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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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