Futurelearn: Start Writing Fiction: Exercise 3

Imagine two different venues for writing – one that seems most suited to you, and one that you would find bizarre or too difficult. Write a paragraph describing two writers at work, one in each of the venues.

Note: I probably misinterpreted this, and wrote a paragraph for each venue and person.

She stares out of the window absent mindedly and her notepad slips down her lap, drawing her attention sharply back to it. She catches it before it falls, crumpling a page slightly. She holds her pencil in her mouth while she straightens it, considers the small handwriting on the page briefly, and returns the writing implement to her hand to add more words. She notices nobody around her, has no idea she is being watched, and the rumbling of the tube train through tunnels and stations only disturbs her when the brakes are applied sharply and the driver grumbles about people leaning on the doors. While she writes the notepad is only inches from her face and the pencil tip moves furiously. Between scribbling she peers out at the sky for the most part, lost in thought, oblivious, and, if the upturned corners of her mouth are anything to go by, supremely satisfied.

He thinks of her, of the journey she is taking, as he stares at her photograph, framed and placed beside the monitor that his laptop is plugged into. The desk is otherwise clear of clutter, only the essentials surround him as he sits touch-typing. Each sentence is reworked, each idea has to be perfectly conveyed. He sits upright in the office chair he brought home from work when the space was upgraded, thankful for the arm rests that prevent his RSI from flaring up. The words on screen describe feelings of contentment and happiness but his face reflects nothing, muscles slack, only his eyes moving. He stops abruptly when his watch emits an alarm, takes a coffee break, and returns to the desk. The coffee is not allowed near it, and before he sits down he cleans a smudge from the screen and flicks imagined dust from the table. As the light fades, his face is illuminated by the screen and, lost in words, Edward doesn’t notice.

Future Learn: Start Writing Fiction: Exercise 1

The challenge:

Write a paragraph (50 to 100 words) containing one fact and three fictitious elements. You can write about yourself, about your interests, about history – about anything you like. Then try the reverse – write a paragraph containing three facts and one fictitious element.


My mother always said that enduring an unusual name would build character, which is why I’m known as Max even though I’m female. My brother fared even less well, being dubbed Bonzo, and under this influence my sister eventually came to name her own children Denver (a girl) and Hendrix (a boy).

I grew up on a council estate in the midlands where I was lucky enough to attend one of the best, most forward thinking primary schools around in the late 70s. It was just as well, because my senior school left a lot to be desired, what with being rebuilt around us and staffed by teachers who ranged from astounding to dire in their skills. Going to school on a building site is not an ideal situation, but if generations beyond my own were to see school buildings without holes in the floor, leaking walls and dangerous staircases, somebody had to endure it. I often left home in the morning and found somewhere better than school to be, much to my parents’ chagrin.