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Rowling, Malorie Blackman, J.



Tolkien, David Walliams. We all know these names because of their stories.

We get lost in the worlds they create and get to know the characters that inhabit those worlds.

Creating a new world, new characters, and new events to take place may seem like an impossible task, yet we can all be writers.

We can all create thrilling adventures and interesting characters.

And today, we're going to take a first step into becoming writers ourselves.

Hello, everyone.

My name is Mr. Pryke and welcome to this lesson on what makes a good short story.

As you've just heard, we've got lots of exciting things planned today.

So, let's get started.

All you'll need is a pen and paper, or something to write on and with.

And if you can, move yourself away from any distractions.

In our journey to become writers ourselves, we're going to think about our favourite stories and consider why we like them so much.

We're then going to unleash our imaginations by travelling through windows into new worlds and strange settings.

All the while thinking about what we may find there.

You'll have the opportunity to complete what I call 'free writing time' where you can enjoy the freedom of writing what you want to write.

We'll then finish by looking at the form of a short story; considering some of the rules we have to follow when creating our own stories.

We're going to begin by looking at some of our favourite stories and thinking about why they're our favourite.

I have two tasks for you to complete.

First, I would like you to mind map all of your favourite stories.

They may be from a book you have read, a film you've seen, or a game you have played.

When you finish, pick one story and explain why it is your favourite.

Think particularly about how your favourite story makes you feel.

Does your story include any interesting characters, or any moments that keep you on the edge of your seat? Does your favourite story excite you? Does it thrill you? Does it scare you or make you sad? This is what you need to explain.

If you'd like, you can use the sentence starter that you see on your screen.

Pause the video here to complete your task and when you're ready, press play and we'll go through what a good answer looks like.

Now, there's no right answer for the task I've just made you complete.

We all have our favourite stories.

That's the beauty of stories.

What I like may not necessarily be what you like.

But there's always at least one story we can enjoy.

Here are some of my favourites.

I particularly like 'Harry Potter' and 'His Dark Materials'.

I really enjoy fantasy stories where I get to explore strange new worlds that are completely unlike the world we all live in.

I also really like hearing about true stories.

'Apollo 13' for example, is one of my favourite true stories.

'Apollo 13' is the story of a group of astronauts who were supposed to have landed on the moon in 1970.

The craft was launched but the moon landing was cancelled after an oxygen tank failed two days into the mission.

The crew had to loop around the moon instead.

It's all very dramatic but all of the astronauts return safely to Earth.

It's a thrilling story which is why it's one of my favourites.

So, let's review what an answer could look like.

I'm going to use the example of 'His Dark Materials'.

This means my answer will be different from yours as I imagine you've chosen a different story and that's absolutely fine.

An acceptable answer may read, "My favourite story is 'His Dark Materials' because it contains some really interesting characters and some exciting events." A good answer might read, "My favourite story is 'His Dark Materials' because it contains characters that are my age which means I can really relate to them.

It is full of exciting events and dangerous situations that are full of tension.

In particular, I really like the idea that your soul is an animal that walks around beside you.

I like this because.

." And so the answer goes on.

This is a good answer because it talks about specific things that make the story so interesting and exciting.

It talks about things that happen and characters that are unique to that book.

If you've written something which is unique to your story and your answer, give yourself a tick, and very well done.

Now, it's time to find the stories that are lurking in our own imaginations.

Stories are all around us.

In literature, film, games, and even true stories.

Some stories are new, and some have been handed down through generations.

Some stories have something to say about the world around us and others are purely there for our entertainment.

The fact is, stories are everywhere.

The short story is popular because it is one of the oldest forms of entertainment.

Before stories were written down they were told orally, meaning through speech or through song.

Short stories are part of world history.

They have a place in all of our lives.

No matter our culture, or where we're from, or what we believe.

As such, they're extremely important.

Neil Gaiman, the author of 'Coraline', sums it up best when he says "Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner." So, we're now going to go on that journey and hopefully we will be back in time for our dinner.

I really like the idea of short stories being windows into other worlds.

So, let's imagine that we're presented with three windows.

Each one leads to a different destination.

You make your choice and open a window.

Have a think about where you may end up.

Are you going to end up in a different world completely? Has your window led you to a different planet? Has it lead you into the future? Do you now find yourselves amongst the stars, exploring different galaxies and meeting new life-forms? Has your window led you to a place that is recognisable but a place you never thought you'd get to visit? Has it sent you back into the past to a time where humans weren't the dominant life-form on the planet? Or has your window led you to the same world and same time as you live in now, just a different location? Where does your window lead? In a minute, I'm going to ask you to write down a description of what you see when you step through your window into a different place.

Let me show you an example of the type of thing that I'm expecting first.

