Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A place for everything and everything in its place

This week I've been working with groups of students on story writing. With younger students in Year 1 (5-6 year olds), using the seaside as a stimulus, children were thinking of descibing words and sounds, alliteration - swishy, swashy,drip, drip, etc - to help them imagine being in that seaside environment. They relied heavily on illustrations and physical prompts such as seashells, starfish, sand along with photographs to help them brainstorm WOW! words to describe their setting. Some children coped very well with this and were able to write down words to describe what they could see, smell, feel and hear. Others were able to describe the images or objects they saw but then were unable to translate this in to a story setting. At the age of seven, some working in a second or third language in class, certain children were stumped. But as a group, we were able to create a piece of group writing. With a whiteboard and pen, I scribed the WOW! words before asking the children to create a seaside setting for their story. They told me what they saw, the colours, shapes and textures, before we steadily weaved a walk along a beach.

Crunchy, scrunchy sand.
Harry tiptoed along the sand.
His feet were wet and scratchy sand stuck in his toes.Swish swish went the waves.
The blue wet sea out there.
A boat sailed across the horizon.
Harry was on holiday.

A great first page for the children to then develop in to a story for their character!

With Year 3 students, the story setting has been based around the garden after reading Tom's Midnight Garden. Working with this group, who on the whole have access to a back garden or at least access to local parks, the students have been able to refer to their first hand experiences in addition to using photographs and books as an aide memoire and/or stimulus.

Students began by drawing the garden within which the story would take place and from there then began to record WOW! words which would descibe their garden, movement around the garden and the events that were to take place.

polished glass greenhouse
faded wood summerhouse
battered trees
pink cherry blossom  -  scent of strawberry sweets
grey stone sundial - shadows cast tell the time
deep, dark, cold, pond -glimmer of occasional goldfish

tiptoe silently across the wet, icy blades of grass
flap flap of the blackbird's wing
chirrup chirrup a thrush sings its cheerful song
a golden key, decorated and shiny
a dirty, curled up map telling a treasure hidden deep in the garden
a hidden door behind the ivy climbing up the wall

We will be looking at story plans next, which will bring some of these fabulous ideas to life!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Time flies by when you're the driver of the train . . .

Well, almost six weeks have passed since I last published an entry on this blog. That is not to say I haven't written numerous blogs during that period recalling a number of writing sessions and publicity sessions, I just did not post them.

I'm not entirely sure why, but this much is true. I'm right in the middle of a complete self confidence failure right now. I don't intend to use this blog to relay my woes but enough is to say that life gets in the way sometimes - I'm sure I'm not alone when I indicate the frustrations and distress faced when all of a sudden, the life you know changes so dramatically, that you focus down on getting through each day rather than allowing yourself the luxury of creativity.

Unfortunately, whilst in survival mode, my creativity dried right up and I was left with something resembling cheap muesli (the stuff we've all tried on a budget and discovered that muesli without nuts, raisins and dried fruit is as tasty as cat litter)

However, during this time, I have written in my notebooks at any given opportunity, considering a prequel for Driftwood and Amethyst where the backstory of Holly Dawson, the kindly old guesthouse owner with a penchant for natural magic, is explored. As I wrote, the story seemed to be taking two completely separate directions and I soon discovered I was also intertwining the prequel with another story.

As I raise my head nervously above the parapet of my little existence, I now am beginning to see my way forward and out of the quagmire of self doubt and insecurities, sadly brought on by the crumbling of significant aspects of my old life.

But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and while I apologise for the heavy reliance on simile and metaphor, these well worn sayings have allowed me to outline my present state. My notebooks are full of hopeless doodles and scribbles from many of these equally hopeless moments and are now being carefully dissected from the prequel and are steadily being stitched together to create a sequel for the two main characters, Danny and Sophie; a new adventure where their reality becomes enchanted and fantastically unpredicatable once again.

A little like my life, as it happens, so there you go. Maybe in some ways life does imitate art after all.