Lesson video

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When we read a story, it's the opening that hooks us in and helps us decide if this is a story that we want to continue or not.

But, actually, it's meeting the characters that really help us decide if we like a story and enjoy it.

So when you pick a story, what kind of characters do you want? Do you want somebody who's like you, maybe they're your age, maybe they're at school like you.

Or do you pick a character that's completely different to you? Do you want a character who lives in the same country as you, or do you want someone on the other side of the world that has completely different life? Maybe you want an exciting character who's living a life that you could only dream of on massive adventures.

Or maybe you want a character who's living a life with friends and with family just like yours.

We all want different things out of our characters.

And that's fine.

Today you'll get the chance to build your own character and put them into the fantasy story that we're writing.

Really, really looking forward to it.

Let's get going.

Hello, welcome back to grammar with me, Ms. Richards.

It's lovely to have you back.

As you just heard, we're going to be creating our characters today, which is really exciting.

Last lesson you write an opening and now we get to put a hero into our story.

I can't wait to share my hero with you and for you to get a chance to create your own.

Before we can start though, you know, the drill, make sure you've got a pen and some paper.

For this unit it's really useful, if you can, to get the bit of the story that you've already written so that you have the full story with you.

It might just be that it's sort of in the same notebook, or you might have it on a separate piece of paper.

That's so that you can read back and join everything together.

So make sure you've got a pen and some paper to write on for today's lesson, the start of your story If you've got it with you and try and go somewhere nice and quiet, switch any notifications off on your devices so you're not distracted.

Pause the video if you need to get yourself sorted and let's get ready to go.

Today's lesson, then we're going to start with nouns and pronouns.

Hopefully this is a real recap for you and something that you're really confident and familiar with.

If not, don't worry.

We're going to take that knowledge and move it into something called noun phrases.

You might not have heard of the term noun phrases, but I'm pretty sure that when we do them, you'll know exactly what they are already.

Then you'll get to create your character and then have a turn at putting them into your own writing.

As always, we have a quiz to finish.

This idea of nouns and pronouns then, hopefully they're already familiar words to you.

Nouns then.

I'm going to start with an example, really, really simple sentence.

The dog barked at the postman.

The nouns in the sentence are dog and postman.

You probably pick that out already.

Nouns are the objects or the naming words.

If we look at this example, the cup was left beside the sink.

Cup and sink are our nouns.

Really, really easy, really straightforward.

They're the things being named.

Longer sentence here, but just as easy.

The student needed to complete his homework before watching the film.

Our nouns, the student, homework and film.

So student is a noun, homework is a noun and film is a noun.

They're items or objects or things that are being named.

So I didn't include this word, his.

You might have picked it out when you looked at that sentence.

You'd be correct, but we're going to come back to his because it's a different type of noun.

Really quick, simple task for you then.

Please, I'd like you to pause the video and identify all of the words on the screen that announce.

Press play when you're ready.

You got it, right? Fox, car, statue and pizza are all nouns that name something.

Really simple, really straightforward, all information that you knew already.

Let's come back to this example then.

The student needed to complete his homework before watching the film and that word his.

His is a pronoun.

Something that you may have already known.

You might have been shouting at the screen.

Pronouns are words that can be used instead of a noun in a sentence to avoid repeating yourself.

So they replaced the noun in the sentence so that you don't end up using the same noun over and over again.

We can have he, his, she, her, they, their, if you're talking about a person or people.

Or you can use it and its for talking about an object.

So if I take this example here, then I've got two sentences.

Jake watched TV.

Jake ate popcorn.

But this causes us to repeat the proper noun, Jake, the person's name.

So what we'll do is we'll take the repeated word, the second one, and we'll replace it with the pronoun he.

If I then have this one, the police car sped along the road, the police car had sirens on.

I'm repeating the noun police car there.

I've got it consecutively in the sentences.

So we'll take the second one, the one that's repeated and we'll change it to it.

The police car sped along the road, it had sirens on.

Another example then, the bus pulled up to the stop.

The man ran along the street, waving at the bus.

The bus pulled away without the man.

We've got the bus and the man repeated quite a bit at this point.

So what I can do is add in some pronouns to replace those nouns.

So this is what it would now sound like.

The bus pulled up to the stop.

The man ran along the street waving at it, so that I'm not repeating the bus again.

The bus pulled away without him.

