“Your story is too short!”
“Do not touch and go!”
Have you ever seen any of the above comments in your child’s written composition in school? Are you struggling to help your child do well for his English composition? Is your child’s Paper 1 marks pulling down his overall English grade? If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then keep on reading!
In primary school, students are taught the most basic structure for English composition. Introduction, Problem, Resolution and Conclusion. However, do you know that the structure for a well written story is actually a lot more specific than those four parts?
In order for your child to write a composition that would impress the reader, your child has to first learn to break up the four major parts into smaller, more detailed sub-parts.
Here at Writer’s Guild, we use an (A)bsolutely (F)oolproof (L)aw to help the students write a good composition.
Every well written composition always starts with a clear thinking process. With every paragraph, your child should absolutely be able to ask himself a set of questions, according to the paragraph that he/she is working on. The answer is what’s written in his story.
For example, most children’s biggest issue is not knowing how to even start. Once they are able to get their introduction down, these children are able to pick up momentum and are usually a lot more confident to continue their story afterwards. Therefore, in order to help the kids get their engines running, you must teach them the sub-parts for introduction. Under introduction, the sub-parts would be Where, When, Who and What. The questions that your child has to ask himself would be:
The moment your child is able to ask and answer these set of questions himself, he would have already easily covered majority of his introduction paragraph.
But wait! Do you know that the introduction paragraph should not stop there? Your child’s introduction paragraph should end with something that intrigue’s the interest of the reader to read the second paragraph.
Here, at Writer’s Guild, we call it the “Hook”. The hook is a sentence that can be used in almost every introduction as the last part of the paragraph. The addition of a ‘hook’ helps to elevate your child’s story and bring it forward, effectively also making it easier for your child to continue his story.
A few examples of a hook would be:
In turn, these hooks make the reader question, why was there a scream? Who tapped my shoulder? What caught my eye? And of course, with every question asked, we expect an answer. And when we want to know the answer, we continue reading. That, is one of the most important difference between a mediocre composition and a well-written one. A well-written composition will always make the readers want to continue reading to know, what happens next?
The one thing that differentiates living things from non-living things is that we have feelings. Even fools have feelings right? Therefore, when your child’s composition talks about the things that happened but without any mention of feelings, it makes their story feel detached and inanimate.
Tying in nicely with tip #1, your child should always ask himself with every paragraph - how did you feel?
How did you feel when you saw that wallet lying on the floor?
How did you feel when you caught your best friend cheating in an exam?
How did you feel when you found out that you had failed your test?
Compare the following sentences:
Immediately, you can see how much more impressive (B) is as compared to (A).
On top of that, it is also necessary to note and understand that the character’s feelings should not stay constant throughout the entire story. That is highly unrealistic and implausible. There has to be an array of emotion in order to keep the story interesting.
To strengthen my point, here is an example. Let’s say the story is about the main character who failed his test.
He could start his story with him feeling excited, believing that he probably did well for his test. That excitement would then turn into shock when he finally got back his paper and realised that he had failed the test. Once he got over his shock, the feeling of disappointment would then fill him up and then he would feel scared knowing that his mother was going to scold him because of his bad grade.
One final thing that you need to understand why tip #2 is so important is because the addition of feelings kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it elevate your child’s story, but it also automatically makes the composition longer, which effectively helps your child to avoid the “Your story is too short!” comment from the marker.
Now, your child succeeded in writing a good introduction and he even added feelings in his whole story. How do you then ensure that the story ends with a bang?
The answer would be through the use of a lesson learnt. The law behind the addition of a lesson learnt is to impress the marker as it would show that your child knows exactly what is the moral or message behind his written story that he would like to convey. It shows that your child is not writing his composition just for the ‘sake of writing’.
Every lesson learnt may come with a saying that is somehow related to the lesson learnt of that story. These sayings can come in the form of an idiom, proverb or quote.
These are a few examples to give you an idea of what is meant by the above!
“Once bitten, twice shy. I learnt a valuable lesson to pay attention to my surroundings when I’m crossing the road.”
“Honesty is the best policy. I learnt a valuable lesson that it is better to lose with honesty than win with a lie.”
“Money is the root of all evils. I learnt a valuable lesson that no friendship is worth sacrificing just for a bit of cash.”
However, just adding the saying in is not enough! Your child has to ensure that the saying used is linked to the lesson learnt!
Overall, while these three tips are there to help turn your child’s story from a ‘writing grim’ to a ‘writing god’, it is important to note that there will always be room for improvement when it comes to writing. Keep practicing and find the love to write. Good luck! ☺