Assignment 2 – Thoughts

It has been a bit of a struggle to get going with this assignment. What to do? One story or two?  Asking the question on the forum gave me the answer that should have been so obvious. I was so busy wondering what sort of story would fit 1500 words and which age groups to choose that I almost missed it. Choose an age category and write a story. As simple as that. As Barbara Henderson pointed out. Some stories will naturally be around 1500 words whereas others will be longer.

So I set about clustering on ‘hiding places’ bringing up lots of ideas and paths to follow. I researched hiding places on the internet but that was either Ways to hide your valuables by making secret drawers, cupboards etc or Lots of photographs of young children in silly hiding places where they are totally visible. I went back to my childhood and remembered building dens and playing hide and seek.  I tried free-writing and managed an opening page for a few different stories before choosing what I thought was the best idea.

So I started and everything was fine…apart from plot. I knew who was in my story, the setting but what was the dilemma? That was proving to be quite difficult. Looking back to the notes in my WFC assignment book and reading the advice about ‘looking through the child’s eyes’ I decided to get input from my favourite audience – my grandchildren.

I pick them up from school on Wednesdays and look after them until Mum or dad gets home from work. Elliot is 9 and Holly is 7 so they were perfect for the7+ category I had chosen. I asked Holly to read my opening out loud to check for suitability of words and layout. She seemed very comfortable with it and Elliot was very quiet and engaged. So far so good.

Afterwards, we had a long discussion about what the dilemma could be and how was my main character Lucy going to resolve it. The ideas were wide and varied , stimulating me to add even more. They wrote notes on all these ideas and were excited to be part f the process.

I shall take it again next week for more feedback as I progress. What a satisfying way to develop a story.




Assignment Two – Exercise – Writing for different age groups

I am doing the ‘show, don’t tell’ exercise on page 40 of WFC and I’m really struggling with pin pointing age groups. The extracts have confused me and I was surprised by the age groups that they were aimed at. I thought I had worked it out but now I have tried the exercise, I am not so sure.

I aimed the first scene at 7+ and intended to do the second one for 9-12 years but I can’t seem to get started and am now wondering if my first attempt should be for that age group. What do you think?

Extract of a story.

Written for 7+

The tickling feeling in Snowball’s tummy would not go away. The other pigs watched her from a safe distance as they shuffled about in the muddy earth.

She turned to look at them, eyes wide, eyebrows raised, snout twitching. They snuffled and nodded their heads, urging her to go on. Snowball swallowed hard and took a deep breath before turning to face Napoleon again. His broad back was towards her and his snout was deep in the trough. She tried to ignore the smell of food as she cleared her throat.

‘Ah-hem.’ squeaked Snowball, her voice sounding higher than she had intended. ‘Could I have a word, Napoleon?’

Napoleon grunted loudly but carried on eating, chomping and slurping. His curly tail tried, without much success, to swat the fly that was crawling over his extremely large and hairy, black bottom.  Snowball wrinkled her nose at such a horrible sight. She was proud of being pure white and everyone had always commented on her beauty and trim figure.

Snowball tried again.

‘The others have had a meeting and…’ She hesitated as Napoleon’s head snapped up. ‘…and they have asked me to come and speak to you…about meal times.’

Napoleon grunted and stuck his snout back into the trough.

‘They…They don’t think it’s fair that you always eat all the best bits.’

Snowball looked back at the others again. All six pigs pretended to be looking for something in the ground. Snowball was beginning to feel very alone. Why on earth did I volunteer, she asked herself before trying once more.

‘Now look here, Napoleon. You can’t always have everything you want. I…’

Napoleon stopped eating. He slowly turned his great hulk of a body and faced Snowball. His long snout was covered in bits of food.

‘And who is going to stop me.’ He bellowed.

Snowball staggered backwards and nearly lost her balance in the ankle-deep mud. He had nearly made her fall and get her beautiful white coat dirty. How dare he, she thought.

‘We…We are.’ she squealed in anger.

She heard the others squeaking and grunting as they ran off in several directions. Now she really was alone.

‘Is that so?’ Napoleon asked, almost laughing out loud.

Snowball puffed her chest out.

‘Yes, that is so. From now on you must take your turn to eat like everyone else.’ She could hear her own voice getting louder. ‘We…I won’t let you bully us anymore.’

