That quote is by American writer Toni Morrison – great words!
This is a fitting quote for Stanford Juniors’ next task set by their adopted author, Ross Montgomery …
By now you’ve invented an alien, and used similes and evocative language to describe different parts of it.Read either pp. 29-32 (Perijee turning into a person) or pp. 68-70 (Perijee appearing in front of Caitlin’s parents) – depending on how far you’ve got in the book! In these short extracts, we see Perijee changing and the effect it has on people. Try and spot some examples of similes and descriptive language I’ve used.YOUR next step is to pretend you’ve written a whole book about your alien. You’re going to write the scene where your alien first appears!RULES1. You don’t need to write a whole story – just one short scene. A few paragraphs should be enough. You don’t need to come up with a whole backstory, or an explanation where this alien has come from.2. In the scene, your narrator is going to discover your alien. You can write it in first person – e.g. “I gasped in shock” – or third person if you prefer – e.g “Daisy gasped in shock”. The choice is yours!3. Start by imagining a good place for your alien to be discovered – it should depend on how you want the scene to “feel”. If you want the scene to be scary, a good place would be a barren forest in the middle of the night – perhaps your narrator is trying to find his/her way home through the fog with a flashlight when they stumble across the alien. If you want the scene to be awe-inspiring, maybe the narrator could go exploring an old abandoned cave and find it there.The options are endless: it could be in a foul stinking sewer, the narrator’s bedroom, a dusty old shed at the bottom of a garden… think about what works for your alien, and what you would enjoy writing!4. First of all, take a sentence or two to describe the setting. This is a good way to build up a sense of how the reader should feel when they’re reading – scared, amazed, confused…EXAMPLE 1: I crept through the dark, dismal corridor, my heart pounding with terror in my chest.EXAMPLE 2: Jeremy walked mesmerised through the sunlit trees, towards the glade where the haunting music was playing…5. When your narrator sees the alien, take a few sentences to describe the alien. This bit should be easy – you’ve already done the hard work! Look at the sentences you came up for your alien and choose the ones you think are most effective. You don’t need all of them – three or four should be enough.Make sure you choose a good mix so we get a “picture” in our head – it would be a pity if all three descriptions were about your alien’s feet, for example!Feel free to alter or improve your descriptions if you think they could be better – you may have come up with some new ideas over the last few weeks!6. Last of all, make it clear how the narrator feels after seeing the alien. Are they terrified? Amazed? Disgusted? Delighted? Does the alien know it’s been seen – do they talk to each other? The choice is yours!I look forward to seeing your ideas! Remember, these passages don’t need to be long – it’s better to write something short and punchy than something long and boring!Have fun and speak soon,Rossx
Well as we know, Stanford Juniors are a very creative lot and have approached Ross’ idea from a different angle – before they begin writing their first scene, the class have created a storyboard to help them plan their first draft. How organised!
Ross seemed impressed by this initiative and responded:
Hello Year 6s,I loved your work this week! I wasn’t expecting to see comic strip storyboards, but it really helped show off and structure your ideas (and drawing skills!) When I write, I usually have to plan out every chapter in detail before I get started – it can be really tough but is vital if you want to make sure your writing’s going to be the best it can be. I particularly liked Suzi-Anne’s terrifying alien getting annoyed at being called ugly, and Ruby’s duplicating aliens being shoved in the wardrobe!Speak soon,Ross