Monday 13 November 2023

Manipulation - prompt


We all know about cookies when we visit Internet sites. It’s feels totally uncanny how Amazon and Facebook know what we’re interested in. Advertising in the media influences us enormously. It’s probably highly logical.  

Is AI taking this further?

Here’s a spooky example. A friend died recently and I made a note of his address so that I could send his widow a card. I actually wrote the address down on paper with a pen.  I did have a printed copy of it elsewhere and this had been created as a spreadsheet on the computer of someone with whom I often exchange emails. A few days later, when I was using the newly created Greater Manchester BEE app to find the next bus that would take me home a Google map appeared, showing me the bus route to his house. His house as well as his street was shown.

Perhaps a little more simple and understandable is that I keep getting junk email about investment possibilities. I have recently sold some properties’ and decided to invest the profit. I’ve been using the internet quite a bit to look for possibilities.   

But what happens if this goes to extremes?

Write an article, poem, script or story about someone who falls prey to this and maybe how they get out of it.


Thursday 19 October 2023

Character: archetypes


Several of the gurus who have come out with story theories have also suggested archetypes that are found in stories.  You may have started with four basic characters: hero, enemy, friend and mentor but you may find looking at these characters useful.

Christopher Booker’s archetypes

Good old man

Innocent young girl

Rival or “shadow”


Dark Father

Dark Mother

Dark self

Joseph Campbell’s archetypes








Christopher Vogler’s archetypes  








Vladimir Propp’s archetypes 




False hero




Other fairy-tale familiars (as found by the brothers Grimm)

The Guileless Fool

The Meddlesome Fairy

The Wicked Crone

The Charming Prince

The Beautiful Damsel

As you will see, there is a lot of overlap between the different gurus. I haven’t gone into a lot of explanation here;   let them be what their name suggests. If you are really interested in archetypes you may like to look at Jung and also the work of Carol Pearson and Margaret Mark:     

Why work with archetypes?

They can give each of your characters a function within the story. It’s important to ask why characters are there at all and this may be especially important for minor characters.  And readers love archetypes, even if they can’t name them. They recognise them as familiar.

Your turn

Use a work in progress and see if you can fit one of these characters in or build up one that you already have to become one of them. Can you pinpoint the role of any other characters you have there?  Or maybe in something you’re currently reading?       

Monday 25 September 2023

Embers of Pain: Navigating the Flames of Living Through a Fire by Erin M Fischer

In the darkest corners of our existence, there are moments when life thrusts us into the crucible of fire[GJ1] . A fire that engulfs not only the physical world around us but also the very essence of our being[GJ2] . It is in these harrowing experiences that we taste the bitter anguish [GJ3] of living through a fire, where pain becomes an all-consuming force that tests our resilience, alters our perceptions, and leaves indelible scars upon our souls.


1. Ignition:

In the beginning, there is the spark—a catalyst that ignites [GJ4] the inferno. The flames lick at our hopes and dreams, reducing them to ashes. The pain of witnessing everything we hold dear [GJ5] succumb to the merciless fire engulfs us, leaving us gasping for air amidst the suffocating smoke of loss and despair.[GJ6] 


2. Conflagration:

As the fire rages, it consumes our sense of security, devouring the familiar and replacing it with chaos. Our once-sturdy foundations crumble, leaving us exposed and vulnerable. The pain intensifies as we grapple with the overwhelming uncertainty, desperately seeking solace amidst the relentless heat that threatens to consume us entirely[GJ7] .


3. Scorching Transformation:

Yet, amidst the pain, we find a crucible [GJ8] of transformation. Like phoenixes rising from the ashes, we discover newfound strength within ourselves. The fire becomes a catalyst for growth, forcing us to confront our deepest fears and summon courage we never knew existed. The pain becomes a teacher, sculpting our character, and granting us the resilience to endure even the most searing trials.


4. Lingering Ashes:

Even as the flames recede, their imprints remain etched upon our hearts. We are left to sift through the charred remnants of our past, navigating the landscape of pain and loss. Memories linger like smoldering embers, reminding us of the wounds we carry, but also serving as a testament to our survival and capacity for renewal[GJ9] .


5. Rebirth:

In the aftermath of the fire, there is a flicker of hope. The pain, once all-consuming, becomes a catalyst for rebirth. We rise from the ashes, not unscathed but wiser, more compassionate, and resilient. We learn to cherish the beauty of life with newfound appreciation, embracing the fragile moments of joy and connection that emerge from the ruins[GJ10] [GJ11] .


Living through [GJ12] a fire is a harrowing journey through the depths of pain and anguish. It tests our very existence, challenging our spirit and reshaping our perceptions. Yet, in the crucible of fire[GJ13] , we discover our strength, our capacity to endure, and the profound resilience of the human spirit. It is through the flames that we learn to rise, renewed, and forever changed by the raw and transformative power of pain.

 [GJ1]Does a fire have a crucible?  Are you mixing metaphors here?

 [GJ2]A bit of a cliché Could you say this another way.   

 [GJ3]Can we taste anguish? Experience it? Feel it, perhaps.

 [GJ4]Would it be worth mentioning the stages in between?  

 [GJ5]A bit  of a cliché again

 [GJ6]Complex  construction;   it is hard  for the reader to follow that.

 [GJ7]This paragraph is clearer though you include another image, of a building crumbling.

 [GJ8]“crucible” again though here it is used correctly. However, this weakens the earlier use of it  even more.  

 [GJ9]Yes this stage works,  In fact the cycle is sound. You just need to be a little more careful with the content each stage.

 [GJ10]Good images here.  

 [GJ11]An interesting piece and the analogy to the life cycle of a fire could be really effective. There needs to be some tightening, though.  

 [GJ12]An implication here that one might not survive?

 [GJ13]Crucible doesn’t  work here. 

Despite my notes here I would say that this piece works well. it has  a strong voice and overall it;s an interesting analogy. However, it needs considerable tightening. 

About the author

 Erin M Fischer is a writer, tutor, speaker, activist, and artist. Erin is also a graduate student, studying Political Psychology at Arizona State University. She enjoys painting, cooking, jewelry making, exploring, learning, and educating the masses on the merits of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Living in a Cyber-world


This is probably a very important topic at the moment.  There are lots of concerns about artificial intelligence and computer hacking, identity theft etc.

We all spend a lot of our time staring at screens these days, more so probably because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Will this go to an extreme? Will we have to go the same way as the Daleks and the Cybermen? Is the on-line life here to stay?  Or will here be a reaction against all of this?  Use your writing skills to explore this theme. 


There are plenty of ideas for articles: scams, how to work sensibly with AI, what else there is to do apart from looking at screens.

This also lends it itself to interesting poetry. An ode to the cyber world? A ballad, a story of what has happened or might happen there? A eulogy, mourning what is lost because of it? Or what about a Limerick?

In a script could you subtly introduce some sentient AI and all the implications around that?

Surely as well time for a story, novella or novel?