What makes a story unforgettable and enthralling? What effective writing skills can help your child write a dynamic story that stands out from the rest? The best writers are able to paint a picture using their words. To help your child write captivating compositions, here are three pointers that they should be incorporating into their writing:
1.Always abide by the golden rule of Show-not-Tell
The first effective writing skill is one that is preached relentlessly in any writing class- show, not tell! Good writers do not simply state what the character is experiencing, but paint a vivid picture of it through their narrative. This skill is indispensable when portraying the emotions of characters.
Unfortunately, trying to show-not-tell is more easily said than done. Students are often perplexed when they are instructed to do so in their compositions. To guide students on how to apply Show-not-Tell into their compositions, we at Write Edge have broken the process down into three simple steps that any student can grasp effortlessly. These three steps are named Do-Look-Say!
Students should begin by asking themselves the following questions: what would my character do when they are feeling a certain way? What actions would they undertake? Let us look at how esteemed novelists make use of this skill in their stories! In the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the main character, Pip, suffers through a mortifying ordeal. Reacting to this incident, he is described to have “[gotten] rid of [his] injured feelings…by kicking them into the brewery wall, and twisting them out of [his] hair”. Here, instead of simply stating that Pip felt humiliated, Dickens shows us what Pip did to vent his frustrations- by kicking a wall and tugging at his hair. Likewise, in our classes, students are prompted to ruminate on how they could articulate their characters’ emotions through describing their actions. What would cause a character to bounce up and down, to stare at their feet, or to bury their head in their hands?
Needless to say, describing body language is but the first component to showing and not telling. Write Edge students are also taught how to depict their characters’ facial expression (look) and tone of speech (say). These three elements are the fundamental step to writing stories that come alive.
2.Make your characters memorable through vivid character descriptions
What makes James Bond such an enduring fictional character? How did Sherlock Holmes manage to inspire more than 250 different screen adaptations?
The answer lies in their striking characterisation! These characters have been so expertly constructed by their authors that their physical traits, demeanor and personality have become etched in our cultural consciousness. Vivid, compelling characters draw us into the story and make us root for them. We want to know what happens next in the story because we care about the characters. Furthermore, well-written characters give us an insight into how they would impact the storyline and drive the story forward.
To write a composition that scores well in exams, students should insert vivid character descriptions into their stories. Our writing classes help students envision compelling characters and pen down their thoughts creatively through engaging with their five senses. Imagine meeting a person for the first time. What does the character look like? What are they wearing? What do they smell like? How do they walk and speak, and how do their mannerisms reflect their personality?
3.Transport the readers into the world of imagination with a powerful setting description
Does the composition take place in a mundane, dreary classroom, or between the oak shelves of a distinguished library?
Is the main character astounded by the dignified presence of the majestic Taj Mahal, or floating aimlessly through the barren frontiers of outer space?
Setting is the time and space where the story takes place. The environment of the scenario depicted in the story influences development of the plot as well as the emotions of the characters. A character stuck in a packed train cabin during peak hour may feel antsy and irritated. How would their frustration be displayed on their face and the way they carry themselves? What potential conflict can arise in this cramped space, where people are breathing in each other’s air? Regardless of the setting, a well-developed setting description is able to evoke a vivid mental image of the place in the reader’s mind’s eye.
At Write Edge, our classes and curriculum are designed to help students hone effective writing skills to create setting descriptions that immerse readers into the story. Similar to character descriptions, engaging with the five senses is paramount when illustrating a setting through words. What does the character see, hear, smell, touch or even taste in that environment?
To assist students with tackling these writing steps, our classes also help students improve on their vocabulary mastery so that they can write with vibrant descriptions. Find out more about our creative writing curriculum here.