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04 November 2023

Posted by Claire Hillier

Young Writers - week 1 - 'from deep inside a forest'

Warm Welcome to the FIRST Young Writers class,

We are delighted to launch our first term at Forest Arts. The theme for this 6 week term is ‘Stories from the Forest’. We had 7 young writers in today’s introductory class. 

Today we opened the session by sharing our names, where we are from, and our favorite books, genres, and authors that we enjoy reading. The ‘mystery’ genre seems to be quite popular;

  1. Mysteries

  2. Love Actually 

  3. David Williams books

  4. Harry Potter [series by JK Rowling]

  5. Jacqueline Wilson books

  6. Robin Stevens [Mystery books]

  7. Douglas Adams books

We then went on to discuss our writing experience. This ranges from writing competitions, to writing short stories at school, and everything in between.

Our goals and what we would like to get from this 6 week term include;

  • Generating ideas

  • Explore our curiosity about creative writing

  • Learning how to write a good story

  • To get out of bottom set English at school

We will attempt to help fulfil these ambitions over the term. It’s great to start with some clear aims.

The group then played an improvisation game called ‘DEER, BOAR, TREE’ to warm up and get our creativity flowing. (this one involves coordination and being willing to look a little bit silly at times! All good prep for building confidence, needed when sharing our written work in front of other people)

We then read the poem:  The Small Dragon by Brian Patten

I’ve found a small dragon in the woodshed.

Think it must have come from deep inside a forest

because it’s damp and green and leaves

are still reflecting in its eyes.

I fed it on many things, tried grass,

the roots of stars, hazel-nut and dandelion,

but it stared up at me as if to say, I need

foods you can’t provide.

It made a nest among the coal,

not unlike a bird's but larger,

it is out of place here,

and is quite silent.

If you believed in it I would come

hurrying to your house to let you share my wonder,

but I want instead to see

if you yourself will pass this way.

[Copyright: from Love Poems (Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1990), copyright © Brian Patten 1990, used by permission of the author.]

We discussed this piece of writing, and what we liked/didn't like about it. Then we did a writing exercise thinking about the poem, and the ‘Stories from the Forest’ theme;

  1. Our own unusual visitor who must have come from deep inside a forest. 

  2. Character: We invented characters and gave them names.

  3. We wrote character profiles - adding details about how they look, sound, speak.

  4. Settings - where might we find this unusual visitor? [at home, at school, at the supermarket, in the car, in the kitchen, at the park]

  5. Plot - action. What is our visitor doing? What are they making/eating/carrying?

  6. Plot - narrative. Are they on a mission/quest? Why have they come?

After making these notes we played another game: One Word Story

Each person in the room says one word at a time, the idea is to make it make sense and create a ‘group’ story. This one turned into an epic tale…

...about a Giant breaking both his ankles, eating pizza in A&E, crushing a car, eating a monkey, making friends with a Unicorn and a cat named Barbara, evading zombies, and eating a McFlurry the size of an aeroplane. [it was really quite good]

The class then worked on developing initial notes into the beginning of poems & stories. We did another exercise, writing a ‘list’ of instructions for our main character, on 'How to' survive a story. ['Dont jump backwards' is pretty solid advice, as is 'avoid zombies']

Some brilliant ideas came up and fantastic pieces of writing came out of this session. 

Students shared their first drafts, and we celebrated our achievements for this week. 

We then talked about optional homework:

  • To continue to develop these pieces of writing

  • To read our favourite Fairy Stories

The theme for next week is Fairy Stories, we will be looking at examples, playing more games, and doing some writing exercises on this topic.


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