After several years running my successful Change The Channel talks, I’ve added some workshops to my repertoire, allowing me to return to schools I’ve already spoken at, or even add alongside a day of Change The Channel talks.
If you’re interested in any of these workshops, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VAMPIRES ATTACK! (Up to 60 students, no writing involved)
One of the things that I’ve always tried to get across in my talks is that people always like books where they can relate to the character. Harry Potter didn’t sell because he was a wizard, but instead because he was an 11 year old who discovered a world of magic. Katniss in The Hunger Games was a normal (if slightly good with a bow) girl thrown into a new world. Even Doctor Who has a normal, human companion. The reason these stories work is because the reader gets to go ‘what would I do’, becoming a normal character in a fantastical situation.
And this is the joy of Vampires Attack. The group are given a simple scenario – they’re the only ones left in the building and there are five Vampires outside. What do they do? The workshop builds upon their own decisions, real world ones made to this fantastical threat. Where do they find weapons, and will they affect the Vampires? Do they want to fight or hide – or worse still be a Vampire? If it’s the latter, would they betray their friends to do this?
As the workshop continues, each student takes a role depending on their own involvement. Some may lead. Some may betray and destroy. But the story will be based in realism, and show the students that, when placing a character in a story, to put yourself in their shoes is sometimes the best thing one can do.
Please note: I don’t use Vampires to shock, I use them because they have established rules. They can’t enter without being invited, which gives the students time to make choices. They can only be killed by certain things, and many of these can be found in the school, the canteen or the sports hall. Because of this, the students can really become creative. Last year during the blizzard I had a class create garlic snowballs!
THE WHEEL OF MISFORTUNE (Up to 60 students, groups, writing)
Many schools I visit inform me that one of the biggest problems they have with students writing stories is that they get too attached to one thing, get ‘tunnel vision’ or ‘blinkers’ about the story and it fails as a result. With the Wheel of Misfortune, the student doesn’t get this chance.
Arranged into small groups, each writing one story, the students are given up to ten minutes to create three characters and a scenario based around a wedding. It could be the bride, groom and vicar. The bride, groom and best man who secretly loves the bride. The bride, her mum and the thief trying to steal her tiara – anything. But there are only three characters. The wedding can also be anywhere, at any time – but by the first changeover, the three characters and the location of the wedding must be set.
And then the wheel turns. Each group passes their story to the NEXT group.
So now the group has someone ELSES characters and location, and must spend the next ten minutes writing a scene where the line ‘put the gun down‘ is said. Who has a gun? Why is it out?
And then the wheel turns. And the sheets are passed again. Now, you have characters that aren’t your own, a location you didn’t design and a situation you didn’t create. And now you have ten minutes to end the story.
By the end of the workshop, each group has worked with three different papers, and the thought about being precious about it has disappeared. Also, they can see what other people would do with their characters. This not only helps the students relax on their stories, but also gets them thinking fast and improvising on their feet as well as seeing alternate takes on things that they’ve created.