As days became shorter in years gone by, groups gathered around the fire to share stories. Such sharing might be out of reach this year, but our most recent workshop with the young writers provided ample opportunity to celebrate all the good that comes with cooler weather.

We began by creating lists of our favourite things about winter days, and our favourite things about winter nights. The writers then used the images from their lists to inspire winter themed haiku.

Following this, we moved on to the age-old theme of night time disturbances, creating our own lists of things that are harmless by day, but take on a frightening feel at night. Clothes on chairs turn into ghosts, or noises outside take on a sinister feel.

The writers produced 100-word stories that had a spooky edge, but managed to capture the thrill of the eerie as well. There was some contention over whether 100 words would be sufficient, but the writers rose to the challenge, as always.

The main exercise of the session took the forthcoming Winter Solstice as inspiration. How would the characters we created respond to having a short period of time in which to achieve their objectives?

There were stories of misplaced nuclear weapon codes picked up by young children, library books yet to be returned and other narratives that played to the strengths of having just a short period of time to achieve the objectives.

We had planned one more exercise which could be gifted to friends or family members, again based around haiku, but the sharing and discussion that emerged from the other exercises meant we didn’t quite get around to that. However, the writers still have access to the exercise if they would like to do it.