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Clues Grid – What's Going On?

This is a useful activity if you want to clarify your early thinking on a piece of fiction. Here we have 30 pieces of information that loosely suggest a narrative. The bottom row is blank for you to make up your own 'clues'. You can either cast your gaze over them all and notice how some of them will link up to suggest a more coherent plot, or cut them out, pop them in an envelope and draw a few out at random. Either way, your creative imagination will be working (often subconsciously) to make sense of otherwise disconnected ideas.

As a writing group activity, use dice rolls to select pieces of information at random – see my Link to Think activity elsewhere on this resource page for details of how to do this. Begin by choosing two pieces of information at random. What story do they suggest? Brainstorm ideas with your fellow writers. If you get 'stuck', do a dice roll to select a further piece of information and continue the process of brainstorm-dice roll until you have a workable plot.

The TV is on standby. There is two days' worth of mail in the hallway. An empty milk bottle stands on the kitchen worktop. The number of the house is 42. Ten years ago, the garden shed burned down. A cold cup of tea is on the side table in the lounge.
The Phillips family lives here. The children's school is two miles away. The box room upstairs is always kept locked. There is an oil stain on the drive. Three pink rose bushes and a red one grow in the back garden. The DVD machine records the same programme each week.
The son is twelve years old. Mrs Phillips collects stamps and old books. There are fresh footprints in the flower border. Mr Phillips had a plumbing business that went bankrupt. A telephone number has been scrawled on the wall by the phone. Flowers in the front room have died.
The lock on the garden shed has been forced. A bottle of milk in the kitchen has gone sour. There are five messages on the telephone answering machine. The bed in the main bedroom is unmade. There are a week's worth of newspapers by the bed. The spare house key is missing from the hook in the hallway.
A faded red stain can be seen on the stair carpet. Mr Phillips's old school friend called round two days ago. There is money in a tin on the mantel piece in the lounge. The family owns a very valuable pedigree cat. Neighbours say the family keeps itself to itself. A guide book to New Zealand lies on the coffee table in the front room.
Clue 1. Clue 2. Clue 3. Clue 4. Clue 5. Clue 6.

— Steve Bowkett

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Author: Kevin Machin Date: July 17, 2017 10:12 am
Categories: Resources Tags: exercises
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