Snowball marched up to the trough. She held her head high and tried to keep her herself from slipping  and sliding in the gloopy mess. Her feet were making squelching noises as the mud sucked at her toes with every step.

She pushed passed Napoleon, hurting her soft shoulder as it caught the muscles of his side. Ignoring the pain, she pushed her face into the trough and bit down on a juicy apple core. Her mouth watered as it crunched in her jaws. A ripe banana, all black and sweet and mushy, found its way into her mouth and she giggled with delight. Forgetting her fear, she lifted her head and grinned at Napoleon.

‘Now this is what I call heaven.’ she said.

Napoleon stared at her. No pig had ever done that before. No other pig had ever challenged him. He didn’t know whether to bite her or join in the feast. Greed got the better of him. He moved up to her side and nudged her.

‘Move up. I want some banana.’ he grunted.

‘What’s the magic word?’ she asked, her eyes flashing at him, her snout curled into a snarl.

‘Please.’ he whispered not wanting the others to hear.

Assignment 2- Exercise 2 – Thoughts

I enjoyed writing the opening page called The Last Flight during this exercise. Trying to write for a particular age category was not as simple as I had thought. I hadn’t realised that authors paid so much attention to paragraph sizes, word counts etcetera. I have always written first and then made a quick judgement about who might like to read it rather than the age group it was suitable for. I can now look at things with a more critical eye and even if I write the piece first, I will be able to edit and adjust to suit the relevant age category.  I am beginning to understand why the length of words is so important and the way they are laid out on the page. Shorter paragraphs will not be too daunting for a child of 7 whereas a child of 12 or more would be probably feel that the book is too young for them if written in such a basic sentence structure. Having said that, books like Tom Gates, with it’s cartoon doodles and short paragraphs, are ideal for the older child who hasn’t a lot of confidence in their reading ability.

Assignment 2 – Exercise 2 – Writing for different age groups

Exercise – Assignment Two- Writing for different age groups



Paragraph Length  – Avg 36 words

Average number sentences per paragraph – 2-3

Word Length – 4-5 letters with occasional 6-7 letters

Use of colloquial words and exclamations – none

Perspective or viewpoint – Third person





Paragraph Length  – Avg 78 words

Average number sentences per paragraph – 5

Word Length – 5-7 letters with occasional 8-10 letters

Use of colloquial words and exclamations – none

Perspective or viewpoint – Third person




Private Peaceful 9+

Paragraph Length  – Avg 53 words

Average number sentences per paragraph – 4

Word Length – 5-6 letters with occasional 6-8 letters

Use of colloquial words and exclamations – none

Perspective or viewpoint – First person



Paragraph Length  – Avg 23 words

Average number sentences per paragraph – 3-4

Word Length – 6-7 letters with occasional 8-9 letters

Use of colloquial words and exclamations – bored x 2

Perspective or viewpoint – Third person


The Last Flight 12+

Valador pressed his face against Trojan’s muzzle and wrapped his arms around the broad neck. The tears almost froze as they ran down his cheeks. Trojan neighed and snorted, clouds of breath swirling and coiling in to the sharp cold blue sky. Valador had looked after Trojan for as long as he could remember. He couldn’t part with him after so many years.  How could his father be so cruel? Why Trojan? Why not one of the others? Surely the King would never know if they sent another one instead?

He already knew the answer. Trojan was the most valuable, the most coveted in all the land and destined to go to the King. His father would never betray the King. Why then did it feel so wrong?

The Royal Word Bringer had arrived having travelled all the way from the Citadel to bring an urgent message to his father only one time-turn ago.

‘Fidel, my loyal and brave guardian of the steeds. I send news that my beloved Javelin was mortally wounded in the skirmish against the dark warriors and I need a new battle mount to take his place. It is time that Trojan fulfilled his destiny and carried the King to victory as it was foretold. I pray that the Word Bringer and the few armed soldiers that accompanied him have managed to reach you so that they can bring Trojan back to me before all three moons have left the sky. ‘


Paragraph Length  – Avg 61 words

Average number sentences per paragraph – 4-5

Word Length – 6-7 letters with occasional 8-10 letters

Use of colloquial words and exclamations – none but several ‘made up’ words

Perspective or viewpoint – Third person