Monday, 11 April 2011


Judge Wilson looked down at the huge stack of papers on his desk and sighed. Paper, paper, that’s all my life seems to be revolving around. His latest case was that of a mass murder. He shook his head when he thought about it. The defence had everything, proof against the crime, eye-witnesses disagreeing with what the prosecutor’s client saw, and above all, a staggering amount of money.

Something was bothering him though, he just couldn’t place his finger on it. He reviewed the file countless times, again and again, looking for something against the man who reputedly killed those 5 innocent people. Maybe they’re right, perhaps this is just a misunderstanding. People get confused, hell, I do more times than I can count. The case had lasted for weeks, Judge Wilson had done everything he could to extend the case, looking for clues that would tell him if the man actually did it… Action would have to be taken this morning, if not, the case would have to shut down.

Judge Wilson recalled the time when he was still a boy, his teacher questioning him on why he wanted to become a judge.

‘M-m-mister Scott, you wanted to see me?’

Mr Scott’s office was a large, menacing room, surrounded by dark, thick walls. Heavy wooden chairs sat next to the looming front desk. Mr Scott’ office was not a place most kids wanted to be.

‘ Ah yes, Jeffrey, please sit down. Now, don’t worry you’re not in trouble. I just wanted to ask you something. An interesting remark came on your report this morning. It was the career selection. Now, most kids your age chose rockstar, basketball player, racer, but you chose, judge. Why is that?’

‘ I-I want to put evil people behind bars, where they belong, sir’

‘ Hmmm… Well Jeffrey, answer me this one question, if all the evidence pointed towards a man saying that he was guilty, but deep down inside, you knew he was not, what would you do? Would you let him go free, or sentence him to prison?’

‘I-I would let him go free sir.’

Judge Wilson never knew if he had answered what his teacher wanted him to. Shaking his head once more, he headed up to the courthouse.

‘Order, order!’ Judge Wilson shouted. ‘The court is ready to continue the case of Dr. Mathew Parkman, the prosecutor, against Mr. Alan Flint.’ Time blurred past. Judge Wilson sighed. It looked as if the man was going to go free after all. Just as he was about to declare the case closed, he looked at the accuse murderer. The tantalizing smell of freedom dulled his senses, and for a moment, his mask slipped. At that moment, Judge Wilson saw the evil, the hatred, the deceit in that man. He thought he would just walk away, freely.

Judge Wilson knew the consequences of what he was about to do. He could lose his job, his life, his friends. Nothing, however, shook that sense of justice from his mind. He took a deep breath and stood up with a fierce determination in his eye. His hammer ringed down thrice, each strike resonating powerfully throughout the courtroom. ‘Mr. Flint declared guilty. Case over.’

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

I believe this extract is the best, considering it has an oddly compelling and mysterious ring to it... It starts off in a sense of confusion, with no one knowing what's going on and what's happening, slowly being filled in, then the abrupt but resonating end... Fantastic piece of writing..

Sunday, 10 April 2011

1983 by David Peace

This extract is definitely an attention grabbing one, mainly because it immediately starts off with suspense where the reader wants to know what is going on. Also the idea of the repetition going on through the plot at the end is reversed giving it a unique, although graphic idea. Knots and Crosses was also favorable due to the simplicity of it which adds just enough curiosity to keep you reading and the atmosphere of it, giving a rather classic crime fiction vibe.

Not Just a Dream...

There I was breathing heavily, as he held the trigger just centimetres away from my face. I was so scared I couldn’t move, thinking that if I had even moved a muscle that trigger would probably have been pulled. The heat was unbearable, the room felt so stuffed that if an old man had been there he probably would have suffocated. Still holding the gun in his hand, with an evil threatening voice, the man said to me,

“No worries, you’ll be joining your ancestors in just a matter …of …sec-” As he said the last word, he had pulled the trigger and the final word he said was blown out by the sound of an explosion. I woke up. My face was full of sweat and my heart was beating as fast as the drums of a rock and roll band. It was just the dream again, this reccurring nightmare coming to haunt me.

