Creation of "The Burnt Stump"

I submitted this piece as a second assessment for ENGL201, and for this piece I received a Credit Plus. This was a big confidence booster for the rest of the topic.

When I began this piece, my initial idea was to expand on a previous class workshop work titled “The Trees in the Storm”. I wanted to attempt a poem expanding on a ‘break up’ that was the focus in that story. In this time, the idea of grief and creating an unease ‘nightmarish’ feeling became something I wanted to incorporate; and emphasising story, narrative and focalisation would achieve that.

Firstly, I wrote an 80-line poem with different focalisation for every stage of grief. However, I wasn’t happy with the subject and poems flow, so I started again. However, in the poem I referenced injuries and wounds, and created a word pool where I created new words that related to injuries, as I had no clear ideas. With the injuries word pool I came up with “scarring, murder, violence, pain and past”. Feeling I could work with this, I decided to write a prose piece about a murderer.

I decided to use the countryside setting from a previous story I’d written on my gap year about a British murderer, and incorporate a male and female character from the previous poem draft. I also researched about murderers, and found an article that provide reasons why people kill, included a combination of personal and external factors.

I wrote my first draft in third person. References to colour, inaccurate memory, and religious imagery came out of this. However, I felt I wasn’t getting into the narrative voice or focalisation, so for my second draft I used third person when the protagonist is awake, first person in a dream state, and made the female character speak in second person, giving a sense of grief, unease and dark emotional complexity. I also changed the ending, making the protagonist a fantasist who believes he has killed someone, and made the protagonists actions connect with what the girl was saying. This enabled the story to flow, and brought a more uneasy feeling to the story.

Overall, I’m proud of this piece, even I felt with more editing of the focalisation it could’ve improved the overall narrative story voice. I hadn’t written many horror stories before, so deciding to challenge myself and write for this genre was difficult, but rewarding. I really enjoyed how this piece came together creatively, and the process and ideas that led to the final product was rewarding.

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© 2020 by Nicholas Wasiliev.  All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer: All articles showcased on this website are purely-based off the author's personal opinion. Additionally, any characters expressed in any creative stories are purely fictitious, and do not aim to draw parallels to any individuals, either alive or deceased.