Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Wandering Jasmine Chapter 1: One Rainy Night by Christina E. Petrides

 Barry grabbed for a handhold as the bus lurched to a stop. His bag flew out of his lap, scattering cans of tomato soup on the muddy rubber floor. The driver impatiently jerked open the rain-streaked door. Barry collected most of his cans and got out. The last can clattered down the steps after him. The bus roared off in a cloud of diesel, crushing it. The downpour began to wash the red pulp into a grate at the curb
[GJ1] .

            Barry pulled his hat over his eyes and trudged [GJ2] along the sidewalk, following the quickly-disappearing tire-trail on the wet street. He passed a bakery, locked and dark, a second-hand shop, where a metal grille protected a glass door and cracked window from the further ravages of passerby, and a neon-highlighted door which said “Dancing,” and “Beer On Tap.” Behind him, the bar door opened, and two women in raincoats emerged. The shorter of the two clutched a brown paper sack in one hand and held her other arm above her uncovered head[GJ3] .

            About a block away from the bar, the hatless woman tripped on the broken sidewalk. The bottle in the sack shattered as she fell on the slick cement. Rain, blood and liquor mixed in the cracks.

            Her companion gasped, “Oh, my god, Vicki, are you OK?”

Barry, who'd been slowly pacing ahead of them, dreading the colossal mess Tom had doubtless left at the motel, glanced behind. He dropped his abused groceries under a leaky awning and trotted back.[GJ4] 

            One elbow against the stucco building, Barry reached down to help the injured woman to her feet. The other, a slim, close-cropped redhead, steadied her. Vicki’s[GJ5]  hands were badly cut. She went to wipe them on her short skirt, but the redhead seized her wrists, “No, that'll just rub the glass in further, and ruin your skirt. Here, let me do it.”

            “Oh, damn that hurts! Shit!” Vicki yelped when the other dabbed ineffectually at her wounds with ragged paper napkins from her small clutch. The small squares of paper were quickly soaked. Barry intervened.

            “Here, use this.” His khaki handkerchief was accepted with a brief “Thanks” from the redhead, who stood in her stilettos [GJ6] in a shallow puddle until her friend's hands were free of as many bits of glass as the nearby streetlight showed.

She started to wring out the handkerchief, but Barry said, “Just throw it away[GJ7] , it already has lots of holes in it.”

Vicki, whose knees were skinned through her ruined stockings, grimaced in painful appreciation. “Thanks a whole lot, sorry about that.” 

            “No problem, may I help you get home?”

            “No, thanks. We need to walk, anyway.”

            “Even with those cuts? And in this rain[GJ8] ?”

            “Look, we'll be fine. Thanks.”


            With a shrug,[GJ9]  Barry walked on to retrieve his groceries and continued on his interrupted journey. His dark figure was soon lost in the downpour and the dark. 


[This is the first chapter of an obviously noir-style [GJ10] mystery involving Barry and Tom (who may have disappeared) and Vicki (who either will be murdered or turn into the crime-solving sleuth) and/or her redheaded friend (who may be mugged and drugged or simply remain a nameless sidekick ever after). There could be romance and bizarre weather events along the way; there definitely will be drinking, smoking, swearing, the consumption of canned soup, and the driving of leaded gas-guzzling Detroit beasts.]

General comments

This opens nicely in mid-action and straight away we have an established setting; one of deprivation.  

Barry seems quite young at first or maybe I was expecting that because your bio says you write for children.  

You have established all of the characters quite well in these opening scenes, though there is the question mark about Barry’s age.    

There is a nice narrative balance – dialogue, description, action.

However, I’m not convinced form this opening that it’s “noir-style” or “mystery”. Will the blurb and cover invite me to think that? And might I be disappointed if so by this opening?

Do we need more reaction form Barry to the situation?  How does find the behaviour of the two women?  Do we need to know his opinion of them?  Would this benefit from a little more inner monologue?   

 [GJ1]This is a dramatic opening with a nice use of colour.  Already a convincing atmosphere is created.

 [GJ2]This implies emotion.  

 [GJ3]We’re getting a firm picture here. This seem a very poor place.

 [GJ4]This gives us a good character indication of both Barry and Tom.

