“I wish I’d known this stuff when I was 10. So much better than a story mountain!” The comment came from a parent who had accompanied her daughter to one of my writing workshops at last year’s Ilkley Literature Festival – and it was music to my ears.
“This stuff” was a straightforward method of structuring a story so that it is exciting and grips the reader. It’s one that professional writers use a lot, a technique that has served me well throughout my long writing career and is still proving invaluable as I write episodes for the CBeebies series “Chuggington”.
But very few people – apart from writers – know about it. Certainly the vast majority of children don’t; they’re not usually taught it in school, because most teachers aren’t aware of it either. And yet it can make an enormous difference to the way in which young people think about a story, how they set about writing one, and the quality of the stories they produce.
Ever since I started devising and hosting writing workshops 20 years ago, my aim has been to take professional writing techniques of all kinds and find ways of making them accessible to everyone – even very young children. An eight-year-old girl who attended one of my Ilkley workshops wrote on her comments form that she had been “…learning interesting things about how to write a story. Rick made it funny to listen to”.
Like the parent’s comment above, that gave me great pleasure. If I can teach children interesting stuff and make it fun at the same time, that’s mission accomplished.
Rick Vanes will be teaching a creative writing class for 10-13 year olds on Saturday 13 March 1.00-3.00pm. For more information see our Diary of Events page
(Rick Vanes pic credit Yorkshire Evening Post)