Now you'll notice I haven't used it pulled away without him.

That's because otherwise I'd have, the man run along the street waving at it.

It pulled away without him.

And then I'm repeating it twice.

So we tend to alternate between pronoun and then the noun itself.

Here's my rule then.

If the next sentence uses the same subject, you should use a pronoun to replace it.

Nice and easy.

Your turn then.

What I'd like you to do is to fill in each blank with one of the pronouns, he, she, it, or they.

Pause the video now to complete this task.

Here we go then.

Let's look at some answers.

If you've got another colour, you can grab it to tip or just use your normal pen.

Laura and Catherine walked along the street.

They stopped to get a drink.

Laura dropped her drink on the floor.

It splashed over her new shoes.

She was sad.

Catherine suggested they get cake instead.

Nice and easy.

Hopefully you got that.

All right.

Give yourself lots of ticks.

How is this relevant then to our story writing? Well, particularly because we're creating characters, we're going to have to make decisions, whether we use nouns, whether we use the proper nouns and put their names in, or whether we use pronouns and replace some of the nouns.

So if I take this example, the knight put on her armour ready for her quest.

I've got the pronouns her so I don't have to keep repeating the knight.

Otherwise I'd end up with, the knight put on the knight's armour ready for the knight's quest.

Just gets a little bit repetitive.

Using the pronouns just keeps it nice and simple.

At the start, I told you we were also going to look at something called noun phrases.

This might be something new, something you've not come across.

Not sure.

They're really, really straightforward though.

And they're a great way of adding extra detail about characters.

Let's find out what they are.

A noun phrase is a group of words that are detailed to the noun.

So your subject or your object in sentence, it's the way we give more information and create more detail.

If I have this example, the dog slept on a rug.

Again, we just use nice, simple, straightforward examples when we're explaining things.

I can say, the peaceful brown dog slept on a rug.

So the peaceful brown dog is a noun phrase.

It's the group of words that are adding more detail to our subject, the dog.

I can add more information to our object as well by saying that the peaceful brown dog slept on a small tatty rug.

You don't really need to know that these are called noun phrases.

You might do it automatic and just add detail to your writing and be really specific about describing things.

That's fine.

The terminology is less important than actually just being able to do it, but let's look at a few more examples then.

If I had the boy ate popcorn, I could describe him as an excited young boy.

And I could describe the popcorn as deliciously sweet.

So my sentence becomes, the excited young boy ate deliciously sweet popcorn.

Now I've used noun phrases in the subject and the object to expand on my sentence and give lots of nice detail.

And it starts to build an idea of a character too, because we now find out the details that he's young and he's obviously in quite a good mood as well if he's excited.

We know that we're writing a fantasy story.

So let's go back to our earlier fantasy example.

The knight put on her armour ready for her quest.

And we're going to add some information into our noun phrases.

So here are our noun phrases, the knight, her armour, her quest.

They are the three nouns we have in this sentence.

And I'm going to turn it into this.

The trembling knight put on her brand new armour ready for her first quest.

Maybe you write like that already, which is fantastic.

But the reason that we're looking at this is because we can start to find some clues about characters.

Actually, by describing the knight as trembling, by saying that it's brand new armour and she's ready for her first quest.

All of this tells me that she's nervous and inexperienced.

Trembling shows nerves, brand new suggest that she's never worn it before.

And then we get the fact that it's a first quest as well.

So now we build lots of information about our character.

Here's another example then from the romance genre.

The prince handed the princess a rose.

We can add in that extra detail to make noun phrases.

The handsome prince handed the beautiful princess a bright red rose.

Again, nice and easy.

There are no complicated words or phrases in here.

There's nothing that you probably don't do already yourself, but we're just thinking how these add details about our characters or the objects that they're using.

Here's one from the gothic genre then.

The doll sat on top of the box.

That might be a bit spooky if you're already picturing a doll in your head and thinking how creepy they can be.

But actually by adding detail to our noun phrases, we can make this really spooky and gothic.

The sinister China doll sat on top of the old music box.

Just those extra details of it being a sinister China doll and it's an old music box we're almost expecting the music box to start playing some ominous spooky tune, aren't we? Here's the exciting bit then.

You are going to plan your own character for the fantasy story that we are writing.

So we know that although there are lots of differences in all the stories that we're writing, there are some things that are the same and our story order is one of those things.