 [GJ5]Maybe here; the one who seems to be called Vicki.  

  [GJ6]A telling detail

 [GJ7]Maybe a semi-colon here.  

 [GJ8]He suddenly seems older here.

 [GJ9]That gives us a small indication of his mood.

 [GJ10]Is it obviously? What I have in this short snippet is that Barry and Tom live in a very poor world.   

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Animal point of view

                                                                                                                                   Northern Gannets, Seabirds, Beach, Sea                                                                                             

Write an article, poem, script or story that champions the animal’s point of view. If you find it too difficult to get into the animal’s consciousness you can write about humans supporting animals: allowing animals to return to the wild, stopping cruelty to domestic and farm animals, creating great habitats for wildlife etc.

Article inspiration

Perhaps you could look at your local Wild Life Trust, WWF or Born Free for inspiration.  Or find out more about the wild life in your garden, Can you find someone locally who has taken steps to encourage wildlife in the garden?


Get inside the head of a bird you see in your garden. Write with the senses. What do you see, see? Hear? Feel? Remember, birds have very sharp eye sight.


Will you tell it from the animal’s point of view? Can you do that without too much personification? Take a look at Judy Waite’s Storm Seal or even our own Gentle Footprints.


Can you write a drama about saving some animals? Perhaps about preventing extinction or cruelty? What are the complexities in the situation?


Happy writing.        

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Lighthouse Day

           Lighthouse, Tower, Building

Today is Lighthouse Day

Find out what you can about lighthouses. Do you know of one? Have you ever visited one?  What is it like walking to the top of the tower? There is plenty of scope here for writing with the senses, putting something into a historical setting or writing a story or script with a lot of drama.

Decide which genre to write in and get writing.

Here a few ideas about lighthouses to get you going.

Holiday in a lighthouse

Yes, in fact several have been turned into holiday homes. Have you ever had a holiday in one? What is the effect of staying in a lighthouse on the people in your text?

Living in a lighthouse

Why would someone want to do that? Is it possible? Does it work out for them in the end?

La Chambre d’Amour Biarritz

Why such a romantic name? Does it have a story to tell? Or could it indeed be the background for a romantic story?

The Winkie      

A small lighthouse on the Isle of Man. Why is it so small? What’s its story?

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse

The lighthouse at the end of the world. This is found on the southern tip of Argentina. Does this suggest a fantasy story to you?

Monday, 25 July 2022

Secret Admirer


Man, Valentines, Day, Love, Romance

You or your character has a secret admirer. How do you know this?  What do you do to find out who it is? Do you find out? How are you changed by this?


Think about both the person who is admired and the admirer. What do you know about them physically, intellectually and emotionally? What is their personality like? What is their greatest fear and what is their greatest desire? What do they want and what do they need? You probably know about both characters.  The admired person doesn’t know about the admirer, but they admirer does know about the admired.  


What happens first? How does the story build? Think of perhaps three growing complexities. How is the admiration expressed? Is it pleasant or sinister for the admired person? How do things come to a head? What does the protagonist do about it?

Will your story have au upbeat or dark ending?


Will you write a story, script or poem?  Or has this actually happened to you? Can you write a piece of memoir?

You can also turn it all on its head and write the story from the point of view of the admirer. Or could you show both points of view?

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Fabulous show


Chicago, Illinois, Dupage Opera Theatre

Article ideas:

·         Write about the best show you’ve ever been to. 

·         Write an article about a theatre or concert hall you love

·         Write about why you love or hate live entertainment

·         Research why we have theatre (Aristotle? Socrates?)



·         Try to record the atmosphere of a theatre or concert hall.

·         Capture the excitement of attending a live performance

·         Could you write a song or two to turn a straight play into a musical? (Don’t  worry we won’t ask you to sing it though you can if you like) 



·         Write a sketch about a theatre / concert hall visit.

·         Write a five to ten minute sketch about a creative writing group that isn’t as nice as ours

·         Shakespeare peppered his plays with “masques” – plays within plays. Can you create a masque?



·         Write a story about a character who goes to the theatre for the first time.  What do they see? What does the theatre seem like to them? Does it change them?

·         Write a story about a performance that goes wrong

·         Write a story about the village amateur dramatic group – who eventually put on a fabulous show.