Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Creative Writing - again!

This week's Creative Writing class was somewhere in the middle of finishing things off. I had a lesson plan all worked out, which involved reading a good short story and discussing why it was good, or if they thought so. We have already had a look at the Hero's Journey through film trailers and KISS - which was what a short story should be, because some of them are overwhelming themselves with stories that could end up as novels, and there just isn't time for that, especially because the stories need editing - and the end of this term is the end of the course for most of them. And being Year 10, they all have work experience to attend the last two weeks.

Last week's lesson was chaotic; we couldn't book the library and when we returned to the room we have been using for a classroom - not having our own, as the room we were allocated is, in fact, a staffroom - we found that another class was occupying it and using one set of laptops. The other set was being used by a full-sized class. Fortunately, I was able to coax six laptops from the other teacher, whose class was smallish like mine.

That's the trouble with having a small class: you don't feel you should have the cheek to book a computer room and if the laptop class sets and the library are unavailable, what can you do with a writing class? I need some emergency activities. If I hadn't had access to the computers I probably would have gone straight into the Hero's Journey class story - but I really wanted them to get on with their own stories.

Last week, Inaam was having trouble with writer's block. I suggested that she write the end and fill in the rest. It worked; the story is complete - but she needed to type it, because the dear old-fashioned girl starts everything in longhand.

James had told me he was finished with his first story and had begun another, but admitted this week that the first one wasn't quite finished. He had writer's block too and unlike Inaam, he froze near the end!

Ricky, who joined us late, had barely started his tale of alien invasion, having only gone as far as the Australian heroes being taken from an Arctic base and walking towards the alien HQ.

Two students were absent and one had other commitments, though she joined us near the end (and, o joy, emailed me her complete, edited story! It is on its way to the school anthology.

Anyway,  they all grabbed a laptop and started writing before I could do more, so I left it till the last half hour, when I read with them two short pieces of slush I had kept for them since early this year, and invited them to work out which we had allowed to go to the next round and which we had rejected. They got it right, and for the right reasons. One was a story outline, with very little actually going on and way too complex for what it was. The other had only two characters, a problem to solve and was complete in itself. It worked. They remembered my talk about KISS!

I've started reading a story with them each week - next week we'll do the one I originally had planned for this week. It's a nice, humorous story from the Trust Me! anthology. I'd like, if possible to compose a Hero's Journey story outline with them, to help give ideas to those who are ready for their next story.

Wish me luck!