Pre* – Proofreading and Editing

The Safe House brings you Pre*, a proofreading and editing service that gives you more.

At Pre* we will help you:

  • obliterated parking sign close upcheck for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and issues of sentence structure.
  • communicate your meaning and your voice to your audience.
  • get your message across clearly and accurately.
  • develop your writing, proofreading and editing skills.
  • make the most of your communication.

Pre* can help all sorts of writers with all sorts of writing. We will help you with:

  • assignments, essays, portfolios, dissertations.
  • job application forms, introduction letters personal statements and biographies.
  • flyers, leaflets, posters, business cards.
  • reports, e-mails, business and official letters.
  • blog posts, stories, poems.
  • long texts, short texts.
  • fiction or non-fiction.

italian dog logoIf you would like more information about Pre* – Proofreading and Editing at The Safe House, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of this part of the work of The Safe House.


This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

hand black and white square logo

Click the image for more information.



The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions


The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions are for anybody to read and / or do. They can be done independently online or in structured group sessions delivered by The Safe House.

The sessions encourage structure and creativity in writing through presenting a stimulus and a guide on how to approach each specific writing task. Participants are encouraged to use each session to produce a short piece of creative writing.

For more information on the Flash Fiction Writing Sessions at The Safe House go here.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own Flash Fiction Writing sessions with us, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

The Cardboard Library

girl moon umbrella butterflies adana1The Cardboard Library sessions are creative writing development sessions.

Participants are led through a series of stimulating journeys, both real and virtual, which form the catalyst for poetry, flash fiction and short story writing. The products from these sessions are collated and presented by The Safe House as The Cardboard Library, a hand-made occasional ‘magazine’ showcasing new creative writing talent.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

Left Luggage

The Left Luggage project is based around a series of walkshop events comprising:

  • poetry reading.
  • local sights and landmarks.
  • walking, talking, discovery and writing.cat on the luggage

The Left Luggage sessions involve walks in the outdoors, poetry readings and discussion. They focus on understanding, analysis, comparison and appreciation of poetry as well as offering an opportunity to read and hear poetry in the fresh air.

These sessions could be particularly useful for anybody who is working towards GCSE or A Level English Literature qualifications.

Of course, practice in understanding poetry for national qualifications is not the only benefit of the Left Luggage sessions  and we are sure that they will inspire participants to seek out more poetry and maybe even write some too!

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions either as an  attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own sessions as part of the Left Luggage series, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

Science is proving … highlighted text

(A Vocabulary Extension Session from The Safe House)
Use the highlighted words to build your own vocabulary extension map (VEP?)

Do you have a fear of spiders? Maybe snakes? It could be your ancestors trying to tell you something. Recent studies have provided evidence that memories of fear are one of many things our forebearers pass down to us through our DNA.

A 2013 study from Emory University found that  mice trained to fear a specific odor would pass their emotions on to their offspring and future generations. Scientists applied electric shocks to mice as they exposed them to the smell of cherry blossoms. The mice then bred, and both the children and grandchildren of the affected rodents demonstrated a fear of cherry blossoms the first time they smelled them.

“Our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations,” Dr. Brian Dias of the Emory University department of psychiatry said to the Daily Telegraph. “Such a phenomenon may contribute to the etiology and potential intergenerational transmission of risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The study went beyond just observing a fear reaction. Scientists actually looked at the brains of the animals and found physical changes in the areas that process odors, and also found a marker on the odor gene of the mouse DNA.

The experiment worked even when the researchers used artificial insemination in place of allowing the mice to breed naturally. The scientists still aren’t sure how the fear imprint makes it into the sperm — whether the smell itself passes through the blood, or the brain processes the odor and sends its own signal.

“It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously,” Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London said to the BBC. “I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach.”

Humans have long sought to understand memory and heredity, nature vs. nurture and how much information parents actually transmit to their children. The nature study is another step toward answering our questions about exactly what, and how much of our forebearers’ experiences get passed down through DNA.

