This morning my sons and I used Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School as a jumping-off point for our weekly writing session. We have been reading the book before bed and all loving the unexpected, topsy-turvy world that Sachar has created – thirty short stories from the thirtieth storey of Wayside School.
Here are the Story Starters we used...
1) Hot chocolate and marshmallows are a good way to warm up for any writing session.
2) We did five minutes of 'Anything Goes'. Start writing and keep going flat out for five minutes, even if you don't know what the next word will be off your pencil. It's a great way to throw self-consciousness and perfectionism out the window.
3) I gave the boys an eleven-question character breakdown and ten minutes to create a character who might go to Wayside School. (Each chapter in the book is about a different student in Mrs Jewls's class on the thirtieth storey.
4) Once the characters were created (a class clown named Tony who gets in trouble for throwing a banana in a food fight, and a kid called 'Funky Monkey' who is in love with his teacher, but his teacher despises him) they wrote a story each about that character. Ten minutes, flat out, no speaking. And go.
5) Next, we had a fifteen-minute soccer game and I read them a short story from the book I'm writing, My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong. We pulled it apart and decided that the twist at the very end needed work.
6) Finally, they were asked to spend five minutes building a Lego character from their millions of mini-figure parts and to write a ten-minute story about that character showing up at Sideways School.
Next week, we'll go over all the stories we've started since January, choose one, finish it and start rewriting.
For more Story Starters click here. (Don't forget to pick up a copy of Sachar's Sideways Stories, recommended to me by kidlit guru, Mike Shuttleworth.)