Creative writers meet horror author
Our Creative Writing scholars enjoyed a lunchtime workshop with visiting author (Alexander) Gordon Smith on Tuesday 7 November, at which they heard about his decision aged 11 to become a horror writer; how to overcome writer’s block: “it’s like hurdles, you’ll get better at getting over them quicker the more you practise”; and the impact that writing for a publisher rather than for yourself can have on your writing.
After lunch Gordon conducted a two hour workshop with our Year 7 students who are commencing a project to write their own ghost stories in English lessons. Gordon told the girls about the first horror story he ever wrote. Aged six, he made a book out of cardboard with the scariest creatures imaginable and, when presenting the book to his mother, he was afraid that he would make her cry because of how scary the book was. When his mother laughed, he was quite upset, but despite the disappointment he thought ‘if all the other authors in the library can do it – so can I!’.
He explained that an author’s job is essentially to “cause trouble for your characters”, otherwise the story would be boring. In real life we have to overcome obstacles, and so a good story ensures your character is never the same at the end of the book as they were at the start. Gordon’s top tips to create ideas for a horror story were to write a list of everything that scares you, and also to consider constantly for a few days ‘what if?’ as you go through your day to day life. What if someone who is supposed to be trustworthy suddenly turns? What if gravity stops working? What if, one day, your reflection did something different to you?
Many thanks to our Head of English, Mr David Walker, for organising this energising opportunity for our students, and to Gordon for returning to the school having been our guest speaker at last year’s Creative Writing Competition final.