Saturday, 13 July 2013

Edgar Allan Poe

I'm working my way through a number of ghost stories so that when I begin the September term I have a few choice examples to use in my lessons. The pictured book of Edgar Allan Poe's works is full of stories with the most fabulous titles. Von Kempelen and his Discovery, Mesmeric Revelation, The Devil in the Belfry, The Premature Burial, The Masque of the Red Death, The Oblong Box, The Purloined Letter and The Black Cat being a few.

Yesterday I read The Fall of the House of Usher. The story was bursting with Gothic creepiness and I must say that I enjoyed the pomp and drama of it. It seems to me that Poe has gathered ornate and elaborate words and used them to construct fittingly fancy sentences. The sheer wordiness of the story made me think it would be an interesting task to write the story, sentence by sentence, in a modern and stark style to see if its essence could be retained. 

Poe uses every device to create mood. In The Fall of the House of Usher there is a story within the story, a poem, a smattering of Latin words and references to writers of merit with interesting names. At the heart of the story is a human fear that has troubled people since the beginning of time (read it and see)

Some of the words used are wonderful. I might try to slip them into my own writing, or a conversation. 

Could you do the same with the following?

Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light  (my favourite)

Try reading Poe and leave a comment about what you think of his work.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Deadly Sins and Heavenly Virtues

How many times have you read stories or watched films in which the seven deadly sins are at the heart of the plot? Lots I imagine, when you come to think of it, as sin leads to all kinds of conflicts and that's what creates the drama necessary for a story to be interesting. 

Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride, when extreme, might be considered as character flaws and flawed characters are possibly the most engaging to read about and create.

Are you aware of the seven heavenly virtues?


It is said that observation of the above protects us from temptation. (Temptation being the source of so many good stories from the Garden of Eden onward)

Could you write about them?

Maybe a poem or a performance piece - a series of monologues or one act plays.

Can you see how they too, when you interpret them, could be the source of conflict?