*Please note, the content below is for term-time courses which are roughly 12 weeks long (12 hours). The summer courses (6-8 hours) will be condensed versions of this. For examples of work from last year’s summer courses, see Fantastical Creatures and Under the Ground.*
I use art, games, drama and music as a way in to story-writing.
I am passionate about increasing students’ confidence as writers so that they enjoy it. The formal focus of the classes is story-writing: each course focuses on a different story theme. Previous themes include:
twisted fairy-tales; ghost stories; myths and monsters; genre mix; alien stories; magic; comics and graphic novels; fantastical creatures; under the ground; quests; fairy-tale islands; dragons; Norse myths
The first stage of a course is all about ideas. We will do different things to generate ideas:
– read stories together, often picture books, or watch short film extracts
– play games (e.g. sensory games, word games, story-telling games, acting games)
– make art (e.g. collage a setting, model a character from a story, paint, draw)
In the next stage we start to build characters and plots for our stories. We will story-board ideas (using pictures) / brainstorm orally as a group / write plans for our stories. At this stage we may also do short pieces of writing, e.g. poems / descriptions etc.
We then start to write our stories. I introduce interesting literary techniques for students to use, some of which we will have already looked at in the creative games (these vary for each age group, but may include, for example, similes / metaphors / personification / sentence structure / show not tell / using the senses etc.).
We usually write the stories in stages with discussion after each stage (we all read our stories out loud and give feedback to each other). Finally, each student will finish writing their story and I will take it in to mark and give written feedback on it. Here is an article I’ve written on how I teach creative writing, as published in Families magazine: https://paintwritenow.co.uk/2016/12/04/how-i-teach-creative-writing/
My teaching methods and ethos come from my experience of teaching over the past ten years and my degrees in literature and law, in addition to research I have carried out on key teachers and writers who have written about the writing process. These include (but are not limited to): Pie Corbett, Jane Considine, Mary Roche, Steve Bowkett, Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell and Neil Gaiman.
Current research being undertaken by Anglia Ruskin University, that will conclude in September 2019, advocates teaching creative writing through the arts. In their interim report in September 2017 it was found: “[Through using art,] children’s writing changes, with greater and more varied use of vocabulary, an increase in the use of detailed description, an ability to sustain writing…demonstrating increased use of imagination” http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/702478/.
For examples of work from the Creative Writing classes see Beautiful Work from Creative Writing Classes 2016-2017. For examples of work from my most recent intensive courses see Under the Ground and Fantastical Creatures.