Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Creative Writing: The sleuthing way!

When I was still in school, English was my favorite subject. Being the bookworm that I am, I found the subject fairly easy as there is not much prep-work to be done. The secret to English, I discovered, was to read, read and read.

Perhaps because the syllabus was more forgiving then so children were not expected to write compositions until they reach the Upper Primary level where at that age, most of us would have matured and are able to voice our thoughts and pen our plots well.

Now that I am a parent, the challenge is different and the struggle, many times, is real. I am blessed that the kid loves languages and reads a lot but she was a reluctant writer. It took a few years to build up the practice before she was more intentional with her vocabulary and plot development. It is no secret that I am not a big fan of memorized phrases as I find such approach meaningless. My thoughts are if the children are inspired, there will be that innate passion and interest to pursue / delve into that area of interest.

With this belief, I recently helped organize a creative writing workshop and not just any “regular” workshop but one facilitated by the authors of Sherlock Sam, a popular children’s series! From an educator and a parental perspective, I wanted the children to have a chance to meet published authors and understand their process, their work and the “pains”! 

:: The authors
Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez are the authors of the Sherlock Sam series. Under the pen name of AJ Low, this husband and wife pen wielding team is well-matched both in interest and in the humour department, judging at some of the funny antics our hero Sherlock, gets up to. 

:: The workshop
The workshop started with an introduction on themselves as well as how they organise their ideas and co-write before they moved on to share on character development. 

The sharing was light-hearted and engaging as it was peppered with their own experiences while developing the characters - Watson and Sherlock Sam. (It helps that funny illustrations were shown too. LOL)

After every "segment", the children were then given time to work on their versions.

What I like was that tips were also shared and the authors walked around to interact with the children, asking them about their progression, prodding them to extend the storyline a bit more, etc. 

E.g. Dumpling decided on a super hero dog. Adan then "challenged" her to think deeper about the villain's background, the language her super hero spoke (LOL), what crimes her superhero would solve, etc. 

(The young participants were raring to share their characters with the authors) 

(Some of the boys' characters)

Judging from the response from the children, many were really excited about reading and parents have shared that they almost dove immediately into the series after the workshop. Some mums have also shared that the children discussed about the session / characters with them on the way home too.

:: How to book for it
The event was booked through the publisher - Epigram where a flat rate is charged for the workshop (about 90mins). Venue has to be arranged on your end. There is no minimum number of attendees to start the workshop since it is a flat rate. 

For this group, we prefer a smaller and cozier group so we had a size of 13. To support the event, Epigram also brought down some books for onsite purchase (though pre-orders can be arranged) and autographs were done by the authors after the workshop.  

:: What this workshop is not
The session is not a tuition session nor is it a diagnostic clinic. If you are looking for a workshop where you wish to expose your child to "power phrases" or to learn about certain "said formats" ~ e.g. the 5W and 1H, then this will not be for you. 

The attendees of this workshop were mainly in the Lower Primary (all except 1) and objectives that the parents had were to encourage the children to write in a meaningful and fun manner.

This is through inspiring the children through the engagement of these 2 published authors who bring with them a different set of experiences. Experiences on how they get ideas, how they work on developing the characters and story lines of Sherlock Sam, etc. 


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