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Fashioning Fiction From Fact

Syd's workshop

Syd Moore, seen here on the right, followed last night’s talk with a two part workshop. After a brief introduction, she divided the audience into groups and gave each a set of fairly random stimuli around which to construct a plot. My group had to include the renovation of an old house, a ghostly voice repeating  ‘The cutter’ and Matthew Hopkins (again!) who may or may not have died of TB on a Caribbean island.

The second session saw the original groups broken up and new ones working on characterisation, each individual having chosen to concentrate on someone from the earlier scenario. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting – to be honest, I’d rather have heard more about Syd’s own writing – but a useful exercise nevertheless.

Our evening speaker was retired Chief Constable Michael O’Byrne, a Swanwick stalwart who never fails to entertain. The Unprepared Surviving The Unexpected, although serious in parts, brought the house down. We learnt that it’s the smell rather than the sight of dead bodies that makes policemen faint and that the aroma can be reproduced – should any crime writer wish – by keeping fish and prawns in a plastic bag exposed to the sunshine for three days. My particular favourite amongst Michael’s many anecdotes was that of the police officer who arrested a rich heiress in London. At the time, she was driving erratically at about 5mph and bouncing off other cars ‘as though trying to read Braille’. He was running beside her Rolls Royce and eventually managed to wrench open a door and stop the car. What a shame no one was around to record the scene and post it on You Tube!

12 August, 2013 - Make the first comment on this story

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