Teachers really are expected to perform magic tricks every day.
Every day they are expected to teach young people how to create a believable imaginary world that readers can willingly fall into.
I ask you how many adults can write a fantastic, engaging narrative?
Good old teachers, however are expected to teach a bunch of wriggly, sometimes disinterested young people, the art of crafting a story, on a hot Friday afternoon.
Children have to think about the quality of their writing plus the structure of their writing which is a little like asking Ginger Rogers to dance backwards. She did it – of course – but it took lots of practise.
I’ve got a few short cuts though which are in our ebook Creative Writing– which hopefully help.
1. Drop the reader into the action
Please, please, please start a story in the middle of the action. No – there was once a princess…It was a dark, stormy night…
The first line of Charlotte’s Web is: “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”
A good exercise is to ask students to start with the following dialogue and see what happens to their story.
“Don’t go in there”.
Characters also have to move. They have to ACT. They can’t sit around and watch other people do things. A Dad has to fall off a boat. An owl has to come and visit. A pirate has to walk into a bar.
My father had an inn near the sea. It was a quiet place. One day, an old man came to our door. He was tall and strong, and his face was brown. His old blue coat was dirty and he had a big old box with him. He looked at the inn, then he looked at the sea.
My father came to the door.
From Treasure Island….
Something has to happen! If nothing happens – it’s just a description of daily life and that’s SO BORING. It’s bad enough living it – let alone reading about it.
Fiction is life compressed into the most interesting part.
Characters, therefore, have to act and come up with plans which then fail. It works. Every time.
In the opening sequence of Dunkirk – the lead character runs away from gunfire – makes a plan, leaps over a gate – which then fails – as the gunfire continues – he leaps over a shed – makes another plan – only to find himself in the middle of a different parade of bullets – another fail. The viewer is swept along in the action and we are left to wonder – will he survive?
Again we have some scaffolds and short cuts though which are in our ebook Creative Writing– which hopefully help.
Till next time – master wizards!