Morning came as I drove on my way to work, I work as a crime investigator. In the past 2 weeks there have been 4 murders predictably by the same murderer. First murder, April 12th, Brooke Thatcher. April 15th Margaret Shields, April 21st Bobby Smith and April 23rd Katie Baker. All murders took place in the middle of the night at their house, all were killed the same way, they were shot twice in the neck. The latest murder, Katie Baker, happened to be a close friend of mine, she told me before died that she got an unknown message saying that shes ‘next’.

Jack, my partner, barged into my office.

"Miss Current, there has been a report of another murder of a young boy by the name of Sam Maurice. Two bullets found in his neck."

“Sam Maurice, Sam Maurice…hm” I said, as his name sounded vaguely familiar. “Sam Maurice! Hes in the same class as my son! Poor boy, we must find out who this murderer is and stop him!”

The day went by as I got into bed. I breathed heavily and calmly closed both my eyes. Right before me, I see his face. He reloads the trigger, turns around and tells me;

“My, my, my… these days have been just far too busy for me, first Thatcher, then Shields, then Smith and the list goes on… but don’t worry my dear, I’ve still got time for you…” He points his gun to my direction, pulls the trigger, the bullet exits the gun and I wake up. Its morning.
I get out of bed and check the mail. I get a message with no postage stamp or name, all it says is that it is addressed to me. I open it up and in letters cut out from magazines and newspapers the letter seems to read out:
“Your next… From, the man of your dreams”

A Familiar Face

He sat up from his bed. It was 2AM and his phone was ringing. He rubbed his eyes, got dressed quickly and threw on his trench coat with a groan. He arrived at the alley with police cars blocking the scene.

“Inspector, there was another one” Said the Lieutenant rushing towards him. The inspector took out a cigar and lit it, puffing casually.


“Should I fill you in? At around one there was a call from Janace Walters- She’s right over there, sir- announcing that she heard a shooting-”

“Yaddy ya ya, Markus. Just take me to the scene” the inspector puffed. They splashed their way through the rain puddles towards a figure lying on the ground, blood covering her white blouse and her hands clasped together, almost as if she was sleeping.

“Emily Adams, 29, worked at the diner just up the road. She was on her way home from her last shift.” Markus read off his notepad. “The thing is, inspector, is that this is the fifth shooting in the past two weeks. They were all with the same bullet. We can’t go on like this. The press wants answers. The captain doesn’t know what to do.”

“and we’ll give ’em answers, when we’ve got ’em” The inspector snapped.

He looked at her face. It was a beautiful, calm face. He wrinkled his eyebrows. He knew that face.

“What didja say her name was?” He growled.

“Emily Adams”

He didn’t know the name. But where had he seen the face before? It was a familiar face. He knew that face. He knew her, but from where? Where had he seen her?

After they had spent hours inspecting everything at the scene, they covered her and carried her away.

“We’ll talk about this tomorrow. Get some rest, inspector” They said.

But the inspector couldn’t go to bed the next night. He knew that face but he didn’t know where. At 2 in the morning the next night, there was a knock on the door.

Grudgingly, he lifted himself out of his bed and opened it.

In front of him stood three police men.

“Sir, you’re going to have to come with us”


“Sir, we have another problem. And take your gun.”

Confused, the inspector took his gun and they drove him to the department. They took his gun but returned moments later.

“What’s all this about?” He asked.

“Sir, after we found your DNA on Emily Adam we found that your unregistered gun traces to the bullets used to kill the five people we have been investigating. You have to come with us.”

The inspector stared at them. Kill five people? Impossible. He couldn’t have. He didn’t. He would never. His hands shaking, he allowed them to guide the way

Extract 3- End in Tears by Ruth Rendell

This extract caught my attention the most. Unlike the other extracts, this one had dialogue and descriptions making it more interesting. In this extract, we get the descriptions of what is happening, but we do not know why or where it is happening and we begin to wonder what comes next, and who the character is. Sometimes with stories, there are too many descriptions that make the story boring (for example in extract 4) and with continuous descriptions, it begins to feel like it is going on and on and on. With the simple language used in this extract and the short sentences, we can feel tension being created especially in the line "the third minute passed. the fourth." instead of having "The third minute passed and then the fourth minute passed." I also liked how we discovered some of the characteristics of the character without them being obvious. The line "He hated anticlimaxes. The silver honda could have taken another route." shows the reader that the character is quite impatient. This extract was simple, but had very detailed components that made the story tense.


