Writing about your hometown.
As part of our upcoming Booked! Project in Cumbernauld we’re inviting pupils, community groups and members of the public to use the place that they live as the inspiration for creative writing. You can read more about our Cumbernauld Project on our Booked! blog, but the writing prompts can also be transferred to any town, city or village!
Writer and People’s Historian, Daniel Gray, who will be working with members of Cumbernauld Action Care for the Elderly (CACE) as part of the project, explains
“People and place. That is at the core of what I write and why I write. People and place now, people and place then; fables in pubs that make me chuckle, and social history that makes me gasp in awe. The very greatest thing about living in Scotland (apologies, obscenely beautiful landscape and tattie scones), is that here, all of that thrives.”
We asked Daniel how he would go about using place as an inspiration for writing:
When I have an idea for a new book, but don’t know where to start, I distill my idea into a 500-word pitch. Just take the name, then add a colon and the words ‘The Movie’. So here I’d have the working title:
My Life in Cumbernauld: The Movie
Then write a 500-word pitch for your movie, pretending you’re going to send it to producers, under the following headings:
Time and Place
Choose a year, or an era. Perhaps a time when living here was the very sweetest. It was almost golden, and when you think of it, your memories are coloured like a movie.
What were the surroundings, the buildings, shops, parks, paths, trees, traffic, air like? Close your eyes, take yourself there again, describe them.
How did being here, in Cumbernauld, make it so good? Did the way people lived here help, or could it have happened anywhere? Perhaps these halcyon days were early on, filled with the excitement of leaving choked city life for Cumbernauld.
Place is, of course, vital. But was that golden time possible without those around you? Talk about them, the names, the nicknames, the sweethearts and the mishaps.
And, where there’s people, there’s laughter. This film needs those one-liners and those stories.
What about the visitors to your life in Cumbernauld – what did your family and friends still living in Glasgow and elsewhere make of it all? Did they say you ‘talked different’ now?!
We probably need a plot. It could focus on those people and places above, and they should certainly feature. But what is this overall story? From the outside, it seems like one of hope and optimism, in the early days, anyhow; people moving to a new life, people moving to the future, or even utopia. That’s a story in itself, but what happened when they, you, got there? What about working, and laughing and falling in love? What part did Cumbernauld play in that?
And then what? Happily ever after for person and place? And what of the future, in this place that was once just that? Find your inner sci-fi and imagine what you’d change. Let us dream again…
You can read more about our Cumbernauld Project on our Booked! blog, but these writing prompts can be used for any town, city or village!