Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Story Seeds/Writing Tips #19 - Great Ideas from Unexpected Places

Continuing on my current blog theme of  1) a tiny, real-life seed from which one of my stories unfolded and 2) a writing tip that helped the seed grow into a finished story.

 The Seed:  It was a good-sized rope, as thick my thumb and much longer than I was tall.  "It's a climbing rope!" said one student.  "It's a skipping rope!" called another.  And then from the back of the room a voice called out something truly unexpected.  "It's a shoelace!"

(c) Ruth Ohi, 2013
The Story:  Two So Small Annick Press, 2000. Picture book. Illustrations by Ruth Ohi.

The Writing Tip:  As much as I wanted to laugh at the idea that my long rope might be a shoelace, I knew I couldn't. Laughter might hurt the student's feelings and that is something I never want to do.
       Luckily, my mind began to slip into story mode.  If my rope was a shoelace, then there had to be a very big shoe somewhere.  And if there was a very big shoe, then there had to be a giant.  And if there was a giant just around the corner, then we ALL had a problem. Stories are about problems!  This was a great idea!
Together the students and I began to look at "ordinary" objects around the classroom
     What might the metal waste basket be?
           The giant's drinking cup!
     What might the clock up on the wall be?
          His pocket watch!

Of course the entire story didn't all come together at that moment. It changed and grew over many weeks and months. It took on all kinds of twists and turns. But did it begin that day. And it began because I didn't laugh at a student's unexpected comment. 

Unexpected ideas are often the best ideas of all.

 (c) All Rights Reserved. All blog text(except comments by others) copyright Hazel Hutchins.

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