An Exercise for Creative Writing

dois alunos escrevem na oficina   Imagem: Oficina de Escrita

      Some days ago, a Science Teacher asked on Twitter about the eventual interest of an exercise of creative writing that consists in writing by alternate paragraphs, with our students, or to invite them to do it in pairs. I’ll explain here how I do it, as it became one of my students favourite ways of writing

 I learned to write in this way in the children’s book “Quero ser Escritor” (I want to be a Writer), which offers a wide variety of exercises to enhance creative writing. 

  • First, we create together a very “light” prompt – just the general ideas, to preserve the “effect of surprise” this kind of writing provides.
  •  Than we start writing, but must change our notebooks at regular intervals; usually I wait for students to give me the signal. If both writers are students, we agree upon a certain time interval and I warn them when they must change notebooks.
  • Each co-writer is supposed to read the other’s paragraph and to continue his line of thought.
  • When writing with the teacher, Students may be confronted with a paragraph that is out of their immediate “writing-context”, as it is spontaneously more complex and more elaborated; as they must continue the line of thought expressed in the sentences, the adult’s paragraph operates like a model that usually impels young students to structure their sentences more carefully and to enrich their vocabulary.

 I’ve tried this exercise with short narratives – even at “three hands” – and although they usually turn to be very funny, the writing level remains simpler and the vocabulary tends to show less variety.

    This year, in our school, we are working a global theme concerning values: “To be +”. Its abstract and reflective nature makes it easier to alternate paragraphs by different authors.

    In both ways, there is a special empathy and genuine communication growing between co-writers.