When teaching Pathetic Fallacy

February 3, 2018

I often think to myself – I don’t write enough! My blog has lain dormant for over a year now and notepads lie empty and un-scribbled in.

But I’ve realised, of course, that I write all the time! I write examples for students almost every day which we analyse or use as models for techniques.

So, I thought that I’d start to post some here – starting with this extract which I wrote during a lesson on Pathetic Fallacy. The task was that I gave them timed writing tasks with different weather examples in different orders. We were to see how much the weather changes and order affected the story we wrote. Here’s one I wrote where every picture was of a kind of vague drizzle. The time limit was 5 minutes.


Outside the window, the pitter patter of rain trundled on, endlessly. It wasn’t that powerful rain which knocks you back and soaks you through instantly, or that light rain which seems to caress your face like a mother to a child – but a pathetic weak rain which insipidly creeps up on you, gradually corroding the outer layers of skin, until there you are – stripped of all protective layers, wrinkled finger tips and shrivelled heart – ready to sit on a park bench and simply give up.

The clouds weren’t a violent purple grey of surging anger, no, they were a tepid light grey like the suit trousers of an insurance salesman or the skin of someone who is not quite dead… Yet.

And the air hung like a meat carcass in the butcher’s shop – dead – but not yet of any discernable use. Awaiting eventual consumption.

It was cold.

But not too cold.

He longed to be frozen – for his fingers to ache with frost-bite; for icicles to pop from his nose like stalactites – just so that he could say:

“Ooh, it’s a bit chilly out, Margaret”


“We’ll need to get a fresh pair of gloves for you if this continues.”

But, no.

It was not too cold and neither was it warm.

Life was a luke-warm cup of tea for Nigel, and he wanted out.


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