06 December 2018

#WriteCBC The Big Winter Story – task and tips …

msystic scene with red chair in a winter forest
by Anna Davis Events, Writing Tips

Our Big Winter Story is complete with a title – and it’s  …

The Winter of Stolen Words – from Greg H!

Congratulations, Greg. You win a £50 discount off one of our 6-week online courses. We feel this title says a lot about the story, while also having a mysterious and magical quality about it. Just what we were after!

Here, for your delectation, is the whole story. And check out the illustrations blog to see our pick of the daily illustrations …

The Winter of Stolen Words

Will stopped, mid snowball throw. The chair hadn’t been there a moment ago.

‘What’s up, can’t aim properly?’ Carrie taunted from behind a silvery tree.

‘No, there in the lane.’ He pointed at the velvet chair, stark red against the snow, as if plucked from a stately home.

Carrie, delighted, arranged her threadbare skirts and lowered herself into the chair like a queen. Her smile fell. Almost immediately she could smell a roast dinner, taste the salt on her tongue. Glasses chinked, plates scraped and low voices murmured, saying her name. 

As the snow blindness melted from her eyes she saw row upon row of faceless figures watching. Whispering her name, mulling it over, greedily awaiting her next move and then, when it came, ferociously typing away onto laptops, computers, mobile phones. 

‘The banquet program is failing,’ someone shouted. ‘Fix it or she’ll see us.’

Carrie could smell roast meat again, but she could still see the horrid figures typing away.

‘It’s a real girl,’ someone giggled, ‘from 1899.’

‘But we want the boy,’ said another voice.

‘Will’s smart – you won’t get him and it’s 1578 you dim-wits.’

They adjusted their dials. A sudden flash of light and Will sat shaking beside Carrie.

‘William Shakespeare, most influential human ever, so glad that you could join us!’ Their laughter echoed through the room.

Will was just a boy. Carrie had guarded & loved them all – writers torn from their time by faceless ghosts of the future. They could rewrite stories out of history. But she knew how to save him. “Will, your words are more powerful than theirs! Let’s play pretend again!”

As the two played, the faceless clones withered, morphing into winter trees. Just like when she’d taught the others. The lane reappeared.

“Where did the monsters go?”

“Monsters? You and your imagination,” she said, smoothing over the four indentations in the snow

by Minerva, Heather Abela, Heidi Piercy, Den Cartlidge, Jo Withers, Jennabanezer Scrooge, Adam Cook and Greg H.

That’s the end of our story. So all that remains is to pick an overall winner …

It’s … 

Suspenseful long silence (like they do on TV) …

It’s … Drumroll … 

Jo Withers! 

We were VERY torn about who our overall winner would be – but Jo’s clever twist, introducing a certain Mr Shakespeare, was a real game-changer in this Big Winter Story – so we reckon she is very deserving of the £200 6-week online course. Well done, Jo!

We’d also like to announce some extra runners-up – these were people who wrote great episodes every day. They didn’t quite get selected but they so very NEARLY got selected on more than one occasion that we feel they deserve £50 discounts too. So – the extra runners-up are Emma Finlayson-Palmer, Lucy Hooft, Jeanna Skinner and Ruppert – well done to all of you!

There will be lots of shout-outs on Twitter today, too, to other people whose writing we really enjoyed reading across the many days of this epic Winter challenge.

Thank you to everyone who took part in #WriteCBC’s Big Winter Story. It’s no mean feat to try to write a whole collaborative story across 8 days using only tweets – but we’ve done it! And we followed the dramatic arc too – see below  (well, pretty much, anyway).

#WriteCBC will return on January 3rd with a special new year’s twist – more about that on the blog very soon. Then on Thursday February 7th we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled writing tips and tasks. 

Have a brilliant Christmas break, everyone – and keep writing … 

The Dramatic Arc

This #WriteCBC is underpinned by basic dramatic structure.

Here’s a bit more on the traditional story arc and its relevance to our Big Winter story.

The Opening episode: Set-up – sets up the protagonist and tells us when and where the story is happening

Episode 2 – Inciting Incident – Something happens which is a challenge to the protagonist and a call to action – setting them on a particular course (perhaps a goal to be achieved, a mystery to be solved, a situation to be escaped, etc) to set the story in motion.

Episode 3 – The Confrontation – The protagonist’s attempts to deal with the inciting incident bring about bigger problems/challenges – there’ll be plenty of antagonism/conflict (forces of opposition) going on. The protagonist won’t have the skills/ knowledge needed to get out of his/her difficulty.

Episode 4 – Midpoint – The protagonist has some kind of realisation about what he/she needs to do to resolve the problem/achieve their goal – without yet being able to do it

Episode 5 – Crisis/Reversal – this is where everything goes terribly wrong. The protagonist’s attempts to resolve the situation brings about a dramatic crisis, with the protagonist reaching his/her lowest ebb.

Episode 6 – Climax – Then we want a climax, where our character uses the tools/skills/realisations they’ve gained in some manner of final confrontation or showdown. This can be interpreted in so many ways – anything from a major battle to somebody struggling with their own personal demons in a way that’s completely interior.

Episode 7 – Ending – Our story finds its resolution. I wonder what kind of ending you will write? One of them will win a free place on a £200 course, provided by Caz Frear!



For more detailed advice on plotting, planning and story structure, enrol on one of our three 6-week online courses: Starting to Write Your NovelWrite to the End of Your Novel and Edit & Pitch Your Novel.

For the illustrators among you why not take a look at our online picture book courses taught by popular children’s author-illustrators Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell: Illustrating a Children’s Picture Book, Writing a Children’s Picture Book and Writing and Illustrating a Children’s Picture Book


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