So last lesson we opened and we set the scene.

And this lesson we're going to introduce our hero.

First though, we need to plan some information about our hero.

In a fantasy story, your hero is entirely up to you.

There are some expected and cliched heroes like princes, knights, soldiers, princesses, warlocks, witches, but you can always do an unexpected hero as well.

Somebody who isn't traditionally the hero of a fantasy story.

Remember though, they will be going on a big journey and they will be going on a quest.

So it's got to be a character that can do that, or has something about them that can do that.

Here's what we're going to do then.

I'm not very good at drawing.

I've done a stick man.

Around the edge of the stick man we're going to mind map all of our ideas about our character.

If you are sat here right now, thinking you've got a brilliant idea.

When you were writing your opening, you knew exactly who your character was, fantastic! What I'm going to say is in a minute, I'm going to disappear and then you can pause the video and you can start designing your character.

If you're really artistic and creative, feel free to do a brilliant drawing.

Make it absolutely beautiful.

If you're like me, stick man is totally fine.

I think it's great.

The drawing isn't the important bit though.

What is important is around the edge of your drawing, the thing in the middle, it might even just be a character name, is that you start to come up with lots of ideas and information about your character.

Who are they, how old they are, any defining features that they have, any magical talent or skills.

Okay, if you've got a fantastic idea, when I disappear you are going to pause the video and get on with it.

If you're not sure, don't worry because I'll talk you through some different ideas and things that you can put in place.

Okay, if you're ready to go pause the video now and get started.

If you're not sure, let's think about a few things that's really important to design a character.

Our characters need a name.

That's entirely up to you.

You can pick any name.

It might be your own name.

It might be the name of somebody that you know, or it might be a name of a TV character, or a made-up name, a name that you really love.

You want to think about how old your character is.

Are they your age? Are they much older? It's entirely up to you.

It's probably not worth doing a very young child, sort of one or two years old because they might struggle going on a quest.

Equally a 98, 99, 100-year-old person, they might struggle when it comes to a quest as well.

If you want to do somebody who's much older, that's fine.

But you are going to have to think about those character limitations.

If you've come back to the video 'cause you've already designed your character, fantastic.

Well done.

Have a look at these details and see if there's anything else you can add.

What type of character are you creating? Are you doing a witch, a warlock, a prince, a princess, a soldier? What kind of fantasy character is it? Now, if these details are creating a character in your head at any point, just pause the video and get on with designing your character.

Just can be a stick man, that's fine, but adding in all of those details.

it's worth making sure in the fantasy genre that your character has some kind of skill or magical object that helps them, or maybe that they're searching for.

If that's helped you, that's given you an idea, pause the video, get going.

Or if you're coming back to the video and you realise that you haven't included that detail, you can add it in.

In the fantasy genre, we often hear a little bit about the character's families.

Are they an orphan or do they come from a famous family? Do they have lots of brothers and sisters? Do they live near their family or have they moved far away? You can include character details to get a real sense of who your character is.

And it's also worth thinking whether they have any friends or enemies.

Are they somebody who everyone likes or not? Now's the time to pause the video again.

If you've already designed your character and you've come back to the video, brilliant, just check you've included all these details.

See if there's anything else you can add.

And if you needed these prompts, that's actually fine too.

Now pause the video to create your character.

I wanted to share my character with you.

'Cause like I said, I'm going to be writing alongside you.

So this is going to be the plan for my character.

My character is called Clover.

She's 12 years old and she's applying to knight school.

So she's not yet a knight, but she's applying to be.

And she's quite scared about that.

She doesn't have any sort of skill or magical ability that makes her stand out yet.

The rest of her family are really talented, famous knights.

So Clovis feeling a little bit of pressure to be as good as they are.

I decided that Clover is going to prefer animals to people.

Now that might be quite an important detail later in my story, you'll find out.

And I've decided that Clover doesn't really like her older brother, either.

That just builds up a little bit more character information about her.

And I think she's a bit like me in preferring animals as well.

If you aren't sure on some details for your character, you're welcome to pause the video now and use my character of Clover.

That's absolutely fine.

Here's the exciting time, our free writing time.

What's going to happen is I'll talk you through the next bit.

I'll talk you through what you're going to do for free writing.

And then you'll be able to pause the free writing slide so that you have an opportunity to write.

As always, if you struggle with a little bit of writing, don't worry because I'll be giving you lots of help and suggestions.

