This month, December, we ran a special festive #WriteCBC collaborative challenge on Twitter. We started out with a photo prompt (above) set by the wonderful Marian Keyes – and across eight days we invited writers to tweet potential episodes to create a Big Winter Story. Each day, writers had to respond to the previous day’s episode, following a traditional dramatic arc (well, approximately, anyway!), in a kind of chain-story. We also invited people to contribute illustrations for each episode. Every day we gave away course discounts as prizes to one writer and one illustrator – and at the end of the mayhem we announced one overall writing winner – Jo Withers, and one illustrative winner – Janey H Bailey – both of whom receive a free place on the 6-week online course of their choice.
The end result of all this – The Winter of Stolen Words – is just about as nutty as it could get, but we reckon there are touches of brilliance in this seasonal madness … See what you think …
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.
- J J Shippen, 2. Janey H Bailey, 3. Jennifer Bolmer, 4. Janey H Bailey, 5. Danielle Devlin, 6. Leah, 7. Jennifer Bolmer (who sent us a marvellous extra one even after the illustrations competition had finished!)
- Minerva, 2. Heather Abela, 3. Heidi Piercy, 4. Den Cartlidge, 5. Jo Withers, 6. Jenna, 7. Adam Cook, and title by Greg H
For more detailed advice on plotting, planning and story structure, enrol on one of our three 6-week online courses: Starting to Write Your Novel, Write 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