Greg sat up straight in his bed. Eyes wide open, and drenched in sweat, he could still feel the knife in his stomach.

He moved his trembling hand towards the spot where he'd been stabbed. Nothing. Slowly he sank back into his bed. It was just another dream. This had been going on for almost a week now.

He checked the time, not surprised any more at what it said; 04.52. Not only did his dreams get more violent and detailed per night, he also wakes up 2 minutes later per night. Guessing that that was not the only pattern that seemed to repeat, he assumed that his dream would not continue and he could sleep for the remaining 2 hours.

That assumption was wrong. This night his dream continued...

At 7am, Greg was so exhausted that he did not hear his alarm clock go off, and he slept 2 more hours. As he realized what had happened, he reached to his phone to call his boss, that he would not come in today, he is sick. Next he dialled his sister's number, and told her that he would come over in a hour and he needed someone to talk with.

-It is the same dream every night and started last week, Friday.

-Tell me about the dream

-I try to escape, but my killer is faster. 2 nights ago was the first time I got stabbed. Every night, the dream lasts a bit longer and more happens. Tonight, I was laying on the cold floor, gasping for air. My attacker simply stood above me watching in silence. That's when it ended. But then I fell asleep again, and it continued. He took off his mask and I could see his face.

-Do you recognize him, know him from somewhere?

- No, I don't, but he seems so familiar! Sue, I know every detail of that dream, I even know the name of street; its Westmoore street. And for some reason I also know that I am in Galbally, you know, the town some miles south from here.

- Greg, I am worried about you, you look completely pale! Go sit in front of the TV I'll make you some tea and breakfast.

Greg didn't argue and went to the sofa and turned on the TV. He flipped through some channels and stopped at the local news channel as he couldn't believe what he sees.

The reporter in the screen said: 'And today’s breaking news: there has been a murder in Galbally. A young man has been stabbed at night in an empty street. So far there are no suspects but Policemen are still investigating around the area.'

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Misunderstanding

He was sitting in his apartment; lighting a cigarette while waiting. The phone suddenly rang.
‘Yes?’ he picked up the phone and answered.
‘Is everything going as planned?’
‘Yes, boss.’
‘You leave in 15 minutes. 27th Oak Street is the location. Remember; stick to the plan. I don’t want you screwing up this time.’
‘I won’t, sir, I promise.’
There were a few seconds of silence, and then his boss hung up. He collected his weapon and left the house. He was there within the next 10 minutes; waiting around the corner for Mr. John Jones to come home from work. Three minutes past by and he heard the sound of a car approaching the house. He hid himself. You could hear footsteps coming towards the door. He was still waiting for the right moment, for the moment where he would do as he was told and get the job done. The night was dark; darker than it usually would be. It was only a matter of seconds. Only a few short seconds it took him to do this. Nobody knows how he managed to do it so quickly. Suddenly the sound of a gunshot filled the empty space…
He woke up the next morning relieved that he had finished the job. He had done his duty. He turned on the TV to watch the news. The reporter was talking about a crime that had taken place the night before.
‘… It happened at this very house, in 27th Oak Street. The police suspect that it was a case of murder that happened here last night. John Jones came home last night to find Ralf Jones, his brother dead. The police had already arrived before he got home …’ the reporter continued.
He sat in front of the TV with his mouth wide open. ‘This can’t be…’ he thought to himself. He jumped when his phone rang. It was his boss.
‘You see what you have done??? You have ruined EVERYTHING. You can’t even follow simple instructions, can you?’ His boss shouted with an angry voice.
‘But sir, I thought it was the right person…. I SWEAR IT!!!’ He replied while shaking.
‘YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT. You’re ABSOLUTELY USELESS!!!’ His boss shouted in an even louder tone.
‘PLEASE, SIR…. Let me explain!!!’ He said in fear.
‘THAT’S ENOUGH! I have just about had it! I don’t want you working for me anymore. YOU’RE FIRED!’ His boss shouted.
His boss then hung up on him...

