BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

Monday Creative Writing Exercise because it’s a good way to start the week: Magic for grown ups

icarus

photo credit: Iguana Jo via photopin cc

Magic Realism is a literary genre where extraordinary and magical things happen but – and this is probably the defining quality – the characters in the story treat them as everyday reality. Nowadays we tend to associate the term with the works of Latin American writers such as Isabel Allende, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gabriel Garcia Marrquez. In Latin America the term translates to marvellous reality which may be a better way of thinking about it.

Writers in the past have also blurred the line between reality and fantasy. The Russian author Gogol wrote a short story in the 1830s about a nose which took off and started a career for itself and Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels a hundred years earlier. An immediate success, it has never been out for print since and it’s worth re-reading, especially if you only read it as a child.

EXERCISE

Choose a character from one of these:

*Hospital doctor in accident and emergency

*Single mother shopping

*School dinner lady about to serve lunch

*Politician just about to make a speech

*Bank cashier counting out money

*Teenager on first date

*Youth worker starting a difficult session 

What happens

Y
our character starts to grow wings.
You decide what kind of wings and how he or she responds. No introduction – dive in with the first sensation, an itch around the shoulder blades.

This is a classic creative writing exercise – certainly not original to me – but it seems to plug into a powerful human desire that hasn’t been quenched by the aviation industry. Think of all the stories we have about flying from Icarus in Greek mythology to Harry Potter today and all the myths about angels, witches and fairies inbetween that come from every corner of the world.

See where the idea goes and remember to include gritty, ordinary detail about the humdrum world your character inhabits.

Angel
photo credit: bogenfreund via photopin cc

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