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Write On Issue 57: Believe It or Not : Notes for Writers and Teachers #3

In a world where the lines between truth and fiction are often blurred, we asked young writers to tell us the truth, or lies, or something in-between. After all, truth can lie at the heart of fiction.

On Pages 4&5 THE REAL DEAL our young writers drew from their memories to write personal stories. A key feature of personal stories is that that require authentic author voices. We want to hear the story but also gather an understanding of who the writer might be.

As you read each of these pieces you will notice similarities in the form but also look for the differences. How does each piece reflect the individual voice of the author?


My First Ski Lesson by Alex, Year 6

R.I.P Spidy by Katie Year 6

The Head-sitting Goose by Kate, Year 7

The Trap by Elia, Year 6

What do you fear? by Morrin, Year 10

Anxious Performance by Lucy , Year 10

The Flying Cow by Ashley, Year 8

First Time by Callum, Year 10

In My First Ski Lesson, Alex uses a conversational tone underlined with humour- just read the first few sentences that introduce each of the family members. How is it that Alex gets us to laugh along with him as the events unfold?

Katie does not spell out the disaster - she shows it to us in the last line but also gave a hint with her title R.I.P. Spidy. (Titles are often decided after the story is finished.) Katie made a key decision to place her story in third person. How does this affect the telling of the story? She also changed the name of the other main character which is a very kind thing to do - "Abby" was only four years old after all.

In The Head-sitting Goose, Kate uses dialogue to drive the action forward, rather than telling us what happens. As the witness to the main event, she draws us in by using sensory detail so we see it through her eyes and hear it all through her ears.

The Trap, by Elia, made us laugh. This is a short piece but Elia gives us all the detail we need to understand the actions and feelings. What effect does the final question have?

Both Morrin and Elsie explore moments of overcoming fear and anxiety. These are emotions that we all experience and it is great to read about how other people cope. Look at how each author brings her own voice to the tone and style of the writing , especially as they pause the action and intensify the senses.

At the start of The Flying Cow, Ashley provides the "townie" reader with just enough information they need to understand the story. Yet later, in the middle of the action, she leaves us to make sense for ourselves of how hip clamps and a sling might work. This is very respectful of the reader. Although this story doesn't have the happy ending we were hoping for, what new insights do you have into the writer's character and experiences?

Callum draws on a distant memory for First Time. We sense his excitement and the thrill of learning a new skill. We thought his last line capped this piece delightfully. Last lines can swerve us away from what has gone before, leave us hanging at a key moment, or they can resolve the story. Go back and look at how each writer used the last line of their piece.

There are more personal stories on pages 10 & 11 where we feature the winners of our recent memoir competition (which is now closed). For tip and prompts for writing memoir see here: KEEP IT REAL MEMOIR TIPS and HERE

Happy writing TEACHERS, If you wish to order extra copies of Write On Issue 57: Believe It or Not so your students can each access a copy, please order here. We have special discounts for class sets of 10 or 30. Seeking publication opportunities for your young writers? We are open now for submissions for Write On Issue 58: Food for Thought. See here. (C) Write On 2022


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