A Lunch To Die For

Sergeant Rory Maccallum was annoyed. Annoyed at these stupid little things which had stopped him getting the promotion he rightly deserved for years. Annoyed at how his wife was always eyeing his colleagues , especially the ones in uniform. Annoyed at his Detective inspector, who never gave him any decent cases, none of the ones which would maybe get him his promotion, up to Detective Sergeant.
Another beer or ten, and he might forget. So he got up, and went from his happy place, in a land where DI Donald aka DI Duck didn’t exist, along with his wife, and many other deeply annoying things such as taxes, his colleagues in uniform and paperwork didn’t exist, to his almost spartan living room, and started moving, towards his kitchen, where he kept the beer in a separate fridge, another 2 degrees colder than their proper one. Others may say he didn’t know much about his job, but no one could ever have said he didn’t know his beer.
One beer later, he was moving back to his favourite armchair when he dropped his unopened can. Bending to pick it up, he noticed his wife approaching, quickly, holding his uncooked and still frozen dinner. He even saw her arm descending, and even felt the first blow hit his head, but no more.

Finished, she dropped the lamb coil, now slick with her husband’s blood. No doubt people would find out, her worry wasn’t how to hide it, but how to pass the blame.
Maybe plead insanity? No, then it’d be off to the loony bin with her.
Dump his body in a ditch somewhere? Tempting, but no. The fat bastard must have weighed a tonne.
Maybe make it seem like a burglary gone wrong? Sure, she could do that. Only one problem. How to get rid of the murder weapon?


“Okay, people! Mrs Maccallum here has made us a wee bit o’ lunch, so ye can qui' scrapin' the puir bastard’s brains aff the walls,” started Inspector Whyte, only stopping after Vincent tapped him on the shoulder, and nodded in the direction of the late Sergeant’s wife. “Erm, wha' A meant is, erm...”
“What inspector Whyte meant is lets take a break, seeing as Doreen here has made us some lunch.” Vincent sprang in, and turned to Doreen. “so… What have you made, and where is it?”
“There’s a wee bit of lamb fer everyone, an’ some veggies tae,” she replied in broad Glaswegian, smiling in an odd way, “an’ I’ll be happy fer everone o’ yous tae eat their fair share.”
The officers filed past, chorusing their thanks with a few “ta”s and “thank ye”s.
None of them heard her muttering. None of them would have made sense of it any way.
“Almost cannibalistic, this is. Aye, almost cannibals. An’ none o’ them’ll e’er find it.”

Extract 3, End in Tears by Ruth Rendell

I found that this piece was the best one out of all the other pieces of crime fiction that I read. It was very well written. What I liked a lot about this piece was that the style of writing was simple, yet was written in a way which was appealing to the reader. When I started reading this piece, I didn’t get tired of the story line and found myself wanting to continue reading in order to find out how it ends.  For instance, at some part of the story which was towards the end, the writer was writing about what was happening in every minute that passed by before the murder was going to take place; and that made the reader anxious to find out what would happen at the final minute in which the person was going to be killed. The story was short, but also very effective.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Crime Fiction

I think we can probably leave our iambs behind for a little while now. I think some of you simply need to practise the technique independently; you are all still finding it difficult, but really it will be down to how much energy and time you are willing and able to put into it independently now; further tasks will not necessarily help at this stage, and might just start to irritate you!

So now we shall move on to some more prose fiction. For the following tasks, we shall follow the same format: a) a commentary on an excerpt of prose; and b) your own piece of original writing.

This week, we shall focus on writing some CRIME fiction.

You will all, no doubt, be familiar with 'crime' as a TV or movie genre: I, for one, am totally gripped by each year's new series of the UK series Waking the Dead, Silent Witness or Wire in the Blood. But I don't know how many of you have read much crime fiction.

