Story Maps Are A Very Useful Writing Tool For Kids In Primary School. But Not Much of Use For Teens.
Updated: Jun 14
Many teens at the Young Writers' Club chose to respond to the same writing prompt-
A mysterious door nestled within a dense forest. A used shoe hangs on a side as if it is meant to ward off the evil eye or maybe not. It depends upon you, dear writer to interpret it the way you want. The door itself is old and weathered, with intricate carving and vines crawling up its sides. The surroundings are bathed in a soft, ethereal light, as if something magical lies beyond. What do you see in your imagination?
There are multiple possibilities beyond that door giving each writer the license to experiment with any idea that they like and create a vivid reading experience. Their task was to enable the reader to see every little detail that occurred in their imagination.
Relying completely on imagination sometimes gets you to a point where you hit a wall.
Creative writing sessions often give a structure to follow which can make the writing exercise a little mundane to begin with for some. It is almost like going step by step and that sometimes doesn't particularly work in a creative environment. Sometimes it is difficult to follow a predetermined pattern. You need to think out of the box. Experiment a bit and see how the story sounds when you try something new, off the beaten road.
Many young writers prefer to let their active imagination do its magic and simply write what comes along. While this is clearly enjoyable for the first draft, many a times imagination tends to hit a wall. They feel stuck, having run out of ideas about how to proceed further and keep up the tempo that the introductory part of the story created. They generally want to give up and start writing something new. A structure at this point only helps to the extent of looking in a particular direction for ideas. For instance, there is a rising action stage where multiple events need to take place putting the character(s) in a fix. But what those events can be, the structure or story map ceases to help anymore.
Drawing connections and identifying sources of inspiration could help with writing.
Some teens at the Young Writers' Club found it easier to make connections with what they have read earlier or watched somewhere or heard something about. Once they established this connection, their road ahead seem to pave itself quite naturally. For instance one writer chose to draw inspiration from the famous short story, Faces in The Dark written by Ruskin Bond and wrote his own version to suit this particular prompt. There was only a small part in this teen's response inspired by Ruskin Bond, but that gave him a kickstart and then there was no turning back. He deserves credit for not copying the idea verbatim but giving it his own twist to suit the story that was slowly emerging in his mind. He went on to experiment with feelings experienced when there was a strange light emerging from end of the tunnel. All this played a crucial role in making his response very easy to visualise. He was able to easily fabricate the other elements of the plot, drawing connections with what he has seen, heard or read before.
Another writer chose a slightly different approach. She created a mythical angle to the entire prompt. Being a huge fan of Greek mythology, she wrote about a Greek God visiting this place. She went on to weave a mysterious story written in a somewhat poetic style that ended in the lines of many undisclosed secrets lying on the other side of the door. Her knowledge of Greek mythology helped her include elements that any mythology fan could easily relate to thus making her plot structure clear to her, leaving her to only figure the direction of the story.
It is entirely possible that a writer may get carried away with these connections and completely lose touch with the main storyline in the story. To be able to avoid this, it is important to read a variety of texts, take a step back to analyse the author's approach and any deviations that could slow down a story. Everyone of these observations play an instrumental role when one sits down to write. Reading and writing skills go hand in hand.
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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-12 age group, the Young Writers' Club program for the 13-15 age group offers a weekly platform to read and discuss curated articles from the news, observe writing approaches and practise one's writing skills.
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