Monday, March 26, 2012

Writing Articles

I am happy to report that everyone had done their homework on 23 March! As it isn't compulsory, and everyone has such busy lives these days, I think that is very creditable. We had three stories beginning with the same first line, all developing differently but starting from the same opening, set in Paris. Two people chose the opening about meeting at a railway station. Liz, who was absent on 16 March, read us a story which was homework from the previous week, on which she had clearly spent a lot of time. Well done everybody.
After a little 'What is it? Where is it?' quiz, identifying places from photographs taken around the island, we discussed writing articles about Lanzarote.
Lyn brought a photo of a field of camomile flowers, for example, which we realised could stimulate a whole selection of ideas; flora and fauna of the island, useful plants and herbs which can be found growing wild, seasons and the delight of springtime on a volcanic island or just simply a description of the colour and beauty that surrounds us.
I look forward to posting the finished items which promise to include the following: Fiestas throughout the year, finding the quieter places, walking and/or cycling, seeing the island by bus, shopping and the local markets etc. etc.

If you are coming along on Friday (30 March) don't forget your notebooks, the ones that you use to jot down things you have heard or observed and ideas for stories that occur to you.

You are invited to submit entries for the Lanzarote Creative Group Short Story Competition, 200 - 500 words by Friday 20 April 2012. You can e mail entries, send them as an attachment or bring them to class. Please put your name on your entry and include a word count.
Entries for the Telegraph Short Story Competition, up to 2,000 words on any subject should be sent by e mail to by the last day of the month.

Lanzarote, unspoilt island

It is a fact that there is only one 'high -rise' building on the whole of the island of Lanzarote. The Gran Hotel in Arrecife, the capital, stands out as an easily identifiable landmark from land, sea and air.
One of the reasons why so much of the island remains unspoiled is the influence of the Lanzarote born artist, C├ęsar Manrique. He and his contemporaries devoted their energies to ensuring that Lanzarote did not become overdeveloped. He spearheaded the movement to promote sustainable growth, allowing the island to retain its unique character whilst catering for the tourist trade, which is the lifeblood of the island's economy.
Seven places of exceptional beauty exist on the island because of his vision and skills as an artist and architect. The Manrique Foundation is his legacy and exists to maintain these monuments and to monitor development on the island. Local laws make it illegal to alter the typical Canarian buildings around the coastline and traditional building methods and materials are encouraged all over the island. The charm and character of the little towns and villages remains unspoiled and even the tourist resorts have been tastefully developed to combine the needs of the tourist trade with respect for the island's beauty and its status as a Biospheric Zone.
The population today, of around 120,000, includes many English residents, slightly fewer German, and a smaller number from elsewhere, who have visited the island and found their perfect second home or ideal retirement place in the sun.
The local people are friendly and welcoming and the pace of life is relaxed and enjoyable. Traffic jams are few and the crime rate is low compared to other places in Europe. The climate is pleasant all year round with gentle breezes to offset the heat of the sun in the summer and minimal rainfall in winter, when the temperature rarely falls below 12 degrees centigrade even during the night.
There is virtually no heavy industry on the island and that means minimal air pollution.
Lanzarote is the most easterly of the Canary Islands. It lies 100km (60miles) off the coast of Africa, is 60 km from North to south and 20km at its widest point. Despite its relatively small size it is extremely varied and interesting with a rich history and culture. Since the 15th Century it has been a province of Spain. The south of the island is dominated by the spectacular volcanoes which resulted from the eruptions on the 18th century.
The volcanoes in the north are much older and the plant life and appearance of the landscape are quite different. It is worth noting that despite being a volcanic island there has been no loss of life directly resulting from volcanic activity on the island in recorded history. The volcanoes are of the Hawaiian, or Stromboli, type which give ample warning over weeks, or even months, of impending eruption and every device invented exists on the island to monitor the volcanic activity.

Sue Almond

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Latest update

After a fun session on Friday 16/03 members took away four story ideas started in class. If you have time please continue one of the stories to share with the group next week.
Don't forget you need a photo of someone or somewhere on the island that might be a starting point for writing something about Lanzarote.
Also remember, you need to keep up your note books and bring them along to share interesting comments and anecdotes that could be a stimulus for a story.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How is it going so far?

Week one of 2012 saw members of the Creative Writing Group discussing an anecdotal short story before having a go at writing one. An anecdotal story does not necessarily have a narrative structure that includes a conventional beginning, middle and end. The idea is to dive straight into the story, at the point where the event or anecdote you are telling us about begins, without background or lead up to that point.

Week two saw us writing short stories that revolved around misunderstandings, and began with some howlers and examples of ambiguity in published works!

Week three left us with a homework exercise: to continue a story from a synopsis and opening written in class. Our starting point was 'Positives and Negatives' and we looked at how good things can come from bad and/or vice versa.

Will Lyn's character find a way out of her mounting financial difficulties?
Will Helen's heroine, who risked her own life to save a child, make a full recovery?
Is Sandie's main character, facing redundancy going, to decide that this was a wakeup call and go off travelling before it is too late?
How is the child, in Marc's story, waiting nervously for his music exam going to fare?
What happens as Sue's characters start to blame each other for the multi-car pile up in a busy street?

If you think this sounds like fun you need to be there next week to join in and find out what happens.

Week four will focus on openings and first lines, our own and a few famous ones!

Don't forget we are working towards a short story competition within the group (200 - 500 words) and entries in the Telegraph Short Story Competition (up to 2,000 words and a £500 first prize).

In the next couple of weeks or so we need to be offering things to the group from our notebooks, ie things that we have seen, overheard, been told etc that we have jotted down as possibly providing a stimulus for a story idea.

Also look out for a picture or photograph of someone or something on the island of Lanzarote that you might like to write about.

Hope to see you there, Fridays 11.00 till 13.00 in Costa Teguise.