Friday 2 August 2013

Creative writing workshops at Katherine Mansfield Birthplace

Thanks to the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace for hosting another series of school holiday creative writing workshops. There is something very special about sitting in a room of the house where KM was born, surrounded by photographs and memorabilia of her life, and talking to a group of young people who might be the writers of the next generation.
Katherine Mansfield Birthplace

The Year 6-8 students did some great work on Writing Arresting Openings. We talked about the different ways they could start a story to try and grab the reader from the very first sentence. We chose a story that we thought that many of them would know, and set them the challenge of coming up with an alternative opening.  Here are some of the wonderful first sentences they produced for a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood:

  • It all started on the edge of the dark woods.

  • "AARGH!" screamed the wolf as the woodchopper swung his bloody hatchet.

  • "Don't go through the forest," said her mother. "Whatever," said Little Red Riding Hood.

  • "Lunch," thought the Wolf, licking his lips.

  • I sat waiting in the woods, listening. I heard a snap. I looked and saw a flash of red. It was a small girl carrying a basket.

  • Once upon a time there was a little girl who should have taken the bus.

  • I was cutting wood one day when a small girl in a red hood passed by.

  • Once, long, long ago, there was a hood, and not just any hood. This one was of a dark blood-red colour.

  • I'm sure you've all heard of Little Red Riding Hood. The sweet girl everyone loves? Well, let me tell you now, those are LIES.

And finally:

  • Her cracked leather boots caught the sunlight escaping through the greenery, warming her sore feet and crooked toes. A bruise was forming on her leg where her treat-filled basket bumped against it. The journey was wearing her down, a sign that a hungry wolf noticed from his hidden point in the book.

I love the way that these students are already confident enough in their writing to play around with telling the story from different perspectives. They each  have their own way of handling language and ideas, setting, dialogue and description, and creating an individual narrative voice.

Great work!