Writer's Blog

Writing Warriors Term 2 2016
This term a group of divergent thinkers have come together to play with words! We are focusing on creativity and excellence; two key attributes learners develop during their time at RSS.

This week we looked at 'basic-better-best' words to refine our thinking. Often in our writing we struggle to attend to 'best fit words' where we are saying exactly what we mean; giving the reader a strong image. For example, does the word 'said' mean screamed, screeched, or squealed? All of these words give the reader a little bit more information, and a great image, of what a character may be feeling.  We had fun with some basic starter words that are often over-used and intensified them. Check out what we came up with below. Can you connect with the colour choices for each group of words?

We are learning to hone our  skills in re-crafting for excellence. This week we created alphabet sentences. Some of these combine to tell clever stories. Each new word had to start with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, making the drafting and editing process a lot trickier!

A bull came down.     Nikolai

A bear can drive every ford.
Galloping horses injure jackals.
King lions mame narwhals.
Octopuses press Queen rats.
Suffocating tigers understand voles.
Werewolves x-ray yellow zebras.          Abby

A boat crashed dumbly entering forbidden Goat Island.  Toby

A big cow dancing eats funny grapes, hyperventilating in joy.
King Leprachan made nothing of Philip questioning radical seals.     Alex

A baby cried ‘don’t ever frighten Grandma!” he insisted.   Marion

A buffalo crossed distances everyone foretold. Giant horses iced Jupiter; killing Larry my nemisis.        Jhaz

Amy bought canned duck eggs for Grandma Homer in Jarville.
King Luca munches nine oreos politely.
Queen Rachel swallows immortal unicorns violently with xylophone-yodeling zebras.                           Eva

A bee crazily destroys everything from Grandpa’s horses.
In Jersey King Loppy met NASA on Pluto.         Jamie

A big cat dances everywhere farting grandly. Hovering intensely. Jumping King Lukas munches  Narwhals, over puking quail. Rabbits scampering. Twitching whiskers. X-ray yellow  zaps around...     Miko
Always bad…catastrophic disasters. Everyone firing guns. How ignorant!           Patrick

A boy cried. Dan exploded Finn.
Grandma had insects join knots like Mamas notoriously old pie.
Qwade raced Sam to Uranus.

Victoria was Xion’s yen-making zapper   Qwade

Over the last couple of weeks we have been exploring a picture book called 'The Black Book of Colours.' by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria.
It's unusual title and cover evoked a lot of discussion and the story inside didn't disappoint! As the pages unfold, colours are described - by touch, taste, smell, and sound. Each piece of text is also written in braille and the accompanying illustrations are black-on-black embossed images.

We were very inspired and had to create our own! Check out our imagery below...

Red tastes like a crunchy, juicy apple, the apple juice dripping down my chin really slowly. 
It feels so smooth like melted chocolate running down a strawberry. 
Red sounds like crashing from a waterfall on a windy day.
It smells like whipped cream and strawberries on the best sundae ever.   Jamie yr6

Yellow feels like a soft sponge soaked with water.  
It sounds like really calm music and tastes like sweet L&P.
Yellow smells like soft, fluffy flying ‘catnaries' in the mist.         Miko yr6

Orange tastes like butter chicken and garlic naan.
It feels like crunchy autumn leaves skittling across the ground. 
Oranges smell like smoke from a fire. It sounds like fizzy fanta in a glass.   Nikolai yr5

Blue tastes like salty water when it gets in my mouth with and washed in too.
It smells like freshly picked blueberries that squish easily in my hands.
It feels like frozen ice sticking to my hands; cold and unwelcoming.
Blue will always sound like the crashing of waves on a deserted beach untamed and frothing like a wolf about to fight.   Harriet yr6

Yellow tastes like a bubbling bitter tang in a lemonade drink, splashing against a cold glimmering glass.
It sounds like the roar of a beautiful majestic lion striding along into the distance.
It feels like the soft, silky squish of the sand beneath your feet on a windy day at the beach.
Tanned after the glistening wave of the water. 
And at last, yellow smells like spicy mustard liquid dripping onto a delicious hotdog freshly baked waiting for a suspicious golden bird to swoop down and gulp it up!    Jhaz yr6

Yellow is happiness. It feels warm and safe. 
It shines like the sun and smells like gooey caramel. 
It tastes like a crunchy bar, sweet and sugary. 
Like a blazing fire burning marshmallows on a cold winter night. 
Yellow is the feeling you get when your favourite song comes on the radio and Dad starts singing!     Eva M yr4

