Top Tips To Develop Your Fictional Writing
Top Teacher Tips by Tegan Walker
Creative writing. A sometimes daunting topic that many people struggle to dive straight into. I know that I am someone who struggles to choose a convincing and engaging topic out of thin air and since becoming a teacher I know how important creative writing is, especially when it comes to those English Language examinations, where you can get a lot of marks on this type of question.
With this in mind, here are some useful tips to help you to prepare yourself for any creative writing task that you may be faced with. I have tested these ideas on a variety of students and believe that they are especially useful when you are staring on a blank page, wondering what to write about next. These tips focus on fictional writing in particular and provide you with some suggestions on how to get those creative juices flowing.
Choose an image
Using an image as a reference point can be a very useful way to develop your descriptions and settings within your creative writing. Once you have a general idea of what you would like to write about, find an image (Google has loads!) and use it to springboard your ideas from. Start off by looking at interesting aspects of the image, what jumps out at you? What did you not necessarily notice at first? And most importantly, imagine that you are inside that image. Consider the aspects of the image that you don’t explicitly see on the screen, or page. If you have chosen a warehouse for example, is there machinery, tools or other similar objects that can support your description, or even mention something unexpected that creates a sense of mystery for your reader. Once you’re at this point start to consider your other senses (smell, taste, sound and touch). What scents are lingering in the air? Again, are they expected or unexpected? Is there anybody else in the scene with you, can you hear voices? What can you feel? Is it warm, cold or can you feel tension building in that place? Not only does this help to make your writing much more interesting for your reader, but it also helps you to be awarded more marks when it eventually comes to your GCSE examinations. So getting used to writing this way now is a huge bonus!
Moving through the image
As I mentioned above, it is important to picture yourself inside the image that you choose. You can do this in your exams as well, as you will be provided with an image to start you off. Whether you decide to write a description of the image, or use it as a basis for a story, moving around inside the image will help you to boost your marks and make for an interesting read for the examiner. You have already imagined what you can see, hear smell, etc. but how about where you go next? Rather than just looking around, actually picture yourself moving around in the image. Walk over to that fire-engine red oil drum, investigate the scratches on the wall, or swim in the beautiful sapphire lagoon. Moving through the image will allow you to focus on the journey that you, or your characters, are taking within your writing. Most importantly, just because you have chosen to use an image, don’t feel that you are constrained to it. Wander through that door in the corner, climb the trees in the forest and explore the colours and creations of the market. The beauty of this, and the key to remember, is that this is YOUR writing, where do YOU want to go? What do YOU want to explore? And how can YOU bring your creative ideas to life?
Listen to sound clips
If you are struggling with sounds for your image, try listening to some sound clips online that might prompt your ideas to blossom effectively. I tried this with a year 7 class in my training year and it was a huge success! Youtube is a wonderful tool that can be used to support your learning in a number of ways and here is where you can bring your ideas to life. When I implemented this in a class, it encouraged students not only to consider what they could actually hear, but also aiding them to think about the connotations of those sounds. For example, earlier in my lesson I had shown my year 7’s an image of a tropical island and worked through the process of developing ideas based on their five senses. However, they were struggling to move forward and picture themselves moving around inside the image, struggling to imagine how they could explore the gigantic bottle green forest that was sitting at the edge of the image. So I found a sound clip of a tropical island, with waves crashing on the sand, birds singing, animals and insects purring in the background, and asked the students to close their eyes and just listen. It was as if I had found a way to increase their imaginations tenfold through the use of just one simple clip. The students were able to accurately picture themselves on the island. They could tell me what else they could see, developing their descriptions impressively, and one student even commented that it made them think that they could hear an aeroplane soaring overhead. This technique can be used when you introduce a new character (what do they sound like?), Or when you introduce somewhere new. The creativity that can grow from a simple clip really helps to give your writing more depth and enables your readers to put themselves there as you describe the details around you. Now obviously you won’t be able to listen to sound clips in your exams but just getting used to describing what you can hear will help to influence where you take your writing next.
With these tips, you can create a bank of ideas that maybe you don’t include in your first, or even second, piece of creative writing but the process of thinking about them and developing simplistic ideas enables you to develop your imagination and mindset. So that when it does come to a creative writing class, an exam or even just a quiet Sunday afternoon, you will have the tools to create a strong, descriptive and engaging piece of writing.