Monday, November 11, 2013

Writer's Workshop: Thinking about setting

In Writer's Workshop today, we focused on setting, and how it can influence a story.

We started out with some characters in need of settings.

We brainstormed some scenes where these characters might reasonably be found. 

Our cowboy was placed in a saloon, our mermaid on the ocean floor, and our robot was stationed on Mars. 

Details suggested for our saloon: A desert outside, a table with a drink on it, a bartender, a chandelier, and a bar fight in progress (this might be a good time to mention that these were 100% student suggested). 
Details suggested for our mermaid's world: An octopus, a dolphin (with two fins, as I got the placement of the first one wrong), a crab, some fish, an old can, and a treasure chest. 

Our robot was placed on the surface of Mars, complete with dormant volcanos, a gleaming rocket ship, a broken time machine, and a hovering alien. 

After we created rich environments for these characters, the kids spent some time coming up with stories inspired by their settings. 

After sharing our ideas, I threw a curveball: We shuffled each character from the setting that we created for them, and placed them into an unexpected scenario: 

Our cowboy suddenly finds himself on the surface of Mars. 

Our robot wanders a busy sea floor. 

A Snowy Egret wanders into a chaotic saloon. 
Our mermaid finds a way to beat a traffic jam. 

Inspired by these improbable scenarios, students were tasked with coming up with stories that made some kind of internal sense. After some writing time, I asked for volunteers to read what they had come up with: 

(This is one of my favorite sights as a teacher.) 

Everyone is working on a draft of a story that features at least one of our settings, and at least one of our characters. They are, as you might imagine, wildly imaginative. 

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