Primordial Fears

There is already a growing body of research about how humans and other animals inherit fear from their ancestors. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 found that primates’ brains are uniquely tuned to recognize snakes, suggesting that we gained an innate fear of the reptiles over the course of our evolutionary development. A 2011 study in Current Directions in Psychological Science found that human infants aren’t necessarily afraid of snakes from birth, but they learn to fear them more quickly than they learn to fear other more innocuous stimuli like flowers and rabbits.

“What we’re suggesting is that we have these biases to detect things like snakes and spiders really quickly, and to associate them with things that are yucky or bad, like a fearful voice,” study co-author Vanessa LoBue of Rutgers University said in a press release. The research built on previous work by LoBue and her team that showed that people were able to identify snakes and spiders more quickly than other animals and objects. There’s even evidence that primates actually developed large brains and keen eyesight as a defense measure to avoid falling prey to snakes.

Another study found that unborn crickets whose mothers were stalked by wolf spiders showed more fear of spiders after they were born than control crickets — not to mention a higher survival rate. At this point there’s little doubt that fear gets passed down through the generations — now we’re learning about how.

Rewriting The DNA

Fear isn’t the only thing that gets imprinted in our genes. Recent breakthroughs have made big strides in understanding epigenetics — how our DNA gets changed by environmental factors. A study published in 2013 revealed details about how certain aspects of DNA can be turned on or turned off, and therefore passed on to offspring or not. A report last year found that Crohn’s disease can cause epigenetic changes in people who suffer from it. And scientists were able to edit the DNA of mice to cure them of an inheritable liver disease — with hope that the same process would work in humans.

Other researchers are working on how to encode DNA with specific information. A study led by synthetic biologist Timothy Lu of MIT and published in Science in 2014 found a way to rewrite living DNA in a cell and watch as the altered information was transferred to new cells. The researchers changed cells to make them sense light and react to other stimuli. Next, they hope to use the technology to make a recording of the cell’s environment for study, such as placing the cells in water for a week and then testing them for toxins.

Other scientists have managed to etch the equivalent of a megabyte worth of data onto DNA, and then read it back. Both studies are more geared toward gathering and storing information, but the more we learn about how to change DNA, the possibility looms that we could learn how memories are implanted — and someday even artificially create hereditary memories, if scientific interest and ethics allowed such an outcome.

Beyond The Physical Realm

The idea of memories being written into DNA could provoke speculation about phenomenon like visions of past lives, although it might be a leap to go from a reaction to odor to the recall of specific and discrete memories.

Polish Professor of Pedogogy Andrzej Szyszko-Bohusz has worked since the 1960s to promote a theory of genetic immortality in which parental consciousness is transmitted to children along with DNA and other hereditary information. More recently, University of Virginia (UVA) professor Jim Tucker hypothesizes that consciousness needs no physical binding at all to pass on. Tucker, who studies children who have memories of past lives, claims that quantum physics suggests that our physical world is created by our consciousness. Therefore,

“consciousness doesn’t need the world, let alone a brain, to exist,”

and could simply affix itself to a new brain once it passes out of a dying one.

“I understand the leap it takes to conclude there is something beyond what we can see and touch,” Tucker said to UVA Magazine. “But there is this evidence here that needs to be accounted for, and when we look at these cases carefully, some sort of carry-over of memories often makes the most sense.”

He calls it the science of reincarnation. Whether he is on the right track, or we discover that memories are passed down by DNA all along, or there is some other mechanism we don’t know about yet, is still to be determined.

Text at:



  1. Work more and better
  2. work by a schedule
  3. wash teeth if any
  4. shave
  5. take bath
  6. eat good – fruit – vegetables – milk
  7. drink very scant, if any
  8. write a song a day
  9. wear clean clothes – look good
  10. shine shoes
  11. change socks
  12. change bed clothes often
  13. read lots good books
  14. listen to radio a lot
  15. learn people better
  16. keep rancho clean
  17. don’t get lonesome
  18. stay glad
  19. keep hoping machine running
  20. dream good
  21. bank all extra money
  22. save dough
  23. have company but don’t waste time
  24. send Mary and kids money
  25. play and sing good
  26. dance better
  27. help win war – beat fascism
  28. love mama
  29. love papa
  30. love Pete
  31. love everybody
  32. make up your mind
  33. wake up and fight

kerouac list

Time is a Trick of the Mind

imageJack Kerouac’s list of stuff to do .. jUst cLicK tHe iMage.

kerouac list


Choose five of Jack Kerouac’s ‘new years Resolutions’ and use sequencers to create a narrative paragraph.

