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Tidying Up — Prose, Poetry and Place

Tidying Up — Prose, Poetry and Place

Wow, where has the time gone! Today I am headed home, first semester of my creative writing over, bar the writing. With, at most, a 5 percent discretion, I have to write:

  • a 6,000-word section of a novel, and
  • a 2,000 word reflective essay on the long form fiction piece;
  • 2,000–3,000 words of poetry, and
  • a 2,000-word reflective essay on the poetry;
  • a 45-page movie script.

Rules and regulations

Now, live your own life, I'll tell you for why
You're gonna be around when they all die off
The future life ought to be a weight off your shoulders

You'll feel a little bit bolder
And in the photograph folder
A-there will be faded pictures of
The rules and regulations
Rules and regulations
Rules and regulations
(lyrics from Rules and Regulations by Donovan)

The long form fiction module has, for me, been a bit of a trial by fire. I started writing a story set in Paris at the time of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the Eagles of Death Metal attack. When it became apparent that there was no way I could squeeze a Paris research trip in before Christmas I asked the tutor if I could use the same story I was doing as a movie script in the Screenwriting module. “Yes,” she said. This week I had a tutorial with the person who'll be marking my assignment ... “No,” she said.

We considered other options, such as re-writing the story from a different character's point of view and changing the dialogue and character traits, but I couldn't see that working; the characters effectively have a life of their own now and trying to tell them to talk a different way just didn't seem possible. I've decided my best option is to return to the Paris storyline but move it away from Paris to a fictional French-speaking city where a different type of tragedy has happened. The characters (who are only briefly sketched out compared to the screenplay characters) can then use their dialogue and actions without needing to be set in a place I would feel the need to visit. This might be the biggest challenge I face in the next 3 weeks, but it might also be a liberating shift, drawing me away from real world locations and letting my imagination run wild :)


The Poetry 1 module will, in terms of content, be the easiest one for me to finish. I have plenty of material to use, the hardest task will be deciding which poems I want to use for this assignment and which to keep for my final dissertation. Material put through the Turnitin system to check for plagiarism would flag up anything that had appeared in a previous module, so I need to select a balance of enough of my best work to keep my marks high, whilst not using it all in this assignment and being left using weaker pieces in my final dissertation. All things considered, there are worse problems to have! :)


a couple of hours after posting this I'll be headed home to focus on all that writing, indulging in Christmas cake and chocolates, and enjoying taking baths again after almost 3 months of nothing but showers. a minimum of 12,000 words and a 45 page movie script will, I estimate, mean I need to write about 1500–2000 words per day, allowing for significant re-writes as I go along. I'm mentally aiming to get all my work completed by New Year's Eve, leaving me a few days to make sure my submitted documents have headers and page numbers on every page, a bibliography page in both reflective essays, and there are absolutely no spelling or grammar mistakes. The formatting of the documents will, in all likelihood, cause me more stress than writing the words! I'll update you next week with how progress is going :)

#Poetry #Prose #Screenplay #Examinations #Assessments

Published incompetitions and submissionseducationPoetrytechnology


  1. Nell Nelson Nell Nelson

    Surely it CAN’T (that was in CAPS) be two to three THOUSAND (also in CAPs) words of poetry? That would be insane! You can’t measure poetry by length, but maybe it might be two to three hundred words? Any more than that would require a serious rebellion.

    But as for all the rest: a piece of cake. You will walk it!

  2. Giles Giles

    I’m glad you say that about the assignment length, Nell! Can I quote you on that when I flunk it by only submitting 10 percent of what I’m supposed to do? 😉

    The guideline is for 2000-3000 words of poetry. That is about what my Dressing Up pamphlet contained I think. About 20 poems in total if they are all 100 word poems, 30 if they are shorter like my usual style. For Poetry 2 next semester it’ll be the same amount and, for my final dissertation it’ll be 6,000 words of poetry.

    This is the handbook section for Poetry 1:

    EN-M36: POETRY 1 (Alan Kellermann)
    This module consists of a series of workshops leading the student through the theory and practice of writing poetry: short assignments will be set every week, and these will be brought to the workshop to be considered communally. The course will be taught by a fluid mingling of lecture, group discussion and workshop-based exercises; verse techniques will be clarified by the reading and discussion of named works of poetry, shedding light of creative practice by exercises in mimesis and parody. The workshops will last for up to three hours, with, in addition, sessions of individual mentoring on a one-to-one basis with a tutor.

    It will be evaluated by a portfolio consisting of exercises in lyric and narrative poetry, of not more than 3,000 words.

    For me the poetry module is the easiest of the three, becuase I’ve never written a screenplay before and don’t have much practice of doing dialogue from my poetry, and it’s a long time since I wrote prose fiction at Master’s level! 🙂 xx

  3. You can write poetry in your sleep. LOL Good thing, because you might have to. I like the idea of removing the real-life Paris assignment for the setting and making it another town based on that setting, but where you can turn and twist things to your liking because no one can go there and say, “Oh, no, this corner doesn’t belong here! There’s no little café on that street!” It sounds like lots of work, but also lots of fun coming up over the holiday. Enjoy!

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