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Fantasy Writing: Workshop with Kirsty Hammond – 28th February 2024

Well, tonight might have been just another dark, wet and miserable February night for us Ayr Writers if we hadn’t ventured out to the Mercure hotel for Kirsty Hammond’s Fantasy Writing workshop. Personally, I opened my bedroom window and flew there, Fiona arrived on a Unicorn and Dawn was the designated driver as her cat was getting drunk in the bar downstairs. Yes, Kirsty encouraged us to use our imaginations and fib about how we got there, as a warm up exercise.

Kirsty assured us that rules did not apply and that the Fantasy Writing Police would not be in attendance. We were free to use our imaginations, and, guided by Kirsty, we did.

We learned that Fantasy writing and Science Fiction can overlap but that there is one definitive difference – science fiction stories could happen someday, fantasy, not so much. Shame, I quite fancied a shot on Fiona’s unicorn.

We looked at fantasy stereotypes; female witches, gothic haunted houses, flying dragons and magic wands (Linda helpfully pointed out that nowadays you can use a magic wand to do the hoovering, which sounded appealing), amongst other things. Then we got into groups and had some fun “flipping” these stereotypes.

We learned of techniques in writing for any genre:

  • Opening
  • World building
  • Plotting (What does your character want? Or need?)
  • Fun and games – This is the actual imagery in the story, or, as Kirsty put it, “the trailer” to a movie. (Yes, it seems Netflix are after Ayr Writer’s Fantasy stories).
  • Mid-point / crisis point
  • Climax

We had the usual moan about the price of a cup of tea (but paid it anyway) and munched some choccy biccies for motivation and did some writing. We shared some ideas, Maggie and Chris’s group bringing to life a gentle dragon called Shug, who struggled with identity issues and was unsure of his gender. Not only that, but he had a dragon friend called Rainbow who was the source of some conflict. Another group came up with an eco-friendly vegan dragon with low carbon emissions.

I learned a new phrase, “Romantasy” – i.e. a combination of romance and fantasy, such as the Vampire tales from a decade ago. (Yes, I am often late to the party…)

Kirsty recommended some books:

“Into the Woods” by John Yorke, on the art and craft of storytelling.

“Save the Cat” books by Blake Snyder on how to write novels and screenwriting.

We all had great fun fantasy writing and at the end of the evening, I flew back up the road, Fiona galloped away on her unicorn and one drunk cat emerged from the downstairs bar.


Tracy Harvey


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