During the school holidays we offer an hour of free creative writing before the normal tuition. Here is a writing game developed to stir up the creative juices.
This requires some preparation as the tutor scans through some appropriate children’s book (boys’ own adventure books are very good) for phrases, words or people to be used for:
- Opening sentence;
- Characters (2);
- Adjective (usually a colour) to slip in,
- Direct speech number one
- Direct speech number two
- Tone – set with an adverbial phrase
The development of the story is determined by a roll of the die. You will need six variations of each of the above categories. The writings of our maths tutor (Peter) will be inserted into the following so you may see how the game progresses. Peter’s final story is on the Post’s page and is titled – “Caught!”
The exercise takes about one hour regardless whether the students are working with paragraphs or are only at the stage of developing sentences.
Students are writing sentences or paragraphs, depending upon the skill and age of the student. Younger students write every second line to encourage neatness and to help with reading and correction.
First Step – Roll of the die for opening sentence or paragraph
This gives the student their opening sentence or sometimes the setting of the story. They write this on their page. –
Peter’s – “Neither _________nor ____________were ever able to explain how they got themselves locked in the veterinary Surgery overnight.”
Second Step – Roll the die for characters
Each student will require two characters so the die is rolled twice. Peter’s characters were:
- Uncle Tom
There is nothing wrong with rolling for characters first. There are no hard set rules for this exercise.
Third Step – Roll the die for setting
If the first roll for the opening sentence has not set the student up for the story’s setting then a roll is required for the setting.
Fourth Step – Who
Have the student describe the characters of the story.
Peter’s – “Uncle Tom was a confusing old man who wore round spectacles on a round face on top of a round body. A lot of him moved when he laughed at his own jokes. Georgina had known him all her life and at five years old that was a long time. Her short fuzzy red hair and chubby cheeks made them look like a pair of clowns when they walked down the street.”
Fifth Step – Roll the die for tone and write where and when
It is time to write your characters into the story and perhaps set the tone. This phrase is to be used for the opening sentence of a paragraph to be written by the older students. In this example the where and when had been set by the opening sentence so the tutor took the opportunity to develop the story and tone further.
Roll the die for tone – In total terror
Peter’s – “In total terror she now clung to her uncle’s large leg while all around dogs howled, cats hissed and parrots screeched. The room was totally black and smelled of anti-septic. The noise was deafening and would surely wake the dead thought Georgina. Now she had something else to worry about. She squeezed tighter on her uncle’s leg.”
Sixth Step – Read to review
Have the student read their work aloud. This is to identifying mistakes, inconsistencies or repetition. Assist the student with changes to words or phrases if required; e.g. the use of pronouns to replace the repetitious use of names.
Seventh Step – Roll for colour (or other adjective)
The student rolls the die to choose a colour (or other adjective) which is then inserted somewhere in the paragraphs or sentences written. Peter’s colour was “pink” and was inserted in the second paragraph:
“Uncle Tom was a confusing old man who wore round spectacles on a round face on top of a round body. A lot of him moved when he laughed at his own jokes. Georgina had known him all her life and at five years old that was a long time. Her short fuzzy red hair and chubby pink cheeks made them look like a pair of clowns when they walked down the street.”
Eighth Step – Roll for direct speech number one
Peter’s – “You better get out a bottle of your parsnip wine mother, I’m going to need it!”
Ninth Step – Roll for direct speech number two
Peter’s – “You knew all the time!” cried ____________ in amazement.
One of the direct speeches must be used as the closing sentence. This gives the student something to head towards. Now they must work on the story to get it to make sense. Remember this is a game and so must be fun (even if it is a little hard) and is locked to a time frame of one hour.
Peter’s Comment – One hour is not much time. You are working and thinking on your feet to make the threads you gained from the role of the die come together as some form of sensible clothe. I was amazed at how my opponent (Abbie, aged 10) was handling her story. I suspect she might be a Hemingway reincarnate. I did my best with my final draft – “Caught!”
This game is a lot of fun!
Writing Tutor’s Comment – This game may be a bit difficult for those learning to write (6 – 9 years of age). An easy adaptation is to work only in sentences with a total of five sentences.
- First sentence – Tells when and where
- Second sentence – Tells who
- Third sentence –Tells what happened
- Fourth sentence – Tells what happened
- Fifth sentence – Close the circle by repeating up to five words from the first sentence
Some children will need encouragement to tell their story. Don’t worry too much about spelling as those in grade two cannot spell well enough to spell the words they want to use. Spelling can be fixed up later. The important thing is to have them learn to develop their creativity and to put this creativity onto paper (to practise their penmanship).