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Image of 'An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump' by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768.
Novelist Sherry Ashworth and play-write Diane Samuels both chose this painting to work with Year 8 pupils from Cumberland School, St. George's RC School and Pimlico School.

After discussing the painting in detail, Sherry Ashworth asked the pupils to choose a particular character that really interested them in the painting, and to write from their point of view. She asked the pupils to write three short paragraphs, one exploring what their character was experiencing, using the five senses, the second looking into the character’s thoughts, and the final paragraph telling the reader what happened next.

Diane Samuels approached the session in a different way, asking the pupils to 'free write'. Here, she defines what this means:
"When I start work on any play, book, article or story I always spend time FREE WRITING to discover the perspective, characters, relationships, events and "find" the way into the heart of the work.

The approach is simple:
*choose an ANCHOR PHRASE, a few words to guide the writing, and start with those.
*remember the aim to KEEP WRITING WITHOUT STOPPING, using the anchor phrase to keep writing no matter what whenever stuck.
*permission to WRITE NONSENSE.
*make no corrections and no crossing out.
*spelling and punctuation rules do not apply.
*no need to think. Let the pen lead and the brain follow.
On and on and on and the writing stutters, splutters, flows, flies, lands, falls, leaps, flows...and on and on and on.

Image of quote from Sherry's story.Click here for Sherry's story.
Image of quote from Diane's story.Click here for Diane's story.
Image of student.Click here for Student Responses.
Image of 'An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump' by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768. Click here for About the Painting.
Other links:
More about Sherry Ashworth
More about Diane Samuels