Skip to main content

From scribe to Force master - story writing with purpose

How do you craft a story for an audience? How can you encourage children to begin to think of themselves as authors rather than children in a literacy lesson? Key questions for teaching creative writing in primary schools and this week I discussed these ideas with a group of Year 5 children as we wrote the openings to our Star Wars stories.

The children agreed that a quick pace was important to writing and adventure story. Short sentences, using powerful verbs, limited descriptions - all things that help absorb the reader in a whirlwind of action.

What was trickier was knowing how to 'craft' the story for a reader who hasn't seen the planning process. How do we reveal just enough about a character, a place, a quest etc to root the reader in the story but keep them interested by what is NOT said? I call these 'suggestives' - how you suggest something to a reader without telling them. The origin of reading for inference that is taught in KS2, it is essentially writing for inference.

For example: "The young pilot gripped the controls with all her strength." - we learn our character is a pilot, a female, possibly a child and perhaps in trouble.

This approach can only really be taught by providing children for the opportunity to write for a real audience: someone other than their teacher. Publishing a book, sharing online, developing into an audio recording or film - all strategies I use and all real reasons to write. A writer can only really develop their craft when writing for strangers. Only then can the transition from scribe - one who simply writes - to a Force wielding Jedi who conjures and manipulates a narrative really begin.  



Popular posts from this blog

Creative writing based on Hokusai's The Great Wave

The Great Wave - Creative writing workshop, Year 6

Week 1: Vocabulary development








Inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai's masterpiece The Great Wave, Year 6 are starting on a creative voyage to bring the iconic print to literary life! We spent some time poring over the features of painting: the spray, the wave, the boats and, well hidden, Mount Fuji.

After reading an account of Ellen MacArthur's sailing voyages, we began to generate some cutting edge vocabulary to give our writing some sparkle.

This was the process:
Children labelled the features of the picture, including parts of the wave (crest, barrel, swell, lip)We chose personified verbs for the different features. 'Grabbing', 'scratching' and 'grasping' for the finger-like lip of the wave; 'screaming', 'slapping' and 'whistling' for the wind.The group selected similes for each of the features. The wind became 'a bellowing dragon', the boats were 'a floating feather&…

Blood thirsty Macbeth posters

Macbeth
Creative writing workshop, KS2
Macbeth is a blood-drenched, gory and spooky tale. Too gruesome for little ones? Apparently not! The Year 4 and 5 children I have been working with this half term have become completely immersed in the Scottish play.  As well as getting the children to write short playscripts, developing the climactic showdown between Macbeth and Macduff (more on this at a later date), my groups have designed some concept posters for the play. The children chose a colour and symbol that represented some aspect of the play (bloody red, royal purple, a black cat for the witches, a chess piece for the king) and overlayed it with words that help tell the story. We used emulsion paint and big worn-out brushes (the ones at the back of the cupboard that nobody uses...) to achieve a battle-worn, scratchy effect. Gory blood splatters went down a treat too! Here are some fine examples!

ARTiculate newsletter: March 2018

Hello teachers!

Well this is embarrassing! 2018 is already three months old and this is my first newsletter. A combination of exciting creative work and house moving has stolen my time. But here is an update on everything ARTiculate and, as usual, resources and recommendations for you to use to add a creative spark to your literacy teaching!


Between the lines: a lesson in diversity from a bookshop in Cape Town
This month I am in South Africa’s most beautiful city: Cape Town. There are many issues in education here in South Africa, not least the massive disparity in opportunity and funding for children in many schools. After a visit to the fantastic bookshop The Book Lounge, I have been inspired by the interesting range of children’s literature on offer; crucially, it is literature representative of the diversity in the country.

A bit of a poke in the ribs for teachers like us in the UK: how much does the literature we use in our classrooms reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of th…