Recently I ran a fun, yet challenging activity at my local writer's group. The activity required us to change one thing about our character (from whatever we were currently working on), and then rewrite one scene accordingly.
This activity was based off an assignment in Module 1 of the Writing Picture Book course that I recently finished through the Australian Writers' Centre. For the course, I wrote out 200 words of Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson. I then changed Ruby Red and the rest of the chickens into goats. This certainly made a difference with the words that were used. Goats look, behave and make different sounds compared to chooks. This activity showed me how, in a picture book, one simple change can reverberate throughout the story. It can change the rhythm and the overall feel of the text.
The point of the exercise that I ran at our writer's group was to remind us that we need to plan our characters, and have a deep understanding of our characters and setting. We also need to know how our characters would act in different circumstances.
Some changes that you could make for this exercise are:
Hi all. Well I have finished my course, Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker through the Australian Writers' Centre . It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much. It did take a lot of time though, coming up with new stories nearly every week. It was an exciting challenge. Here is the whole story from my previous blog. Revised and updated. This story is loosely based on escape attempts of orangutans that I have read about in the news.
Mika - Lost in the Zoo
Mika enjoyed exploring her enclosure. She would climb along the ropes and swing to the high platforms. She would swing from bamboo pole to bamboo pole. Her favourite pastime was exploring and looking for the treats that the keepers had hidden.
It all changed when Keju was introduced to her family.
On the first day Keju sat in the corner with her head down. She wouldn’t look at anyone.
On the second day, Keju chased Mika.
On the third day Keju chased Mika and pulled her fur.
On the fourth day, Keju chased Mika, pulled her fur and stole Mika’s food.
On the fifth day Keju chased Mika, pulled her fur, stole Mika’s food and took her blanket.
On the sixth day, just as the sun was peaking its head over the treetops, Mika sat with her face turned to the sun. She felt the warmth of the sun on her face as it began to take the chill out of her fur. She clutched her blanket to herself as she sat down on the platform eating her breakfast.
Her eyes widened. She stared. There was a hole in the roof. Her heart beat fast. She swung from her platform, and climbed up the side of the enclosure to the hole. She poked at the hole, squeezed through and was out.
Mika walked along the boardwalk looking at all the different animals. She swung through the trees with a smile. She stared at the lions, the gorillas and the platypus. Soon her legs felt heavy, her eyelids drooped. Mika slowly climbed a tree, laid down on a branch and fell fast asleep.
Splat. Splat. Splat. Cold rain landed at her face. She opened her eyes. The sun was setting. Mika shivered. Her tummy growled loudly. Mika wanted to be back in her enclosure with her mum, her blanket, and her dinner.
“Ooo. Ooo,” she cried softly. She swung onto the ground.
How could she find her way home?
She asked the meerkats. They scampered away.
She asked the tigers. They roared at her.
She asked the baboons. They hooted at her and showed her their bright red bottoms.
Mika sat at the foot of a tall tree. Mika’s lip trembled. A tear ran down her cheek. What was she going to do now? She looked up. The tree!
She climbed the tree right to the very top. The branches swayed in the wind.
“Ooo…oh! Ooo…oh!” she yowled. “Help me! Help me!”
Her cries pierced the night and the zoo fell silent.
She cried again, and again, and again.
Mika finally saw a bright torchlight bobbing toward her. It was her keeper.
“Mika! Mika! Come down. Look what I have for you,” her keeper called up to her.
Mika sniffed. A delicious smell wafted up to her. It was her favourite treat. Cupcake. Yum.
Mika quickly swung into the waiting arms of her keeper.
“What have you been up to today, Mika? You must have had a big adventure.”
Mika was too busy eating her cupcake. Her tummy growled loudly again.
“Don’t worry Mika,” her keeper said. “I have dinner waiting for you back at your enclosure.”
Later that night, after a nice big dinner, Mika sat cuddled up to her mum in their nest… very, very happy to be home.
Keju walked over to Mika, dragging Mika’s blanket. She placed the blanket over Mika’s shoulders and sat next to her.
The two looked at each other. Mika lifted up the blanket and Keju scooted under.
The three curled up together and fell fast asleep. It had been a big day.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this story. Please let me know what you think.
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