A rainbow tastes like a sour fizzy lollie bursting with flavour in your mouth.
It feels like a fluffy melted marshmallow after having dinner at camp.
A rainbow sounds like a laughing happy family caring about each other.
A rainbow’s touch is like a fluffy kitten’s fur after having a bath.           Marion yr5

Yellow feels like the sun boiling your skin on a hot summer day.
It smells like a recently planted sunflower.
Yellow tastes like the bunches of bananas that you bought from a grocery store.
Yellow sounds like the splishing and splashing of your brand new bottle of mustard being poured onto your yummy new hotdog.           Qwade yr6

Blue sounds like the ocean crashing against the rocks in the dead of night but it smells fresh and salty like the beach air. 
Blue feels soft like a pillow under my head as I go to sleep. 
But it tastes like the juice inside blueberries squirting around my mouth.         Alex yr5

Grey is the child of the King and Queen of colours; inheriting Mum’s kindness and Dad’s knack of spotting the bad.
It tastes like the perfect marshmallow: not too soft and not too burnt.
Grey feels smooth but stands out, telling everyone it’s there to help.
Grey sounds like a soft lullaby reminding you of when you were young not needing to worry about a thing.
Grey smells like your favourite warm food in the winter; warming and soothing your bones.   Patrick yr5

Red feels hot like a surge of fire pulsing through your veins when you are most angry.
It tastes like blood flooding in your mouth and dripping through your throat.
Red is like hot chilli peppers, wafted up your nose so that they can let their smell loose inside.
It sounds like a lion’s roar, pouring through your ears and bursting your eardrums.    Abby yr5

Red is the bitter, cold liquid that oozes out of your gums when your tooth comes out.
It sounds like something dripping on the floor that is too thick to be water and not as solid as spit.
Red is the feeling you get when you are extremely grumpy and try to smash down the locked door that leads out of your room. 
Red can feel like a really soft rug that was passed down by your great grandma.     Toby yr5

Purple feels like soft running water trickling down the stream.
It smells like musty and damp places underground.
Purple tastes like a raspberry popsicle melting in your mouth.
It sounds like a choir mourning a persons death.
Purple is a sad colour but sometimes it can be a sanctuary.     Jayden P yr6

Plush smells like freshly picked lemons from the tree.
It feels like my bunny after a cold, wet bath.
Plush sounds like bouncing bunnies thumping up and down.  
It tastes like kiwifruit all nice and cut up.          Eva H yr3

Purple tastes like a freshly picked blueberry exploding in my mouth.
It sounds like when I put sea shells to my ear and I can hear the waves clashing around in the shell. 
Purple feels like fresh glue out of the container. 
It smells like an unripe lemon picked from a tree in winter.    Amelie yr3

Blue sounds like the ocean swinging slowly.
It tastes like something cold. 
It hurts a bit too because when you eat too much it gives you a brain freeze. 
Blues smells sweet like blueberries when I’m about to eat them.    Liwan  yr1

Light blue sounds like clouds moving slowly across the sky.
Light blue tastes like salt dissolving in the ocean. 
Light blue feels like bunnies hopping around after I pat their soft fur. 
Light blue smells like water up my nose when I go swimming.      Renee yr1

Writer's Blog
A writer's blog has been set up for emerging students authors in our school. This is a place where they can share their writing with a wider audience, give and receive feedback, and collaborate with other passionate writers. Older published student authors, including past students of RSS, have been invited to be part of this blog to inspire our student authors as they develop their own writer's voice. You can access this blog and their amazing pieces at http://rsswritersblog.blogspot.co.nz/

Regularly, they will take part in skill workshops to develop specific writing skills that they can then practice in class and personal writing. Here is a summary of what we cover at the workshops:

Workshop 1
 Brilliant Beginnings

Today we raided the library for examples of brilliant beginnings - not just good or great - but BRILLIANT.  How would we know when we had one? Well first of all our tough critic Abby had to give it the thumbs up. We decided good criteria would be that a brilliant beginning would draw the reader in and hook them like a fish. Despite struggling and squirming with all our might we just couldn't put the book down... the beginning was THAT good!

So what are some great strategies for brilliant beginnings? Here is a list of 10 to get us started:

An Interesting Description Ashes filled the air when I was around the camp fire. Crackle, crackle it went.

