Exercises

Hoo and Zebby have put together some fun and simple exercises to help you on your storytelling adventure. Each week they will add new exercises.

Exercise 1:

THE SEED

Think of writing like cooking.  You need the right ingredients to make that perfect pie.  Add the perfect mix and you’ll end up with a scrummy meal to gobble up!  Simple enough.

So start thinking…

  • Who
  • Where
  • What

Can you come up with a list of people, a list of places and a list of problems?

Here’s a table for you to print out and use, Hoo’s started you off with one idea in each column, can you think of some more to add?

When you’ve done that choose one from each column and that is the start of your story.

Hoo and Zebby want to help… they have already done the exercise above.  They’ve chosen a monster who’s trapped on an island and he’s lonely.

Read their example and then write your own beginning.

Rex the monster escaped from the island of Polta. He misses Lila, his flying companion from home. Will he ever return to the island, and how did he get there? Rex needs to retrace his steps and find Lila. There is just one thing in his way… the ocean. Can he build a raft and journey safely back home?


Exercise 2

GENRE

So you have your WHO, WHAT and WHERE of the story, but how about giving your story a genre.  A genre is like a theme, how you would describe it to someone else?  Take the examples below.

There are many genres that novels fall under, here are just a few:

Adventure – an exciting journey of discovery, like James and the Giant Peach, Treasure Island.

Fantasy – a story that has made up ideas in it, such as wizards, monsters, like

Harry Potter, the Wizard of Oz.

Horror – ghost stories, like Coraline, Goosebumps.

Mystery – stories with a case that needs to be solved like, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, Famous Five.

A theme is important as it helps you write your story.  For instance, lets think back to our example. 

Rex the monster escaped from the island of Polta. He misses Lila, his flying companion from home. Will he ever return to the island, and how did he get there? Rex needs to retrace his steps and find Lila. There is just one thing in his way… the ocean. Can he build a raft and journey safely back home?

Depending on the type of genre you choose, your story could end up changing very dramatically.

If we wanted this to be an adventure story:

  • Rex could set off on his way to find Lila, but ends up meeting pirates on his way and finding a treasure map.  After Rex has found Lila, they could set off to find the treasure using the map.

Of course, if we choose a horror genre, see how the story changes.

  • Rex sets off on a raft, but hears howls during the night.  He encounters a series of ghosts who tell him the island is haunted and he must not come back to the island.

Can you see how important choosing your genre is?

Your next task is to choose which genre you want your story to be.

After you’ve done that, give it a title.  Something short and sharp that is easy for people to remember works well.  Download the title tips page here.


Exercise 3: Characters

We know where the story is going to take place and you’ve given it a title and genre, but what about the characters?

Most stories have key characters, a goodie, a baddie and a friend.  Let’s keep it simple.

Star Wars. 

  • Goodie = Luke
  • Baddie = Darth Vader
  • Friend = Leia

We know that there are more characters than that, but lets focus on the important ones.

Can you list 3 examples of a goodie, baddie and friend character from your favourite film or book and say what it is you like about them?

GOODIEBADDIEFRIEND
   
   
   

Fill in a profile for each character here.


Exercise 4: Plot Map

You’re doing great with your writing so far, we have a genre, a title, characters, but what next? 

Well, before you start working on the actual story, you need to map it out.

Most stories follow the same lines. 

The main character is going about their life, but then something unexpected happens. 

They need to go on a mission to sort out the problem before life can go back to normal.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of most books or films.  The characters meet unexpected problems who try and get in the way of their mission, but in the end, all is restored back to normal. 

Take the example below.  Matilda wants to learn, but Miss Trunchbull stands in her way.  With Matilda’s power she gets back at her head teacher and her parents, and then lives happily again without the bullies.

Matilda longs to learn, eventually she gets sent to school and meets the evil principal, Agatha Trunchbull.  When Matilda realizes she has the power of telekinesis, she begins to defend her friends from Trunchbull’s bullying and fight back against her unkind parents.

our task: Create a plot map for your story.  What does your character want, and  who or what will get in their way? Use the diagram below to help you fill in your story map.

Download the plot map here.


Let’s build something together.


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