- MUSIC FOCUS: Inspired by the music of Linkin Park.
- ACTIVITY FOCUS: Write chapter 2 of your story!
Chapter 2: Fallout
For the whole of registration, I’m annoyed. By the fact that Josh gets to leave the house half an hour after me. By the fact that he still arrives at school at the same time. By the fact that he never offers me a lift.
But then it’s English.
It’s the best lesson of the day. We’re studying poetry and although we’ve looked at Shakespeare, Owen, all the obvious stuff, we’ve also been set our own individual projects. We’ve had to pick our own favourite pieces of poetry and work on those.
“What if I don’t have a favourite poem?” one of the girls in my class asked when the project was set. “What if I hate every poem ever written? Does that mean I don’t have to do anything?”
The girl’s name is Charity and the rest of us are simply living in her fallout zone. Seriously. If everything’s going smoothly, then you can be pretty sure Charity’s probably not in the room.
For my own project, I chose to use lyrics from songs by Faint December. Mrs Hill asked me to justify my choice. I did, and she seemed pleased, like she’d have done the same kind of thing if it had been her doing the task.
At lunchtime, Amber has a music lesson. I wait for her for five minutes before remembering. I dig into my bag for my packed lunch. It’s not there. Immediately, I picture it where I left it. Between the bowl of fruit and the Coco Pops. Drat. No Amber. No sandwich. By the time I get to the canteen, all the best food has gone. I queue for a plated meal and use the fingerprint scan to pay for it. I’m still not sure that the school are within their rights to force us to use a system that necessitates all pupils being fingerprinted.
Chloe waves at me from the middle of the canteen. Lia looks up and smiles too. I smile back and sit down next to my friends.
“How’s your day been?” Lia asks, looking sympathetically at my plate of mush.
“Suckfest,” I tell her, holding up a forkful of food as evidence.
After lunch, it’s Drama. No one ever takes the lesson seriously and by the time I arrive, the classroom is already in chaos.
“Welcome to the jungle,” Amber says as I look over at Mr Corzone.
He’s the kind of teacher who always tries to act as if everything’s going exactly the way he planned it. We know it never is. Amber and I do try to do what we’re asked, though. Today, he wants us to create a series of freeze frames that represent the state of the teenage mind.
“The ironic thing is that this carnage,” Amber grimaces, “probably does say quite a lot about the average teenage mind.”
“But not yours, Queen Amber? You’re so much above the common masses?”
Amber points her nose in the air.
“Well, of course I am.”
“Good girls,” says Mr Corzone as he walks past.
When he’s gone, we roll our eyes. If him telling us we’re doing a good job makes him feel like he’s teaching us something, we aren’t going to burst his bubble.
“At least he lets us choose our own groups to work in,” Amber says. “Imagine if you had to work with them.”
She nods in the direction of the nitwits. Every word I hear come out of their mouths is sexist or racist or some other kind of ‘ist’. But as usual there’s no one around to put them in detention. Or – better – prison.
“It’s so wrong,” Amber cringes.
I should take a picture. She’s fulfilling Mr Corzone’s task perfectly.
Thankfully, the bell rings. The end of another day.
Write chapter 2 of your story. Consider the areas summarised below:
Take a ‘walk’ through an average day. In this example, the chapter is broken into 5 moments. Short snapshots of these moments is enough to create a sense of the world your character’s inhabiting, whilst keeping the pace up. Don’t get overly bogged down in detail. Take the opportunity to reinforce and introduce the characters that are going to be important. Maybe you’ll just glimpse a character as they cycle past, or maybe your character receives a text from a previously unintroduced friend, or maybe the register gets taken and we get that first chance just to hear someone’s name… There are zillions of ways of slipping a new character into your story without necessarily making a big deal of it.
Plan for the characters you want involved in your story. Drop them into the background of your narrative – give them a ‘soft’ introduction.
Try using these techniques:
- repetition for effect
- symbolism (Daisy will be caught between these kind of options repeatedly – in this case it’s the fruit that represents the ‘healthy’ path, the Coco Pops that symbolise the more problematic but more likely path).
- a word with double meaning (“lift” in the literal, practical sense, but also in the more abstract, emotional sense).
- carefully chosen metaphors
Looking to develop your creative writing even further? Have a look at our ‘FTRE’ series.