A few weeks ago, I took part in an Apples and Snakes writing workshop led by story teller ‘Sally Pomme Clayton”. The workshop was at the Imperial War Museum and our task was to go through the artefacts on display, choose one item and write something based on it. The steps were to conjure up a character, conjurer up the world of the character and see what comes. We focused on the world of evacuees; kids who were take out of the city of London during the second world war, who stayed in the country side. I found a letter by a girl called Charlotte which simply read: “Dear Daddy, I have eaten the beans I grew, I can tie my shoe laces in a bow. Charlotte”.
We also had to write in the 3rd Person external at first, THEN slip into the 3rd Person internal, which was brilliant. Writing in the 3rd person is typically ‘the voice of god’ which is used a lot in novels, an all seeing, all knowing voice that describes everything and anything. An external 3rd person voice is purely observational, says things as the appear and attempts to hint a emotional depth by which things are focused on. 3rd Persona internal is when the the voice slips into the head of one of the characters and tells you straight up. The interplay between these voices can be quite affecting.
So, this is what I came up with:
The sun is half sunk and slips soundlessly into the room in the way it has done since the summer turned. It brings with it the after rain, damp grass, the watered shell of a beehive and cold stone flowing through the window, past the just-lit lamp, settles comfortably in the kitchen. Charlotte’s sat transfixed on a space just above her pencil tip and the end of the chopping board resting on her lap. The sheet of paper on the board is ruled and waiting for words. Behind, her red coat droops a soft shadow onto her walking boots and the tabby cat purrs greedily rubbing her fur against the buckles.
Mrs Bennet calls from outside startling the cat, “Have you finished yet pumpkin?” Charlotte replies, “almost” and resumes her frown. ‘There are books’ she thinks, ‘rivers that run mayflies and magpies...’ She has watched the fog come in to rest on the house, her dreams aren’t stuffed with smoke anymore and though she tries, her mother’s scent has left her memory. Mrs Bennet calls “I’l be off to milk the goat, when I return we’ll be off to the post office, okay?”
Charlotte lifts the stub of pencil as the dusk light drains away. Mrs Bennet returns, lifts the letter, “Dear Daddy, I have eaten the beans I grew, I can tie my shoe laces in a bow. Charlotte”.