Halloween and Valentine’s combo

Writing for a particular occasion is always fun and provides a useful cultural touchpoint to get your imagination flowing. In this post, I will suggest a number of activities which groups can do near to Halloween and Valentine’s day.

First we will look at the genre of horror which is apt for Halloween-inspired writing.

Thinking Exercises:

  1. Watch the IT movie from 1 min 28 sec at this link, and consider what makes Georgie’s death scene so scary.

2. Think about how breathing fluctuates according to emotional state. How can you use punctuation to experiment with breaths?

  • commas usually indicate a quick breath
  • ellipses usually indicate a full breath
  • paragraph breaks usually indicate deeper breaths
  • long sentences prevent people from breathing and therefore contribute to the impression of anxiety when people have to take a gasping breath at the end

3. Horror is a diverse genre. What are the different sub-genres within this?

Photo by Harrison Haines from Pexels

Writing Exercises:

  1. Describe a nightmare you have had in fifty words.

2. Transform each of the following idyllic scenes into ones of horror in fifty words:

  • afternoon tea cafe
  • children’s playground
  • harbour
  • countryside train

3. Write a ghost story.

Now let’s look at love poems which are closely linked with Valentine’s day celebrations.

Thinking Exercises:

  1. Discuss whether you would like to receive/ send a love poem.
  2. Discuss how you would try to make your love poetry original.
  3. Read the following love poems and analyse them.
  • Valentine – Carol Ann Duffy – click here for link
    • Examine the extended metaphor in this poem.
    • Think about how Duffy avoids common clichés.
  • Sonnet 116 – Shakespeare – click here for link
    • This poem is often read at weddings. Why do you think the sonnet form works so well as an expression of love?
    • What do you think of Shakespeare’s confident final couplet?
  • I Loved You First – Christina Rossetti – click here for link
    • What do you think about competition between lovers? Is it possible to love someone more than they love you?
    • What is most effective about this poem?
  • Love is a Parallax – Sylvia Plath – click here for link
    • Sylvia Plath had a difficult relationship with her husband, Ted Hughes. What does it mean to complicate a love poem in order to find a more suitable way of expressing a tense and difficult relationship?
    • What is your favourite line from this poem?
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Writing Exercises:

  1. Make your own ‘Roses are red, violets are blue…’ joke.

2. Sonnets have often been used to express love. Have a go at writing one of your own.

3. Invent your own extended metaphor for love/ lovers.

Photo by Shamia Casiano from Pexels

I hope these thinking and writing exercises have provided you with enough ideas to set about producing your own horror fiction for Halloween and love poetry for Valentine’s day.

Amber Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief

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