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Using an object to tell a story

The aim of this exercise is to use the power of objects or images to help to illustrate your narrative, especially when working on historical non-fiction. It is too easy to think that you have to adhere strictly to historical facts, dates and events. However, our human experience is far richer and objects can help to breathe life into our writing.

Find an everyday object or one that has a connection to the narrative that you are working on. Put it in front of you, if that is practical.

Turn it around so that you can understand it from all directions, if it is a three dimensional object, or look at it in daylight and artificial light if it is an image.

Try to imagine it might convey a message or meaning, consider where this object has been and what it could tell you if it could speak.

Reflect on what might be interesting about this object to a reader. Does it add colour, texture, historic relevance, humour or even a touch of scandal? Describe what you discover in 150 words.

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Structuring a story

Choose a very famous person, someone whose life-story you know well (e.g. the Queen, Hitler, John Lennon). Imagine…

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Getting started. The first paragraph.

The opening lines of a book set the tone for everything that is to follow. The tense. The…

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Write from experience

The musician Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground) said of his song, Heroin, ‘I wanted to write something that could…

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Starting to write

1. Have your clothes ready at the end of your bed for the next day. Do not waste a…

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The power of objects

Objects have immense power to help us to tell stories. I have found that an entire storyline can…

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