You don't have to follow them, but they're just there if you're not sure.

As always then, we're all starting with the same image prompt.

And this is the image prompt for this lesson.

You might be a little bit confused by this because we're introducing a hero and a character and I haven't given you a picture of a person.

That's because we're all creating different heroes.

If I gave you an image prompt of a hero, it might not fit the hero you've created.

But we can all be introduced to our hero inside a building.

As always with these pictures, you've got complete flexibility.

I've given you table and chairs.

Now that can be a table and chairs anywhere.

It could be an office.

It could be in a castle, in one of the village houses.

You can adapt and adjust what's on the table.

That's entirely up to you.

This is just a starting point to give us all the same ideas.

So you might want to think about whether your character has already sat inside the room, whether they walk into the room.

Does the character join the reader in the room because you've been describing the room and the character walks in or does the reader enter the room where the character already is? It's a really great way of introducing your person.

Here you go then.

This is our instruction slide.

As always, you're going to write at least one paragraph, one is the minimum.

If that's what you're happy doing, that's fine.

If you love writing, you can absolutely do more than one paragraph.

And this section is all on introducing your character.

I don't want any mention of their quest yet.

Any mention of what big adventure is going to happen in your story.

We just want the character details.

You might want to hint at some magic or some fantasy.

So maybe there's something really magical going on in the room like things are moving or floating or pots are stirring themselves.

Maybe there's an unusual animal or creature in the room, a wand or a broomstick.

That's up to you.

Maybe our character is doing a spell.

The thing that is really important because we are practising our creative writing is that you think about the pronouns and the interesting noun phrases to add details.

Think about the ways you're going to really describe this character and bring them to life, to add lots of detail.

If you know what you want to write, now's the time to pause the video and get on with it.

If you're not sure, don't worry.

Let's go through a few different things that we can write about and some different sentence starters to get you going.

If you're not sure, go back to your plan.

That's why we plan.

And we can write sentences about each of these details, which will create a paragraph on our character.

So I might start by saying in the village lived a blank called blank.

So in my case, in the village lived a young girl called Clover who wanted to be a knight.

You could put in the village lived a witch called whoever or lived a warlock or a king.

So you can add in different details.

If that sentence starter was enough for you to get going about your character, pause the video and start.

You don't have to wait for me.

If you've done that sentence and you're not sure where to go, that's fine.

We can keep going through.

You could then move on to include the family details.

So in your plan, you've got these family details already and you might start your sentence with, they came from a long line of.

So they came from a long line of royalty.

They came from a long line of wizards or maybe they came from a long line of ordinary people.

And then you could include, so somebody famous in their line or somebody who was a bit silly and you could give us a little bit of character history.

If that sentence has helped you write about your character and you don't need me anymore, just pause, get going.

That's fine.

If you're still unsure, then the next sentence we could add in is talking about their age.

So I told you that my character is just 12 years old.

So I'd write Clover was just 12 years old.

Now, if you've made an older character, you might want to remove the word just, and you might want to put in another word that better fits your character.

We made a decision whether our character had an amazing skill or a magical object that helped them.

So you could add in that detail to describe them too.

For mine, Clover had not shown talent for being a knight or had not shown extreme bravery.

That might be different.

Your character might be the most talented person there is.

So include that detail.

If you've come back to the video at any point now, and you've already written your creative piece, well done.

Maybe go back to your plan and just think, did I include all the information that I'd planned to? Are there any character details I want to put back in? And the last thing we planned for is whether they had any friends or enemies.

So you could write a sentence on that too.

You don't have to use all of these sentences.

You don't have to use any of them, but if they help you, that's absolutely fine.

Pause the video to complete your writing.

Okay, hopefully you've got some ideas about your character down on page, but what I want you to do now is to think about the pronouns and interesting noun phrases, add detail.

Have you already used them or do you now need to go back and edit your work? If you do pause the video, look back.

Story writing takes many levels.

We have to keep going back.

We never get it perfect first time.

If you think you've done that, the next thing then, although, I gave you some sentence starters they weren't linked to this room.

So if you haven't, you now me to work out how you're going to put the character in the room.

Are they going to walk in and then your sentence will start? Or are they going to already be sitting at a chair in the room? What room are they in? So you can now add in at least a one sentence before all the information about your character that we wrote together to put them into this room so it links to this picture.

