Such is because it helps in showing the world their rich levels of creativity.
The rules of writing I always tell students that there are no set rules for writing and they can write whatever they like. That said, there are two rules of writing that I encourage them to follow. Not the most original rules, perhaps, but if kids can master them their writing becomes much more powerful.
For example, "the man was angry" could become, "the man clenched his fists and hissed beneath his breath". When teaching "all adverbs must die", I concentrate on the importance of giving the power to the verb.
Once pupils realise the potential in this, they quickly kill adverbs and load the power of the action onto the verb. Pupils divide a page in their jotter and give each quarter the headings likes, dislikes, motivations and flaws.
What makes these complex and rich characters? What makes them get out of bed every morning? What stops them from achieving their ultimate goals in life?
How would they react in various situations? Once pupils have thought about these characters, I ask them to complete the page in their jotter with as many pieces of detail as they can for their own character.
What have they done or what will they have to do?
This exercise is always busy, exciting and produces promising and complex pieces of writing. Many pupls seem to think writers have great lives, are fabulously wealthy and sit around all day making up stories, all of which go on to be published without much bother at all. YouTube is full of interviews with writers, recordings of book festival appearances and spoken-word performances.
Being a Scottish teacher working in Scotland, I use of a suite of videos filmed and hosted by Education Scotlandwhich features a number of writers discussing their inspirations and motivations, how to create characters, how to write in genre and how to redraft. The videos are all around five minutes long which makes them excellent starter activities; you can find them here.
Narrative distance This can be modelled in class by the teacher projecting their work onto the whiteboard. But with a little coaching and training, maybe we can hone their skills and abilities that much more. How close will we get? A mid-distance narrative would give us key insights into pertinent thoughts the character has, but not bother us with every detail; we would see the character going into a coffee shop and have to surmise their mood and personality by observing how they react and interact.
And for a long-distance narrative, we only see the character from a distance — in the midst of other people, operating in a vast and complex society. We would come to understand them from the way they move through the world and the opinions that other characters have of them.
There is a lot in here, and mastering these narrative distances would take considerable effort and time. But if pupils could get to grips with them and become comfortable in zooming in and out on a story, then they will have developed some intricate and powerful writing abilities. Story prompts The oldest trick in the book, perhaps, but still a good one.
Writing Prompts is an excellent website full of creative writing resources to use in class. I get pupils to choose one at random, and as they write, I write.
Alan Gillespie teaches English at an independent school in Glasgow. He writes stories and tweets at afjgillespie This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional.
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