Ask students to write their mini saga, ensuring their name, surname and age are included on the entry form.
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Young Writers SS
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Once students have an idea for their Spine-Chiller, ask them to write the synopsis of the story in just two sentences. Can they strip away their ideas to the bare bones? Can they extract the very essence of their mini saga?
Once they have their 2 sentences, students can then think about how to use atmosphere, tension and suspense to create their mini saga. Feedback tells us it's easier to build the story up than edit it down to 100 words.
In our opinion one of the greatest spine-chillers ever written is 'The Tale-Tell Heart' by Edgar Allen Poe. Having a fantastic example really helps set the bar for students to work towards.
Play this video of the story to students.
Next, as a class discuss the story. Can students identify where atmosphere, tension and suspense are used?
The last paragraph is almost a spine-chilling mini saga on its own! Suggest students consider the use of paranoia, guilt and fear in their writing to help create suspense, atmosphere and tension.
Ask students to write their ending of their story first. Can they write a couple of sentences that have an interesting ending, but in a twist the ending is the beginning of the spine-chilling mini saga! Students then can write the back story as a flashback or using a narrator to fill in what event led to this dramatic tension-filled ending.
This technique helps remove the stumbling block of writers' block as the ending is written and that can be the hardest part!
Download our Complimentary Presentation (available in both PowerPoint and PDF versions) and discuss the types of narrator with students:
Why not try extreme constrained writing!
Provide students with a spine-chilling scenario. This could be a scene from a book being studied, from an image, a headline etc
Now ask them to write their story plot in ten words! Ask them to bear in mind their mini saga requires tension, atmosphere and suspense.
E.g. Woman is offered trial to prove her innocence in Salem.
Students now build on their story plot to create their mini saga...
They said that I had cast spells on the children, which made them say and do bewitched things. I did no such thing. I have better things to do than enchant wretched children. I begged the Governor, pleaded, protested my innocence as I was arrested. He said I'd get a trial, which would prove my innocence or condone my spirit to Hell. I had no chance of freedom again and he knew it. I wasn't scared as I walked to the gallows. Just the opposite. It wasn't a prayer I muttered under my breath as I dropped to my death...
Feedback tells us building a story up is easier than editing it down. We hope your students find this tip useful.
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