I'm going to pretend that my window has led me to this strange world that you can see on your screen.

Here, I've written a description of this world which I will now read to you.

So, pay attention because I'm going to be asking you to write a description of your own world in just a second.

Here's my example: "As I stepped through the window, I saw what could only be described as a world belonging in the future.

A spaceship, rusty and old, sat unused in orange sands that stretched far and wide.

This place was deserted; I felt a sharp pang of loneliness overcome as I looked far into the horizon, an endless sea of nothing." Here, I've tried to create a vivid description of what I can see in the picture as if I was actually there.

Look at how I described what I can see and how I feel.

I would like you to do the same.

Here's your free writing time.

Pretend you have stepped through one of the windows, into a different place.

Write a small paragraph describing what you can see and hear and how you feel now you're there.

You can use one of the images I have shown you as inspiration or you can think of an entirely new place to explore.

It's completely up to you.

If you're really stuck, you can add to the example of the futuristic world I've already given you.

Use the sentence starter you can see on your screen if you need to or feel free to ignore it completely and come up with your own.

If you think you're going to find this activity difficult, keep the video playing as I'm about to give you some more advice.

If you're really stuck use this image to help you describe what you can see and hear and how you feel in this futuristic setting.

If you're not sure what to focus on, look at the parts of the picture that I've put into boxes and start there.

You may wish to describe what the spaceship looks like, how old and rusty it is.

You may want to describe the stars, how wide and endless the galaxy looks.

You may even wish to describe the rocks and cliffs that you see around you, or you could focus on the ruins of an old temple that is crumbling in the dust.

It's completely up to you, but if you're stuck the boxes would make a good place to start.

Remember, you're describing what you can see and hear and how you feel.

Pause the video here and press play when you're ready to resume.

Fantastic work.

There are infinite windows we could explore.

Stories that are just waiting to be told.

Before we start writing a complete short story, we need to consider some of their ingredients.

What makes a short story? What are some of the rules that we need to follow? We're going to finish then by looking at the form of a short story.

Stories contain three vital things: characters, setting, and plot.

A character is a person in a novel, play, or film.

A setting is a location; a place where the story occurs.

And plot is the term we use to describe the main events of a story.

These three things have to be included in a story, otherwise there simply wouldn't be one.

Characters, setting, and plot maintain our interest in what the writer is saying.

However, when we talk about short stories, there are rules that we need to follow and guidelines we must abide by.

Pay attention to these rules, because when we finish going through them, we're going to play a quick multiple choice quiz to ensure you have understood them.

Here are the features of a short story: If a story is under 1,000 words, it is usually called 'flash fiction'.

Short stories usually only contain one main character.

There are usually no subplots in a short story.

A subplot is a side story which runs alongside the main story.

It may involve some of the secondary characters instead of the main character, but by the end, the side story and the main story will usually connect.

If, for example, we're talking about 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', the part where Hagrid is given a dragon's egg, which hatches into Norbert is a subplot.

It's not really to do with the main events of the story.

Because short stories have to be kept short, they don't usually contain subplots.

A short story usually only contains one event that can be resolved quickly.

So, let's see how much you can remember about the common features of short stories.

I'm going to ask you three multiple choice questions.

Pause after each question if you need to, and select your answer, and then press play to find out if you were correct.

Question One: How many words does a story have to be to be labelled 'flash fiction'? Option One: Under 1,500.

Option Two: Under 1,300.

Option Three: Under 1,100 Or Option Four: Under 1000 Pause the video here if you need to and make your choice.

Well done.

If you selected Option Four, under 1,000, you'd be correct.

Question Two: How many subplots do short stories usually contain? Option One: Zero.

Option Two: One.

Option Three: Two.

Or Option Four: Three.

Pause the video here and make your choice.

Well done.

If you picked Option One, zero, you'd be correct.

Short stories don't have time to contain subplots.

Question Three; How many main characters do short stories usually contain? Option One: One.

Option Two: Two: Option Three: Three.

Or Option Four: Four.

Pause the video here and make your choice.


If you picked Option One, one character, you'd be correct.

Brilliant work.

So, now we've come to the end of today's lesson.

Today, we looked at our favourite stories.

We then had a go at thinking about the worlds that were lurking in our imagination.

And we finished by talking about the form of a short story and some typical features of them.

We've certainly achieved a lot today.

A huge well done for all of your efforts.

Finally, there are two things I would like you to do: Firstly, don't forget to complete the exit quiz once you've clicked off this video.

Secondly, if you can, ask a parent or carer to take a picture of your work and send it to your teacher so they can see everything you've been doing today.

If you'd like to, you can also ask your parent or carer to share your work on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, tagging @OakNational.

That way, I can see what you've been doing too.

And I'm really interested to see the descriptions that you produced today.

Take care, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.