As with many popular genres, the shelves of your bookshop are full of two different types of crime fiction: popular, generic, shallow, derivative stuff aimed predominantly at a mass market and pretty devoid of anything especially 'creative, inventive and original'; and, also, more 'literary' fare, writing that grabs hold of and wrestles with the conventions of the genre, and reworks them in a highly original and imaginative fashion. Unsurprisingly, it is the latter for which I would like you to aim.

Part One

You have all been emailed 5 extracts from different pieces of contemporary crime fiction. I would like you to choose which of them you feel is the most effective, and explain precisely why you have made that choice. Using examples to back up your points, try to get to the bottom of what, in your opinion, makes for effective crime fiction, identifying techniques which you might, yourself, try to explore in your own writing for Part Two.

Part Two

Now it is your turn: write your own excerpt of crime fiction, in which you demonstrate your own ability to interpret this popular genre in an original and compelling way. It is up to you whether your piece represents the opening of a longer novel, the end of an individual chapter, or just an 'abstract' - provided that it still works in isolation (i.e. on its own). As well as focusing on the genre-specific features of language and style, think also about the structure of your piece: few genres are more reliant on a build up to a strong (and sometimes surprising) climax. Aim for between 300-450 words (and try not to go too much below or above this).

Good luck!

This task is due by midnight on Saturday 9th March 2011.

As always, here is my attempt:
His First Case

You wake, surprised by the dark. You can smell him, although you do not realise that yet. You sit up, briefly, and hear nothing. Dreams, punctured, claw at you, vying to drag you under. You sag and fall into the mattress he bought. You can hear him, although you do not realise that yet either. Sleep comes.

You wake again; the dark is predictable now. You cannot smell him or hear him, but you think you can. Your dream has spilt over, torpid but bulging. He is in your dream; quickly, reluctantly, you rejoin him.

You do not wake. Still, listless, the darkness drinks you. He can smell you now; he can hear you too, the crackle of your congested breath half stifled by your pillow. He watches, waiting, your stale perfume tickling his senses like a red rag. The blade is the only beam, conducting light from nowhere. He shines it on your face. Your mouth. Your neck.

The cut is languorous. The metal strokes your throat, teasing the blood in one, perpetual exhalation. The white sheets purple in the bladelight. Your scent changes; he is relieved.

Freshly shaven, a pale elastoplast barely covering one clumsy nick, I cannot see when I first cross the threshold: they have left the curtains closed, left everything. I carry a small torch. I shine it on your face. Your mouth. Your neck.

I can smell him. I think I can hear him, but I can't. The blue light speaks, silently, outside the window. I buckle, bend over, vomit - ruddy specks raining through my torchlight.

Your eyes are staring at me. I cannot escape your gaze. I take out my notebook and begin

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Where is the love?

This strange feeling, it takes you by surprise,

Its unknown, is it cloudy or clear?

Will we know what it is when it starts to rise?

Is love what you see or what you hear?

Is it soul mates designed from first sight?

Or are we in love several times?

We search for it and sometimes we have to fight,

And when it’s lost? Where do we find the signs?

Is love a puzzle, is love a maze?

When all is done and gone, love will remain,

Will we feel it around through every phase?

It’s there through the grief, despair and pain,

What do we look for when it’s not known?

Do we have to search for it alone?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I’m bound by a feeling so deep and wide,
So huge, so delicate, so strong, so loud,
That I cannot, and will, not push aside,
Of which I’m infinitely proud,
A feeling without which, I’m lost, I’m spent,
Bound to one so short, bound to one so good,
She is one who as if by Venus sent,
She fuels the fire of passion like dry wood.
She grab’d control of mine mortal man’s heart,
With her, for all the gold of this large world,
I would not voluntarily part.
Even were my mind to become unfurl’d,
I’d still recognise and wildly love,
Someone I will never bore or tire of.

I will love him forever...