Creativity with regard to time frame and order of events is the way to engage your reader, for sure!

clock green

jUst cLicK tHe ClocK

About This Person

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

This session involves a bit of old fashioned detective work. You could imagine Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, you could be more daring and think of someone like Anthony Horowitz’s Jim Diamond, or you could fall back on someone like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marples and think about how she might have pieced the clues together.

a rolled up noteIn the poem, About His Person, Simon Armitage creates a sense of melancholic mystery using the contents of a man’s pockets listed almost matter-of-factly, giving the reader tantalising insights into the life and even character of this man.

Not only this, but Armitage also invites us to imagine the context in which this man’s possessions are being listed.

Here is Simon Armitage’s poem:

About His Person

Five pounds fifty in change, exactly,
a library card on its date of expiry.
A postcard stamped,
unwritten, but franked,
a pocket size diary slashed with a pencil
from March twenty-fourth to the first of April.
A brace of keys for a mortise lock,
an analogue watch, self winding, stopped.
A final demand
in his own hand,
a rolled up note of explanation
planted there like a spray carnation
but beheaded, in his fist.
A shopping list.
A givaway photograph stashed in his wallet,
a keepsake banked in the heart of a locket,
no gold or silver,
but crowning one finger
a ring of white unweathered skin.
That was everything.

He is surely dead, isn’t he? The title, with its play on the official crime jargon used to introduce a description of items found on a dead body,  gives the reader that much. But how did he die? Who is making the list? Is it a policeman? The coroner? A forensic criminologist just out of university with the task of piecing together the man’s world in order to assist in discovering the truth about his death?

We, the reader, don’t know. We have plenty of clues, but can they tell us anything for certain?

Fact or fiction? Who knows.

Write a paragraph speculating on the significance of objects found on a dead body.

The poem and the objects described are the stimulus for this piece of writing.


Armitage presents a number of everyday objects for his readers to ‘use’ to piece together the story of the dead man. For example, there is ‘five pounds fifty in change’, a ‘library card on its date of expiry’, a postcard. All of these things give us clues about who the man was. A rich man? An avid reader? Who was the postcard for? Similarly, Armitage describes the man’s diary which had a number of dates ‘slashed with a pencil’. What happened between March 24th and April 1st? What was the note? Who wrote it? Why has it been ‘beheaded’? We, the reader, don’t know but we can make guesses, we can speculate. There are many more ‘clues’ until finally we are made aware of something that is different because it is not there. What could be the significance of the ‘ring of white unweathered skin’? 

simon_armitage_credit_paul_wolfgang_websterIn this session, you are invited to take some or all of the objects listed in the poem and write a paragraph describing what you think they tell us about the man.

Word count
It’s a paragraph so, unless you want to emulate the incredible Roberto Bolaño and write sentences that are longer than some other writers’ chapters, this won’t be too long. 250 words? 500 max., we reckon.

As in all of The Safe House Flash Fiction Writing Sessions, the length of time you spend is entirely up to you. We would think, though, that you might want to spend about an hour on this to make it into a complete paragraph with carefully constructed sentences and accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Well, the stimulus is a poem but you could fit this to all sorts of genre. Crime fiction comes to mind, obviously, or even crime reporting. You, the writer should choose.

Point of View
Pretty sure this would usually be third person, but you might want to write it from the point of view of the detective who is trying to piece together the clues about the dead man. You, the writer, should choose.

Of course, you will need to read the poem. And probably read it again.

Then, it might be good to make a list of the items you are going to focus on in your paragraph and link them to notes from your ‘detective-like’ thinking. This list, and the notes that go with them, will form the research and planning stage of your writing. There is no need to worry about sentences or accuracy yet.

Next, you could take each of the objects and the notes in turn and construct a sentence which explains the significance of the object. You could then join these together using linking words to form longer sentences and, eventually, a whole paragraph.

When you have a first draft of the paragraph, take a short break and then come back to it and read what you have written. Think about the meaning of the sentences you have written and, if there is any confusion, edit your writing so that your meaning is clear to your reader.

