his approach to the masterclasses:
I used the 'scaffolding' method to teach the students
how to transform the image they had seen into a strong,
I stressed two key elements:
Tension - don't give too much away too soon
Show, don't tell - don't list a series of chronological
events. Use description, metaphor and simile to bring
the scene to life. As Stephen King says: "Description
starts in the head of the writer and ends up in the head
of the reader."
I then broke down the lesson into bite-sized pieces, giving
the pupils enough guidance to feel supported and clear
about the aims, but also stepping back so that they could
explore their own take on the experience. We spent about
ten minutes on each paragraph with me giving them teaching
prompts as they wrote.
How did Perseus feel as he approached the doors to the
banqueting hall? What was he carrying? Describe them in
detail? Why was he there? Give the reader a brief clue
to the plot as a kind of flashback but don't tell them
too much. They won't be able to take it all in at once.
What sentence structures will you use? Can you include
a subordinate clause e.g. Heart pounding, he edged towards
the great doors.
Describe Perseus' entrance. What sound did the doors make?
How did the guests react? What about the palace guards?
What was the expression on Perseus face? What did the
sword and Medusa's head feel like in his hand?
This is dialogue. How did Perseus address the crowd? What
do you have to remember about writing dialogue? What punctuation
will you need?
Describe how the guards confronted Perseus. What did Perseus
do? What did it look like, sound like, as the guards were
turned to stone? How did the other guests react? What
happened to the furniture?
Describe how Perseus finally discovered the King. How
did the King move? How did Perseus pursue him? Use flashback
to fill in the details of the plot. Choose a good last
line to keep the reader's interest.
These are some of the skills taught during the workshop:
- a strong opening
- figurative writing
- good description (metaphor, simile, striking choice
- strong verbs
- internal monologue
- show, don't tell
- good vocabulary choices
- a strong ending