What a wonderful feeling love can be…
As wonderful as a beautiful rose…
A person by my side who is so dear to me
And day by day…our love grows and grows
Every day I see his wonderful face
 And remember how lucky I am to have him
 Then I feel that my heart begins to race
And I know it must be love I feel for him
I have never felt this way before
Ever since I met him the hole in my heart was untied
There is no one else I would ask for
Because he is the only one I want by my side
The future is very hard to tell; however
But all I know is that I will love him forever…

Monday, 14 March 2011


The sun shines quite strongly in the summer,

The birds sing while spreading their mighty wings,

The scent of divine flowers and lovers,

The feeling between two people can bring.

An unexplainable definition,

In which words cannot seem to interpret,

Adrenaline, working on a mission

With the heart and mind hoping to be worth it.

People fall in love, so keep up ahead,

The goal of life, to have a longtime friend.

Love is in the air, as always is said,

Cliché it may seem but true in the end.

The comfort when you look into their eyes,

The feeling no one can ever despise.

Love comes around again

Wonderful times, the feeling must not end,

And yet it does, regret, pain and sorrow,

Some hope remains that he will be my friend.

Love stays, no matter what strength you borrow.

Life goes on, still memory does remain.

A wish to repeat what has once ocurred

A wish that is so deep you go insane.

A wish not just insane but quite absurd.

Some day new love is found and suddenly,

The joy, delight and pride can start once more.

A new life begun, without a hint of misery,

And never again will that heart be sore.

Love's uncontrollable, tough and endless,

Enjoy it and simply say out loud: YES!


How can love be interpreted simply?

Love is a fickle beast, arduous to tame

Love cannot be measured, seldom clearly

Love is mysterious, having no name

Love comes in various different forms

None of them clear enough to comprehend

Love is like a fire, blazing, bright and warm,

Love is like iron, and can never bend

Love is both a blessing and a burden

It leaves us yearning and begging for more

The heart is fragile, treated by surgeons

Love is a curious thing, opening doors

A man cannot be stopped, if struck by love

Love is love, from depths below to above

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A Sonnet

I have been very impressed by how you have wrestled and fought with iambic pentameter over the past couple of tasks. I think it is proving a little harder than some of you anticipated, but you are making real headway nonetheless. Iambic pentameter is the crucial building block, obviously - but so many of you have either cracked this now, or, if you haven't then you have ALMOST done so.

However, I am not convinced you are reading each other's attempts fully - and, even more importantly, each other's COMMENTS. It is from the moderators' comments and suggestions that you will learn the most - and they are making lots of extremely useful points every time. Have you tried out all their suggested ideas and strategies? Are you confident you are doing your best to learn from what they say? Please make the most of this valuable resource.

Best of all, however, some of you are managing to do so without sacrificing the power of your poetry itself. This is the real challenge: a synthesis of CONTENT (choice of language and what it is about) and FORM (rhyme, rhythm etc.). In fact, you can look at it mathematically:

powerful CONTENT + disciplined FORM = effective POETRY

Now for this week's task - and it's a DIFFICULT one. Your first, complete SONNET.

These are the rules of the English (or Shakespearean) SONNET:
  1. It must be written in IAMBIC PENTAMETER (i.e. x5 dee-DUMs)
  2. It will be 14 lines long, and consist of x3 quatrains (4 lines) and x1 final couplet (2 lines)
  3. It will have a strict rhyme scheme (abab cdcd efef gg) - please see me if you are not completely clear what this means.
The challenge is putting all these things TOGETHER!

And what should your sonnet be about? Well, I know I'm a couple of weeks late, but what better topic than to do as Shakespeare did, and write about LOVE?

So, good luck! And please make sure your attempts are online by midnight next Sunday 13th March.

Here's my attempt at a 'Valentine's Day' sonnet. See if you can find the one iambic error:

I'm ten years old when first I fall in love
And Jennifer is my beloved's name.
An angel who has tumbled from above,
She kindles in my heart a burning flame.
And when she asks to be my Valentine,
I can't believe what I am being told.
She offers me her heart; I give her mine,
Together with a chain of fakest gold.
But later, when she gives my love the sack,
Repudiating every vain embrace,
I make it clear I want the trinket back
And, tearful, Jenny throws it in my face.
Misunderstood and unrequited too,
My love found none deserving until you.