Sound  Boom! The trunk slammed. Bang! The car doors slammed as we got out of the van.

Exclamation Yeah! We’re going to Disneyland tomorrow! Yeah!” I yelled about as loud as I could.

A thought  I’m in big trouble now, I thought to myself.

A question Have you ever been an Editor? Well I’ll tell you, it’s a big job!

Extremely strong feelings The very first time I saw asparagus I hated it. I had never even tried it before and I still hated it!

Scary, exciting, or intense moment...I tried to run, but I couldn’t. The monster seemed like it was growing by the minute! And then, the most horrible thing was about to happen -— I screamed and sat bolt upright in bed. I gasped swallowing huge amounts of air.

Conversation “We’re moving.” That’s what she told me. I couldn’t believe it! I had just made the basketball team and was making more friends. “What!” I exclaimed.

Describe the setting The deafening crowd was packed into the Caketin on the sold-out rugby final. Hundreds of people were outfitted in brand new costumes and were enjoying the game.

Fast action I raced inside, slamming the front door behind me. I plopped my backpack on the floor and dashed for the kitchen. Our cat, asleep in the hallway, quickly awoke and scurried out of harms way. I knew I only had a few precious seconds before my brother, coming in through the back door, beat me to the kitchen and nabbed the last of Mum’s brownies.

It didn't take us long before books were flying off the shelves! Brilliant beginnings are obviously important for successful stories. Here are some of the brilliant beginnings that grabbed our attention:

“She was aware of their presence in the room before she even awoke. An ominous twitching had begun in Tanya’s eyelids, a sure sign that trouble was on its way.”

“The arrow flew over his shoulder and thudded straight into a wooden post. Too close!”

Zack Freeman looked up and realised that he was about to be squashed by a giant brown blob. Oh No! he thought. not a giant brown...but that was all he had time to think before the giant brown blob crashed down on top of him.”

“Unk island is not a place that gets many visitors. Shaped like a broken coffin it squats at the back end of nowhere.”

“My parents SUV rolled into the school parking lot, past the imposing ivy-covered  wrought-iron gates.”

“You might think that any story that starts with a dog at a funeral would either be sad or scary - like maybe it turns out it’s actually a zombie dog that wants to eat your brains. But this isn’t a story about a Zombie.”

Three Key Ingredients

Today we focused on the key ingredients of a great story.  Readers always want to know what’s going on,  they use feelings to connect with characters in the story  and they need some basic information about where and when things happen and what led up to that. If you don’t give them this they will get confused or ask lots of questions. Either way, they won't keep reading your work!

Remembering three key ingredients when you write will keep your readers engaged.  Every time you begin writing about a new scene make sure your readers get three types of information:

ACTION There’s something important happening in this scene. If there wasn’t, you wouldn’t be writing about it. Your readers are following the action closely. You need to describe the action simply and completely so people will know what’s going on.

FEELINGS You want your readers to care about your characters. The best way to do that is to describe how people feel and why they feel the way they do.

SETTING Readers sometimes get confused if they don’t know where and when something is taking place. They also like to know about things that led up to what you’re writing about.

                                               Adapted from 'The Writing Teacher's Strategy Guide' by Steve Peha

We used an existing piece of writing or started from scratch to practice this technique. We agreed that it certainly made us more engaged as a reader. Here is an example from Millie:

The vets bustled around outside the door, unaware if the pain we were going through. Indy kept sitting up and then lying down. He had just been to the Vet’s several days earlier, so why was he here again? I honestly didn’t know because Mum and Dad had tears in their eyes every-time that I asked them what was wrong with him. Indy’s ears flapped as he shook his head free from my salty tears that were dropping into his silky fur. I felt a surge of love, and felt that I needed to protect the dog that had stayed by my side, pushed me out if my bed and chewed my favourite teddy’s to pieces....

Millie started with action for this scene and it works really well but she could have started with feelings or setting instead. As a writer we are always making choices that will keep the reader hooked in. So sometimes feelings might be more appropriate, and other times setting is the way to go. 

Over the next few weeks our emerging authors will be uploading pieces to our blog. Some will be pieces they want to share, some will be pieces they are stuck with and need advice or a new perspective. Take time to read their work and give them feedback.

Happy writing!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you all found some very intriguing story beginnings - it certainly makes me want to keep reading!