One way to help children improve their writing is to write in different genres. I learned to write short stories in Junior High and High School. I learned how to write radio and television scripts as well as commercials in a technical school. I continued to learn how to write visually, including comics through taking courses, reading and writing.
When I started teaching Creative Writing as an artist in the classrooms in Canada, I used short story, and art through the creation of Story Cloths, stories drawn onto cloth in panels. One could argue that was the creation of my earliest comic panels.
It wasn’t until last year that I began teaching children how to write a play from their short story, or how to turn their comic into a play. Creating play and comic script templates for them really helped them have structure, but mostly it was through reading scripts and stories and then writing their own with my direction and feedback that helped them to learn how to write from one genre to another. Sharing their stories with their peers encouraged them to write more stories, whether it was to improve upon their writing because of the feedback they were getting, or because they and their friends were enjoying reading what they wrote so much.
Genre to genre writing is a process of self discovery for the writer, young or old. You learn about your story, about your characters. Writing in a different genres can give you a fresh perspective on your story. It can create momentum for the story to be completed, and it can be a lot of fun.
Three of my students collaborated on a series of stories around a character they invented called Epic Man. The character was funny and well-developed. They had an easier time drawing out the story in comic panels. I had to encourage them to transcribe the story into a play, and helped them with the process. They created a Reader’s Theater script out of it, and have continued to write sequels in their spare time.
Genre to Genre Story Challenge:
Whatever genre you normally write in, say short story, try a different genre. Perhaps writing a theater play script would be easy. Start with a short story and script it out in a play. There are plenty of examples of folktales turned into Reader’s Theater Plays. Here’s a link for ideas: http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE.html. Lastly, take your theater script and draw four comic panels complete with word bubbles. Here is a link for free comic panel templates: https://www.printablepaper.net/category/comics.
And above all have fun!
Copyright © 2018, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.