Author Archives: h.pleasance

Historical Fiction Workshop at Beyond the Vote

Image result for beyond the vote york

Creative Writers!

Come and join me this Saturday afternoon  to immerse yourself in the heady 1920s! As part of the wonderful Beyond the Vote Festival I will be giving a Creative Writing Workshop on historical fiction.     We will focus on the immediate aftermath of women gaining the vote; years when women’s employment, domestic lives, sexual and bodily identities were all undergoing massive changes. How can you use historical research to create interesting and believable characters and put them in a world that evokes the era for your readers? Can a knitting magazine be as important a key to your historical character as their attitude to female suffrage? We will debate such questions, look at a range of research materials and, most importantly, begin your own pieces of historical fiction.

The workshop runs from 3-4.30pm. For some of you this might be a deal breaker as you are already committed to a potentially historic football match. But, as writers of historical fiction know, there are many individual responses to ‘historic’ events and missing England v Sweden might not even have registered with you. If that is the case, please use the link above to sign up to this free public event and I look forward to seeing you there.

 

Crime and Adventure on the Railways

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for some suspense-filled mystery stories by third-year Creative Writing students on the National Railway Museum website. The students all participated in a collaborative project with the museum last semester as part of their Writing Genres module. They learnt all about the long history of crime and adventure stories with train and railway settings.

crime and adventure

As you can read at http://blog.nrm.org.uk/ their stories all drew on this history: the possibilities of the ‘locked room’ of the train carriage, the potential for the criminal to hide and escape, the anxieties of being trapped with strangers, and all the things that can be done with a carriage key…

The stories will be published at fortnightly intervals from this week onward to coincide with the museums Crime and Adventure season. read the stories, visit the museum and be inspired to add to this genre yourself.

 

 

Shandy Hall Trip – 4 March

We started by looking at a full-stop

We started by looking at a full-stop

On Friday 4 March a group of third-year undergraduate Creative Writing students set out in freezing rain in search of Shandy Hall in Coxwold, where Laurence Sterne wrote the majority of his novel Tristram Shandy.

From the moment we arrived we knew we were in topsy-turvy Shandy Land, where nothing is quite right. We started by looking at a full-stop. The wonderful, digressive curator of Shandy Hall, Patrick Wildgust, began by showing us the full-stop that appears at the end of the first edition of Tristram Shandy, magnified and turned into a work of art by Scott Myles.

In the chapel we saw sacrificial glass and stones that speak.

A stone that speaks, in the chapel. 'STERNE was THE MAN, who with gigantic stride mow'd down luxuriant follies'

A stone that speaks, in the chapel. ‘STERNE was THE MAN, who with gigantic stride mow’d down luxuriant follies’

Back in the hall we measured out an hour in grains of sand. We took books that took books to pieces to pieces.

Taking books that take books to pieces to pieces at Shandy Hall

Taking books that take books to pieces to pieces at Shandy Hall

So of course we learned that a full-stop is not really what it appears. There is never a full stop or end to narrative. Look at it closely, magnify it a hundred, thousand, million-fold and a full-stop seeps into the paper with valleys and channels, black holes and highlights. It is not a stop at all, but just another messy mark on a page out of which we try to make meaning; in which we swear we can decipher the head of King George III in silhouette.

The full-stop launches us into new narratives, fresh meanings. So watch this space for our creative responses to the topsy-turvy world of Shandy Hall…