- By Jen McVeity
- Published 03/25/2008
- Rating: Unrated
Here are the seven advanced techniques authors use to make a story powerful. Share this quick quiz to see which skills your kids use and to see what a difference practising writing in small ‘chunks’ can make… TOPIC: A Boy, a Bear and a Lucky Escape Plan for Success: Which plan is better? a) We went to the zoo and a bear got loose and chased Jeremy. b) We went to the zoo and a bear escaped and chased Jeremy, the naughtiest boy in the school. Our teacher whistled really loudly and threw a hamburger to distract the bear so Jeremy was saved. ANS (b): Always know the ending. Remember the Story Graph? A story should build to a great climax – which means the writer has to know the ending right away. If kids have no ending, they don’t have a story plan, they just have an idea and a couple of characters. Sizzling Starts: Which story start is more interesting? a) The lock on the bear’s cage looked old, and the bear looked cross. b) I woke up that morning, got dressed and ate breakfast. ANS (a): Warn kids NOT to start stories at the beginning of the day where nothing happens. Stories should start with action and excitement, to hook the reader instantly. Dynamic Dialogue: Which is the most powerful dialogue? a) Ms Elleson the teacher told us to stand back from the cage as the bear was growling loudly, but Jeremy didn’t listen. b) ‘Stand back,’ said Ms Elleson our teacher, but Jeremy didn’t listen. Suddenly the bear growled loudly. ‘Jeremy!’ cried Ms Elleson, ‘get away from the bear. NOW!’ ANS (b): bring characters to life by using dialogue. Which scene has more tension? a) The bear reared up and growled again. Then it jumped at Jeremy and the door flew open. Jeremy yelled and started running and the bear followed him.
b) The bear reared up and growled again even more loudly. Jeremy just laughed and p
retended to growl too and jumped around, teasing it. Suddenly the bear snarled and lunged at him. The rusted lock on the door rattled and then, with a crack, it broke apart. The cage door slid open and for a moment, the bear just stood there, confused and angry. Then with a yell, Jeremy started running – and the bear followed. ANS: (b): Young writers often make the tension scenes too short. Show them how to escalate the action slowly but powerfully to increase excitement. Show, Don’t Tell. Which sentence ‘tells’ and which ‘shows’? a) I was really scared. b) My heart was thudding loudly in my chest and brain. ANS: (a) tells and (b) shows. Showing is far more convincing to the reader. Ban the Boring Bits. Which sentence would YOU rather read? a) Suddenly Ms Elleson put her fingers to her mouth and gave a really loud whistle. Matthew and Lance and Pete and I nearly went deaf. The bear skidded to a halt and looked at her. Slowly she bent and put the hamburger she’d just bought from the shop, on the ground and stepped back. b) Suddenly Ms Elleson put her fingers to her mouth and gave a really loud whistle. The bear skidded to a halt and looked at her. Slowly she bent and put her hamburger on the ground and stepped back. ANS: (b) By cutting out unnecessary detail the reader is hooked on what is happening to the characters and wants to keep reading. Exciting Endings. Which ending holds your interest the most? a) The rangers caught the bear easily, it was still eating the hamburger. Then we saw a few more animals and caught the bus back to school. b) The rangers caught the bear easily, it was still eating the hamburger. ‘Jeremy,’ said Ms Elleson, ‘you owe me a hamburger. Get me one from the shop please.’ Jeremy just looked at her in amazement. She wasn’t even sweating. ‘Now please Jeremy,’ she said firmly. And for once, Jeremy did exactly what he was told. ANS: (b) Keep your reader hooked right to the end – no boring bus trips home.
(c) Jen McVeity, National Literacy Champion.
The fun Seven Steps to Writing Success program, by successful author, Jen McVeity, is in 900+ schools. Suited to the home school curriculum & gifted children, it has rapidly increased students’ writing skills and enjoyment. Visit http://www.sevenstepswriting.com for top writing tips and activities – more in the free Parent Newsletters. Click on ‘Sample’ tab for a free Story Starters Worksheet.
by Jen McVeity