Jumping off the page

The brief for this week’s homework from the writing group is to write about a grandparent, creating a fictional account of a factual event from their life.

Easier said than done, I thought. Two of my grandparents died before I was born and the only memory I have of my maternal grandmother is of a tiny woman with greying curly hair, sitting at the kitchen table, warming her hands round the teapot. So that leaves my paternal grandfather; long dead now, but I have plenty of memories from my childhood.

Of course, I could choose one of the other relatives; one of those I’ve heard about, laid wreathes on graves at Christmas for, but never met. I’m the custodian of the family photographs so I have lots of inspiration, but where to start?

Dorothy L Sayers famously said that she created Lord Peter Wimsey because she wanted to meet him. In How I Came to Invent the Character of Lord Peter Wimsey, she wrote:

Lord Peter’s large income… I deliberately gave him… After all it cost me nothing and at the time I was particularly hard up and it gave me pleasure to spend his fortune for him. When I was dissatisfied with my single unfurnished room I took a luxurious flat for him in Piccadilly. When my cheap rug got a hole in it, I ordered him an Aubusson carpet. When I had no money to pay my bus fare I presented him with a Daimler double-six, upholstered in a style of sober magnificence, and when I felt dull I let him drive it. I can heartily recommend this inexpensive way of furnishing to all who are discontented with their incomes. It relieves the mind and does no harm to anybody.

The Wikipedia biographical entry for Wimsey is extraordinary for a fictional character, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Peter_Wimsey and this is testament to Sayers and her imaginative and descriptive powers. Her characterisation is so rounded, so full of personal history and period detail that Wimsey jumps off the page.

I hope I can do similar justice to my grandparent.


2 thoughts on “Jumping off the page

  1. I have actually fictionalized a true story about my grandfather in one of my WIPs. Although I never knew him (I was 14 months old when he passed), I only heard the story from my mother on Easter Sunday, 2009. It was the catalyst that started me writing two days later.

    Don’t be surprised if the exercise leads you to new possibilities. 🙂

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