The Bruntwood Prize funders have organised a number of live streams, that can be rewatched, as companions to the competition. I watched Chris Thorpe's film yesterday. He ran a workshop with several excercises. I didn't do them all as I had to leave halfway and coming back to it as a recording somewhat removed the frission to write. However, I did manage to produce a short story from one of the first tasks - to write a piece about someone entering a room to find something. Here it is:
He kicked in the door. Holding the gun out front, he scanned each corner of the room. It was empty. He put away the gun and kicked the broken lock to the wall. He considered leaving - if she wasn’t here, what chance would there be of finding it. He’d look anyway.
He started with the cupboard behind the door. It was dented by the doorknob. Inside, the found coats and dresses. He touched on that he recognised. She’d worn it on their fourth date. It was a light blue chiffon. He still wasn’t sure what chiffon was. He tugged it towards him and held it against his cheek. He’d put his head on her lap as they’d sat by the fountain on their second date. They’d tried to sound how much money was in it.
He held it to his nose but it didn’t smell of her. He closed the doors. He turned to the bed - the covers had been pulled back. A nightdress peaked from under a pillow. He sat on the bed and placed his hand on the pillow. It was cold.
He stared at the wardrobe. This felt wrong but he had to find it. If she still cared, she’d have it on her but if not, it might be here. He pulled open the drawer on the side table. It was empty except for a Gideon’s bible. He pulled it out. He didn’t think they still had these in rooms. It was heavy. He wondered when it had last been read. He opened it. Inside a hollowed-out section lay they gun he’d given her on that date. He’d told her that he killed a man. His first. The tears had soaked into the dress. ‘You’ll need this he’d said,’ handing her the gun. ‘Keep it somewhere safe but always close by. They’ll be coming.’
I found his view on writing excercises and their relationship to play writing pragmatic and satisfying. I also enjoyed his insights into what he has found beautiful (theatrical?) in the theatre: those moments where the piece seems to transcend the performance perhaps through making the moment feel now and alive, rather than rehearsed from a script.
This weekend I'm attending a course on writing a science fiction film on a budget, supported by the BFI. Next week, I'm on an Arvon play writing course.