With Expert Eyes

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

on looking book coverThe idea for this session came from Maria Popova’s Brainpickings review of a book by Alexandra Horowitz called ‘On Looking’.

Activity:

Take a walk (real or virtual), and record sights, sounds, smells, from a particular point of view.

Stimulus:

The stimulus for this session consists of two UK postcodes.

They are:

  • LE1 3PH
  • LE4 5AQ

Guide:

Use the internet, probably Google Maps, and find the route from the first postcode to the second. Google Maps will give you two routes. Choose the second route, which takes you down Church Gate.

It looks something like this:route

Follow the route. If you live in the region, you could follow the route in real life. If not, you can still take part in the session by clicking the yellow man on Google maps. By doing this, you will be able to take the walk ‘virtually’!

Imagine, as you walk (or ‘walk’), that you are one of these:

Your dog

Your brother

Your mother

Your dad

A three-year-old girl

An eighty-three year old man

A builder

A bus driver

An architect

A skateboarder

A cyclist

A homeless person

A historian

A geologist

An entomologist (?)

A person in love (!)

A person who is lost.

01 church gateWhile you are travelling along the route, make notes, either in your mind, in a notebook or with a memo app on your phone about what, as that person (or animal), you might focus on during your journey. What would this person’s (or animal’s) attention be drawn to? What would be her, his or its point of view.

When you have finished your journey, take your notes and turn them into a narrative of the journey from the point of view you have been adopting.

You could begin by stating the day, or the time, or both:

‘It was a Wednesday morning, about eleven o’clock when I left the Clock Tower. I …’

Or you could write in the third person:

‘It was a Wednesday morning, about eleven o’clock when Florrie left the Clock Tower. She …’

You, the writer, will decide how your journey starts and ends.

Word count and process

03 st margarets way underpassWe might be aiming for a 500 word piece of writing here. Of course, it could be shorter or longer. You, the writer, will decide.

After the journey, find somewhere comfortable where you can read or recall the notes you made and also write the piece.

Try and keep writing for about five minutes and then take a short break. Then write for another five minutes and take a short break. Keep on until you are at your destination, or too exhausted to go on!

04 abbey parkHave a longer rest. Have something to eat, something to drink. Writing, like a walk through the streets, will take it out of you. You need rest and refreshment before you go on.

When you are able, spend some time re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising, re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising again and again for as long as you can.

When you have done this and you are feeling ready, spend time proof-reading again for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and to check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it. Save what you have written.

What next?

Brian at VictoriaIf you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

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