If you've done your writing without any support from me, fantastic.

Just check that you've done these things as well.

Okay, here are our checks then.

You should have written at least one paragraph.

You should have introduced us to your character, but not mentioned their question yet.

You should have hinted at magic and fantasy and you should have thought about pronouns and interesting noun phrases or details to add.

Pause it again now to do all your checks and give yourself ticks for doing each of those things.

Then I'm going to share my character introduction with you.

So whilst you were writing your story, I was writing mine as well.

I've already given you a few clues and hints throughout about who my character is.

You know, she's called Clover.

You know, she's 12 years old and she's from a famous family of knights.

I'm going to share with you my story now.

You remember last time that we'd opened with a village called El Mondale and it was surrounded by mountains and there was a lake nearby and this village was a little bit different because there was a school there.

And that school was training knights.

As I read my story, I want you to make yourself nice and comfortable and just imagine this character.

I wonder if she looks the same in your head as she looked in my head, when I was writing her.

I'm going to disappear now do I don't distract you in this corner.

I hope you enjoy.

Let us pause for a moment and move to a nice cosy home, right next door to Mondale School for Knights.

From the outside, it was just like every other house.

Inside, however, there was some very special occupants.

Take a moment.

Who can you see? The pair of brothers sat at the dining table, squabbling over the armour polish as they try and out do each other on the shine of their helmets.

Perhaps your focus is caught on the tall and strong looking man who has sat the head of the table, poring over maps with his wife parked next to him.

That's Chief Barter.

He's the chief of Al Mondale.

His wife, Professor Barter, is the head teacher of Mondale School for Knights.

There are no goings on in this town that they don't know about.

The last occupant in the room who might have caught your attention is the small, wiry, little girl curled up in the armchair in the corner, eyes pouring over her book.

You might have to look closely though.

She's very small for her age.

She looks even smaller at the moment, tucked up delicately in the chair, especially if you compare her to the brute size of her brothers.

That's Clover.

She's just 12 years old.

Later this year she'll apply for Mondale School for Knights.

You have to be 13 to start training, although she's been practising and learning everything she possibly can.

In fact, the book she's reading now, it's the "Chivalric Code for Knights." It's a pledge or a promise that every new knight takes when they start at Mondale.

The chivalric code covers all the rules and promises a knight will make about how they live their life.

It's a promise to live an honest life without lying or cheating.

It's a promise to your town and the other knights to support them.

Most importantly, it's a promised to defend, not attack.

That's the number one rule of being a knight.

They are there to defend others and protect them.

Clover is determined to know every word in it, as she's serious about making this promise, she's serious about getting into Mondale too.

Everyone assumes that the place is automatically hers because of who her mother and father are.

When your mum's the head teacher, it's a little bit awkward if you don't get in.

But Clover knows she'll get no special treatment.

She has to study, practise and pass the entrance exam just like every other student.

Part of that exam is knowing your chivalric code in full.

If she's honest though, Clover's a little bit nervous.

She knows she's working hard to prepare and she's been practising with her training sword since she got it for her ninth birthday.

You're not allowed a real sword until you turn 13.

It's just that Clover hasn't shown any real talent for being a knight.

Not yet, anyway.

By the time they were 12, both her brothers had proven themselves to be strong and capable and brave.

They won every practise fight they entered and they were great at strategizing.

They knew when their opponent would duck left or swing their sword over their arm.

It meant her brothers could anticipate every move and win every time.

Clover tries.

She really does.

It's just how do you predict what moves someone else is going to make? Her brothers frustrate her.

They're just so good at being knights.

They've passed every exam first time.

And they're always the top of the class.

They're exactly what you'd expect of the chief and head teacher's children.

They're big shoes to fill.

Well, big armour to fill.

And Clover's just a little bit scared that she's never going to be quite good enough.

What do you think then? Is Clover what you imagined? A wanna-be knight, but she's a bit scared and a bit nervous.

Do you feel a bit sorry for her? I know I do at the moment.

So I wonder if you can guess what's going to happen.

The next bit of our story that we write is a problem.

I wonder if you know what problem Clover is going to face.

I hope you've enjoyed.

I hope you're really enjoying writing your story and you've got lots of ideas for what you want to happen next.

As always though, there's one more thing that we need to do before we can rush into anything else.

Don't forget now to go and do your quiz and I will see you next lesson.