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 Post subject: short story writing
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:30 pm
Posts: 4
Location: West Wales
Hi

My son will be required to write a story in 20 minutes as part of an entrance exam for independent school coming up soon. We have been working hard on comprehensions using the Bond book which he is improving in but I think he will find it hard to do the story in the short time allowed.

Can anyone let me know roughly how long the story should be and any guidelines at all to help. Also what are the most important things they will be looking for (he is good at spelling and grammar and is imaginative although his writing is messy and his vocabulary may be limited as he attends a welsh medium school).

I'd also like to say thank you to everyone on the forums and also for the whole website which we've found enormously helpful in the past few weeks.

Thank you. :wink:


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:47 am
Posts: 3310
Location: Warwickshire.
From the top of my head:

Good and varied punctuation.

Reasonable spelling, or plausible alternatives.

Imagination.

Interesting and engaging to read.

Varied vocabulary - adjectives, adverbs, 'wow' words (more expressive/complicated language).

A variety of styles of sentence: Complex sentences, short ones for impact, variation in the way sentences are started (starting with an adverb for example).

Consistency in the tense used (unless the story flits between times!)

A beginning, middle and end.

Don't have too many characters in a short story. Two at the most.

Perhaps a description of the setting.

Maybe some speech, but not much or it becomes a playscript.

I would not expect more than a side of A4.

I hope this helps. It has been written at nearly 1am and may need adjusting!


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:57 pm
Posts: 54
Ed's mum wrote:


Good and varied punctuation.

Reasonable spelling, or plausible alternatives.

Imagination.

Interesting and engaging to read.

Varied vocabulary - adjectives, adverbs, 'wow' words (more expressive/complicated language).

A variety of styles of sentence: Complex sentences, short ones for impact, variation in the way sentences are started (starting with an adverb for example).

Consistency in the tense used (unless the story flits between times!)

A beginning, middle and end.

Don't have too many characters in a short story. Two at the most.

Perhaps a description of the setting.

Maybe some speech, but not much or it becomes a playscript.


I like these ideas as I am working with my son, and have used much of what has been mentioned above. There has been a marked improvement in his writing in just two weeks.

Some little tips to enhance this.

Always use alternatives to "and" & "but".
Always have simple question & answer dialogue.
Avoid repetition (e.g Jack & Jill can be the siblings, the children, the pair, the twosome etc.).

I would also recommend getting an A4 sheet with all the things they need to do and to have this as aide-mémoire in front of them while they write. Obviously they won't have it in the exam, but by then they will have pretty much commited most of it to memory.

The time given in these tests means it is best to have a basic formula and show off your writing as effectively as possible. There isn't the time to be creative.


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 Post subject: Re: short story writing
PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:52 am
Posts: 3
These are the basics of all stories:

1. Sympathetic character

2. Who faces a problem

3. Character solves problem

4. Planning the Plot

5.Plan your scenes

6. Write

7. revise


First, build your main character. If you already have a plot in mind, think of who needs this plot -- who has a need the plot's reward would fulfill? Who could grow by overcoming the obstacles? That is your main character. The stronger the story problem, the stronger the story. After planned character, conflict, scenes and start writing story


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 Post subject: Re: short story writing
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
Posts: 577
It is possible to do a bit of preparation in advance. He might want to think up a couple interesting characters who he can put into whatever scenario is suggested. He can also plan how to use varied sentence constructions, and can even make a list of his favourite unusual verbs or metaphors which he could slip in if he wants to.

Generally, under time pressure, aim for five paragraphs.

The opening paragraph starts mid action, rather than slowly building up with lots of unnecessary background.

It's better, for example to start with: 'Joe stared in growing wonder at the apparition in the river' than to start with: One day, Joe decided to go fishing by the river. He got dressed, had his breakfast and...' which actually bores the writer into a rut.

So:
Paragraph 1 sets the scene, introduces at least one lead character and their discovery/call to adventure/problem.
Para 2 introduces a DEVELOPMENT of the problem. This is key. Add an antagonist (someone who obstructs the hero from reaching their intended goal, whether by accident or design, by malign means or stupidity or good intentions gone awry.
Paragraph 3 reaches crisis point.
Paragraph 4 turns the crisis on its head, preferably by using something which has already been mentioned in the story. Again, this is key. Bringing in someone or something which hasn't yet been mentioned is a sign of immature story telling. So it would be better for Joe in the original scenario to escape from a predator by throwing fishing maggots at them or picking a lock with a fish hook than for an SAS man to blaze in with a gun and set him free or a sudden thunderstorm to smash a window.
Paragraph 5 returns the story to a new equilibrium. It is almost as it was at the outset but with the wisdom or experience gained from the story.

This is of course very schematic and the variations and developments on this are endless. But it's a helpful starting point under time and exam pressure. The point is, if he can learn how each of five paragraphs moves a story forward, and not get bogged down in it, then he will be able to concentrate on playing imaginatively with language and ideas.


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