Thursday, 26 September 2013

Megaliths: Mystical or mundane?

This (not very good) photo is of a field in Carnac in Southern Brittany, France. It contains some of the hundreds of megaliths that exist in the area. They are scattered in many cases but also can be found in very organised groups. Although they are not like Stonehenge, there are some resemblances. 

Many theories exist about the possible origins of these stones. They could be:-

A pre - historic grid reference for people whose advanced mathematical and astrological knowledge was then lost for thousands of years.

The  remains of communities in which the ceremonies connected with birth, death, marriage, fertility, retribution and sacrifice were carried out publicly and relied on symbolism.

Connections with aliens or other-worldly beings.

Rocks thrust up through the ground as the earth's surface changed, oceans realigned and land masses separated.

I'm very pragmatic and although I haven't researched the area and don't have access to the research of others, I'm inclined to believe that these stones, however amazing, could have been forced through the earth's surface during times of climate change or movement.

For untold years they lay untouched in the fields of farmers. 
What must the farming families and agricultural workers of other times have made of them?
Is it possible that people once knew the origins of the stones but that knowledge was lost?
How did the farmers of old and their families feel about the stones?
Were they believed to be mystical, benevolent, religious?

Write about a person who lived by the stones in another century. Show how they feel about them and what locals believe about them. Consider the theories that exist about these stones now, but try to imagine one of your own.

Do you live near an ancient monument or structure?  

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Word counts count

How long is a short story? I'm asked this on a weekly basis. I don't like to be vague if I can help it so my answer is that some of the shortest short stories known as flash fiction can be 500-800 words long. Some stories have had as few as six words.

I think that a piece of fiction above 8000 words  might be considered as a pocket novel or novella. Writing competition organisers and  editors have word counts that must be adhered to so that work fits on a page or within a broadcasting slot.

I'd say that if you are writing for yourself a short story can be any length you like. If you are writing for inclusion or payment there are guidelines. Competitions always state a maximum word count and magazines have slots of varied and specified sizes - 800, 1000, 2000, 3000 +

And then of course you can be creative. You can link stories or group similar themes and perspectives together.

How many words are in the longest story you've ever written?
Do you prefer quick reads or something longer and more developed?