Tribes author gives budding writers a boost

13 May

T M Alexander at Lower Shaw Family Fun Day, a Swindon Festival of Literature event

Children love stories, and love writing stories to entertain themselves and others. But how do you get primary school aged children thinking about plot and characterisation?

And at the Lower Shaw Family Fun Day, a Swindon Festival of Literature event, T M Alexander – author of the Tribes series, a kind of Famous Five for the new millennium – was on hand to take budding young authors through the creative stages of writing their own story.

Alexander put the rules in place, and it was up to the audience – comprised of children aged aged six and upwards – to fill in the gaps. So the boy and girl characters were christened James and Eva. The boy liked robotics and climbing, and hated spiders. The girl liked vegetables and was good at finding things. She was scared of the dark.

Those character traits were then woven into a story as – with the help of some props from Alexander’s bin – the author and the children took each other on a magical journey into a land within a scrapbook.

They traversed a maze of maize, warded off angry pigs, followed a rabbit down a hole and swam to a giant duck, who floated them to safety on its back.

And perhaps the best lesson was left for last. Once back in the safety of their room, did our heroes find they had daydreamed the whole adventure? No, insisted the author – that’s a terrible way to end a story!

Instead the protagonists were left wondering whether those weird and wonderful events really did happen to them, as they plucked pieces of maize from their clothing.

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