Here’s my work from week 4 of FutureLearn’s Start Writing Fiction course…

The main focus of week 4 was character and plot. I ended up with half of a short story which I may or may not finish at some point. Here’s what exists so far:

Hiding in time

“Ready or not, here I come!”

John scuttled beneath the porch, slipping down onto his belly and commando crawling his way forwards until he was completely concealed. He rolled over and lay still, squinting to see between the dark, wooden slats of the decking above. Sunlight bloomed around their edges.

Breathing as slowly as possible he strained his ears for a sign, listening out for the patter of feet or creak of boards.

“I’m going to find you,” Chloe called from elsewhere in the garden, clearly heading in the wrong direction. John grinned, proud of his hiding place.


Gunther let out an involuntary gasp as the bullet popped the back of the child’s skull, a cloud of blood dispersing into the air. A hairy lump of bone skittered into the snow, trailing a red streamer.

Feeling an insistent tugging on his elbow, he sat back down, facing away from the window and into the wet, dark hole of a room that was their current home. One of the walls wasn’t there anymore; it was just a pile of rubble. They’d hoped that would dissuade the patrols from checking the building, even if it did mean the place was as cold as being outside. At least it sheltered them from the wind.

“They shot the little kid.”

“Of course they did,” Helena replied, her voice weighed down with pragmatism. “I told you not to look. They might have seen you.”

“Fucking savages,” he growled, hoping it would make him feel better.

“Fucking Nazis.”


Fire brands waved in the distance, beyond the treeline. Thomas squatted, swamp water up to his neck, mud from the river bed oozing into his tattered shoes. Mosquitos buzzed and flicked around his ears but he didn’t move, frozen between the reeds. There was no wind. The air was still.

“Catch him,” came the chant, “catch him, catch him!” The mob drew nearer.

Thomas wanted to close his eyes, to stop any firelight from reflecting and giving away his hiding place, but he couldn’t turn away as they darted through the trees, hunting for their prey, robes glowing angel white.

The cries of the mob intensified. “If he hollers, let him go!” they screamed, their hatred joining the embers and smoke to fill the air until there was nothing left to breathe.


Dry, cracked earth beneath her, red dust on her knees and under her fingernails.



Spun out of Hiding in time came a small character bio, focusing on the character in the Nazi Germany section:

Gunther was born in Berlin in 1915. He was never interested in politics until Adolf Hitler came to power. Initially excited by the country’s economic recovery, he began to become increasingly uneasy about the changing tone in the country. As the Nazi’s plans began to become clear Gunther found himself increasingly distanced from his young, Hitler Youth-loving friends.

As Jews were rounded up Gunther found himself having more in common with them than with the rest of his country. When war broke out he joined a resistance movement fighting against the Third Reich from within, despite having no outside support. Still a teenager, he knew what kind of world he wanted to live in, and this was not it.

He’d once met a girl called Sarah on a school exchange programme with Britain. As he hid in the ruins of bombed Berlin he wondered whether he would see her again.

That was about it for week 4, which felt like a bit of a breather after week 3’s output. Looking forward to week 5!


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