Friday, 11 January 2013

Creative Writing a FREE 7-wk workshop : Part 4

I can't believe it myself. There I was again sitting in yet another session of DreamCatcher with Sara & Janelle. I can't believe that they didn't notice I had been sitting in, that many times. Well yes I was informed I was welcome to sit in for a few sessions. Not that I was a distraction in aniwae.. or noisy for that matter.. no wait.. my two baby boys were noisy occasionally.. but you see.. Never once did the ladies question my hogging that cushiony corner in the room each time we came. In fact, truth be told.. when I thought to myself that I should probably sit outside.. one of them was sure to invite me in instead. Never once when either of my boys whined louder than I would normally allow (in public), was i/were we chased out of the dream room. We always felt welcome. 

Thank you.

Why did I call it a dream room? 

Because, in the claustrophobic norm of SG homes, having a spare room in a household shared by several family members is a dream...

Because, in the dream room is where we (the girls and I) found solace that all our thoughts and ideas were accepted...

Because, that is the very room where a mother's dream finally came true. To nurture and to guide all her children's academic journeys (in fact together with cousins too! *salute*)... Sara's mom can finally retire from teaching in the dream room and now pursue her own (dreams). Tirelessly, Sara's mom accomplished a mighty feat of being there for her children yes, all 5 of them and it's time they left the nest to fly free and decide on the future they dream of pursuing, for real. The dream room is a special room where everyone in the family (and now us!) can look back into the beautiful memories having spent in there immersed in the joys of learning. She is an inspirational mom and now her daughter, Sara, is no less inspirational... to us all.

Because, where many can only dream of the ability to write with flair from memorizing, from modeling someone else's writing, from having to constrict our creativity because some school teacher said 'we had too many ideas'... that room offered sanctuary where creative juices fly around until they find space on the blank pages of crisp papers waiting to be filled with stories after stories and they are all ours and ours alone. Not someone else's ideas. Not following someone else's train of thoughts. The writings we pen down are all ours. From how we perceive our world and surroundings, from how veraciously we dunk our sub-conscious moments into our books, from our personal experiences with life and with that, the stories are original and special to us for we can write how we feel.. no matter how the juices of creativity come to us.

DreamCatcher was there to guide our thoughts and dreams and channel them into our own (written) masterpieces we never thought we were capable of. 

The dream room is sacred. It's THE room where little dreams first began and where these same dreams can become reality...

Now, back to reality... today's session was on writing genres. Instead of going into books children read, Sara and Janelle tapped on movies instead. The children tried to recall the different movies they have watched to fit into the varying genres the ladies were dishing out. Here's a few (genres) this old auntie's brain absorbed. Mind you, I was in class with two babies as well ok? Give some discount.

1.Horror
2.Fantasy
3.Comedy
4.Fiction
5.Realistic fiction
6.Romance
7.Thriller

etc... Sara & Janelle took turns to further explain how to classify certain movies into its appropriate genre... and also that some movies may include more than one specific genre.

Next, she read us a paragraph from a book.
This book...



In the silence of the room, her stoic tone read this short paragraph...

"Fatima and the animal watched one another, she frightened and it suspicious. Except for occasional growls, which became less menacing each time, the tiger showed no signs of really wanting to attach her. Instead, after a while the animal took a diminishing interest in her. Its huge pays, stretched out in front, now and then dug its claws into the damp grass. Except when she moved the animal's attention seemed to be nowhere in particular. The glare of its eyes had changed into a sullen and frequently bored expression, so that Fatima noticed the surprising changes of mood in the animal's eyes."

"Meanwhile the dusk which had crept from over the hills had obliterated the colourful scene of a moment ago, and replaced it with grey shadows which drifted imperceptibly into darkness."

Excerpt from The Tiger written by S. Rajaratnam. 
~ The Singapore Short Stories ~

Note to author : Spellbinding from start to finish. 
Thank you for such inspirational writing.



The reading was superb. Enthralled with the visions from her reading (that paragraph).. Sara went on to explain that words when described simply yet vividly can impact a reader and makes all the difference.

I was personally quite spellbound. I did not recall doing that book myself whilst doing Lit. I did Romeo & Juliet and the Mockingbird book.

In today's pre-writing spark session, Sara & Janelle prepared phrase-strips for the children to select. Without looking at them, children pick a few strips, each from a different category.. think about a genre.. and use the phrases/words to form a short paragraph. 

As usual, here's a sample of DD's effort.



Buds' Note :

I recall an activity with Kindergarteners in Year 2 (K2) I did during one of my sessions. It was a Comprehension session. The activity of the day had me handing some picture cards detailing a full story. The objective was to piece these cards, think about 15 of them into a full story. The sequence had to be correct hence some comprehension was required from the children. There were two sets of cards so I divided the small group into 3 each and got them arranging these cards to form the full story. One via the pictures and the other via the short liners on every card. The control of error was that the numbers would not be in order if the children were to have arranged the sequence in another way. If it did, we went through how to observe which story line fits where.. 

From the above activity done at DreamCatcher and the one I did with my students, parents could help children channel their ideas more constructively in a similar fashion perhaps. Instead of using word guides provided by a picture (for picture composition), ask your children to list down their ideas into short liners. After they write down the sentences, cut them out into strips. 

Upon finishing those idea-strips, involve the child in the editing process. Invite the child to sift through the content he/she made to form a full story. Paste the strips onto a coloured paper and initial it as the 1st draft.

The child should take the time to look into correcting any grammar / spelling errors or even include or replace new vocabulary that comes to mind when proof-reading the first draft from the completed full story (sentence strips).

Keep the draft as a momento of yet another successful written piece. One can only see the rate of improvement (in writing skills) if there was a lovely compilation of writing from when the child first started writing.

Personal tip :-

A good and successfully written piece should mirror the title. When I wrote my pieces in my primary school compositions, I would sometimes visualize an ending for it (relevant to the title) when I begin to brainstorm the ideas in my mind. This way, I am channelling myself not to go out of point at any point in time.

After which, I set up the plot in the manner I'd like to take it for example with inclusion of comedic content or suspense or even a misunderstanding of sorts.

There are many different strokes for all the different folks (and blokes!). The possibilities are endless so don't limit yourself. Only then can creativity seep in...



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