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 by the end, each of them will have their own, individual journey, and therefore story.
And this story will be based in realism, and show the students that to put yourself in a character’s shoes is sometimes the best way to create a memorable character.
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. One year during a blizzard I had a class create garlic snowballs!
THE WHEEL OF MISFORTUNE (Up to 60 students, groups, writing)
Many schools that 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 two 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. And, the next section of the story is randomly chosen. The groups might have to write something bad, something good, kill a character, add a character, create the next part without speaking, write someone else’s story – they never know what’s next, constantly under a time pressure to get the next part done.
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.