Reflective Commentary on The Making of The Short Story – The Secrets and Lies of Belle-Fort Manor

This reflective essay will describe the events and the experiences of composing the short story The Secrets and Lies of Belle-Fort Manor. There will also be a short analysis and evaluation of this process to see whether it is an effective method in imagining, creating and developing a riveting short story. On attending a creative writing workshop I was asked to choose a picture from a collection of black and white photographs laid out on a table. I immediately chose a figure who looked pensive and pre-occupied. The figure could either be used as a female or male as there were no distinguishing features. I avoided performing an internet search as I felt knowing the reality of the figure would cloud my imagination. I opted for the figure to be a female as she was wearing a fur coat and I knew this would be a significant part to the story. My original thought was that the lady would be an actress on the stage and that she would be killed mid-scene in a murder mystery. Whilst writing down some ideas and looking at the photo more intently my plan changed. I decided that the lady in the fur coat would be a prostitute (due to her sad and reluctant facial expression) and she would be murdered. I then opted to create a back story where a wealthy couple would be implicated in her murder due to them both having a secret about her and this would affect and threaten their social status’. I researched the Victorian era; specifically, in regards to names, modes of transport and societal events. The play An Inspector Calls helped me to formulate suspense and suspicion as well as containing comparable characters like an inspector and a prostitute.

The photo was the first time I had used a visual prompt to stimulate my imagination and I found it extremely successful. The story could have taken several different routes due to an influx of ideas. However, I found it difficult to filter and process them. Moving forward I need to carry a notebook with me everywhere as some ideas will have been displaced or forgotten. Consequently, not researching into the origin of the photo at the beginning was a strength to this process as my ideas would have been blurred. However, to achieve this story I have edited it many times and I was worried I was spoiling the story. However, after researching I found that “If you write your book four times, chances are very good that when you’re done it will be a finely-crafted work of art … or at least undoubtedly something much better than when you started” (Petit, 2002). Therefore, editing many times is only a positive way in which I can refine my short story. There are some area’s which need vast improvement; I am going to consider mind mapping and visual aids to filter and process my ideas in the future but overall, it’s a successfully process.


Freud, L. (1967) Girl in A Fur Coat [Photograph – Online] Available from: [Accessed: 21/12/2016].

Petit, Z. (2002) There Are No Rules: How to Edit Your Book In 4 Steps. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 21/12/2016].

Priestley, JB. (2006) An Inspector Calls. London: Hodder Murray.



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