The next stage involves reading again, carefully and checking for spelling, punctuation and grammar problems. These need to be sorted out so that you are not embarrassed at a later stage and so that your reader doesn’t get distracted from the points you are making.

Make sure you are happy for people to read your writing!

italian dog logoWhat next?

If 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:


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

This IS The Safe House – “We can take you to a better place.”


Jeff the Iguana

By Lewis Dunmore

I came home from holiday in Tenerife and finally fell on my bed out of exhaustion.

Eventually, I opened my suitcase, grabbed my phone and without warning saw my bag fall over.I went to grab it when suddenly a scaly head popped out. It was a large pale green lizard which swiftly made a run for it under my bed. I grabbed a torch, checked my bed and saw a lizard sitting there.

To my astonishment, I identified it to be an iguana and looked at it in wonder. It had bright red spines on its back that looked liked knives or the back of a small stegosaurus. After that, I slowly pushed the door shut, grabbed a washing basket from the corner of my room and I held it above the lizard. I was thinking of how to get it out when I heard my dogs barking. Then, all of a sudden, the iguana bolted out from the bed and into the open. I slammed the basket onto the floor and trapped it. It froze on the spot! I shouted for my mum and dad and explained how the lizard had somehow got into my bag.

Then, the next day, me and my dad went to the shops and bought a lizard tank and we have kept Jeff ever since.

I think he’s happy.

Writing Backstory

Lewis wrote this story using a fairly straightforward writing method which involved reading a text for stimulus, conversation about and consideration of the scenario, guided written note-taking and planning, drafting, proof reading, editing and redrafting. 

The process was fairly intensive and Lewis got tired at the end of the last session. At the time, he was happy to leave it as it is. I think he could probably go back and edit his story a bit more, if he felt like it.

He could maybe look at avoiding repetition of some words; ‘suddenly’ stands out as one word that could do with a synonym of some kind!

He could also look at sequencing words and phrases to give a bit more emphasis on specific events and to engage the reader with the whole story.

What do you think?

Maps through your Bones and Skin

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)There are maps

This is a short poem by Christopher Poindexter.

It would be so easy to do an “All Curious Cats” analysis on this poem.

The poem seems to make the point that our past thoughts and experiences  act on our physical appearance and offer evidence, in the present, of our pasts.

Things in the past are connected to the present.


Write a paragraph where someone talks about their past experiences and how they have made them the person they are today.


Take a look at the links behind these phrases.

Choose one of the people involved, or create a character based on one of these people. Write about how their experiences have changed them in some way.


The task here is to reflect on the experiences of the people involved and imagine how they have affected the character’s lives and perhaps still affect them in the present.

You could write in the first person, which means you will need to imagine how this person feels about his or her past experiences and describe them as if you, the writer, have been in their shoes.

Or, you could use the third person, in which case you will still need to use your imagination but you can also take on the role of omnipotent author and describe things that your character perhaps does not consciously know or feel.

Word count and process

watts quoteThe first thing to do is to look at the links and choose one. Read the information in detail and make notes about the things that have happened and the effects they have had on your character. Think about the physical, but also about the emotional changes that have happened. How has your character’s life been changed? Has his or her appearance changed? Has their work life  been affected? Have your character’s personal relationships been more difficult because of what has happened?

Take your notes and turn them into sentences. You could imagine that the person is talking to a friend and trying to explain what has happened and why they are the way they are today. Maybe your character is apologising for something that has happened as a result of their past experiences and the effect it has had on them.

Write as much as you can then take a break. Read what you have written and edit it. You might want to add bits of detail, delete things you have written, change the order of events. You might want to think again about the causes and effects you have described and rewrite all of it.

This is quite a complex exercise as you are writing explanations for things that have happened in the past. You should probably aim for at least 500 words if not more. A thousand…?

When you have written your piece and are happy with what you have included and the order in which you have written it, have a look again but this time for issues of accuracy. Check for spelling, punctuation and grammar. In particular, check that your piece makes sense in terms of the tenses you have used.

Make sure you are happy for people to read your writing!

What next?

italian-dog-logo2.jpegIf 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:


At This IS The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating.