Robinson Crusoe. There are similarities between Hegland's story and Defoe's novel, one of the earliest examples of modern fiction, written near the beginning of the eighteenth century. As well as a new attention to self and surroundings, modern fiction writers aimed to position their story-worlds close to the common experience of living readers. This stylistic development is usually defined by the term realism. King also...

Memory

In Chapter 1, I made a distinction between memory and imagination to highlight how certain events, images, scenes, become intensified, recalled in vividness, remembered whilst others subside into the unconscious mass of fragments it seems we have no use for. But if only it were that simple. The mind is not a filing system from which we can draw out an item of memory as fresh as the moment it was placed there. The system will have continued to absorb the item, digesting it, modifying it, and...

Writing Coursebook

THE ROUTLEDGE CREATIVE WRITING COURSEBOOK This step-by-step, practical guide to the process of creative writing provides readers with a comprehensive course in its art and skill. With genre-based chapters, such as life writing, novels and short stories, poetry, fiction for children and screenwriting, it is an indispensable guide to writing successfully. The Routledge Creative Writing Coursebook shows new writers how to get started and suggests useful writing habits encourages experimentation...

Voice

Writing as art helps us to recognise the voices, images, worlds and stories we inhabit and which inhabit us in other words, our acquired culture. But it usually does this not through explanation or analysis, but by encouraging us to listen and see. In the following passage from her novel The Bluest Eye, the black American writer Toni Morrison paints a picture of weekends in a family household in Ohio. The child narrator remembers the impact of her mother's voice. She recreates her singing, her...

Art Of Writing Preface

Somewhere between a second edition and a sequel, the present book follows Writing In Action, with a focus exclusively on creative writing. It aims to offer fresh approaches and some new terms to match. Whilst writing this book I became aware of new ground to be discovered, and the constant need to rethink what happens when we read and write creatively. Creative writing as a taught discipline is on the move it is going places, and I hope I've provided some opportunity to think about interesting...

Acknowledgements

Paul Mills, 'Mile End Opera', from Dinosaur Point, 2000, Smith Doorstop Books. Reproduced by kind permission of the publisher http www.poetrybusiness.co.uk . 'Strayed Crab', from The Complete Poems 1927-1979, by Elizabeth Bishop. Copyright 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. 'Sandra Lee Scheuer', Copyright Gary Geddes. 'Active Trading', 1996. Reproduced by permission of Peterloo Poets. Fred D'Aguiar, 'Home', from British Subjects,...

S

Poetry anthologies often list poems under separate headings. For example, Staying Alive, edited by Neil Astley, includes 'Roads and Journeys', 'Growing Up'. Compile a list of poems under a heading of your choice, then write your own poems on this topic. If the heading were 'Home', for example, you might find the following instructions helpful Home could be a house, a city, a neighbourhood, a country or a continent. It could be home in the past or the present. Homes you have known. A...

Deception and Evasion

For some strange reason we often associate creative literature with truth, yet novels and plays are full of characters who fail to tell it, deliberately avoid it, prefer to tell what they wish was the case rather than what actually is. Plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, like those by Chekhov and Ibsen, typify what we might call the literature of evasion. The truth, of course, finally gets spoken, but not until a voice for it can be found. In terms of structure their plays are about...

But shes to be there Let me jump out owagon and go back and drown me At Pumney or Ten Hatches Weir

In Hardy's 'One Ralph Blossom Soliloquizes' the story is reported in the Budmouth Borough minutes of 16_. One Ralph Blossom was asked to pay towards the upkeep of seven women 'who were mayds before they knew him'. But since, say the records, Ralph was 'dying of purple fever', no actual payments were requested. All this comes in an epigraph to the poem, which then begins with Ralph's own words just before his death. 'What will these seven women say to me ' Three show regret at what happened and...

Imagemaking

How do writers construct worlds where objects become hinged openings, doors, invitations to enter and speculate In a way I might already have answered this question. Images occur when a mind is closely attending to some object or event in its surroundings. To elaborate, the mind is in an unusual state of attention, so that a once familiar state or condition of things appears to be unfamiliar, surprising, joyful or hazardous. This view will not appeal to everybody. It assumes, it is argued, a...

Reading Images

An image can be something we feel invited to walk around, view from different angles like a sculpture. Something has been carved out so that each view of it is equal to any other. No single perspective has the last word. No matter how powerful images are, their reception may still be unclear, and that uncertainty can prove creative. In creative writing, the audience or reader needs to feel actively involved in the construction of meaning. In Margaret Atwood's story 'Death by Landscape' the...

Fingers decurved I trv not to envision it

I consider careers he can have with one-and-a- half hands. When the doctor has stuck the needles into his forearm and unloosed the current, there is a crackling on the monitor a scribble of activity on the screen, my throat thickens as I hear the life of the nerve, and the doctor says, A healthy nerve this nerve is dead. For a second I had pictured the muscle at the base of his thumb, flexor pollucis brevis, and the heel of his hand, I saw him in the album, holding his weak hand in his strong...

The sun with long legs wades into the sea

How extraordinary to make a scene out of such little detail, to make that detail stylised, formal, yet also very moving. But is the reader moved by the aesthetics or by the contents a storm, death, no evidence, the beach and beams of sunlight indifferent to death It becomes very difficult to know. Mazes, subsided herds, the sun with long legs metaphors, formal devices the very opposite of William Carlos Williams's treatment of the woman in the street removing a nail from her shoe see above, p....

The Story of the Self

The sensations of a mind and body, in finite time, moving through a physical universe if this is one definition of the self, it perhaps becomes more recognisable if we add desires, fears, and, in some cases, prayers for its everlasting salvation. These attributes link each of us to a culture, so that we learn to desire, fear and speak to each other only as we belong to groups of people sharing customs, values and beliefs. The self still remains a neurological mystery, however in so far as how...