Sizzling Starts and Planning for Success

sizzstars

In class we have begun to look at the ‘7 Steps to Amazing Writing’. As a launching pad to the steps, we began by spending the first fortnight focusing on ‘Sizzling Starts’.

A Sizzling Start is a start to a piece of writing or story that really engages the reader and makes them want to read more in the story. It could be an action scene or something funny – anything that makes the reader want to keep reading more.

We have had a look at writing which does not sizzle (it fizzles!) and how it causes us to become disinterested in the writing. Some examples of this include writing that starts with ‘On the weekend…’ or ‘When I woke up…’.

Students have been fantastic at identifying sizzling starts! Some of the sizzling starts that we have identified in books, movies or television programs include:

  • The beginning of Stormbreaker, with Ian Rider being chased from Port Tallon. (thanks Tai)
  • The introduction to Men in Black, as the agents zap the alien in the desert. (Thanks Zak)
  • The movie Wall*E with its engaging and wonderful first scene.
  • The film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, which starts with the boulder chase scene.
  • The Simpsons Movie, when Homer poisons the town’s water supply (thanks Jarryd)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has a suspense filled start with many people dying
  • The television show Modern Family often starts with a comic scene that makes you laugh and want to keep watching.
  • The books Beware contain lots of short stories but they are all set in Halloween and full of suspense. (Zak)
  • The books in the Deltora Quest series contain twists at the start to make you want to find out what happens, such as when the main characters die out right at the start (thanks Zenia!)
  • Tomorrow When the War Began starts with a bombing and fighting scene
  • In the novel Breaking Dawn the character begins to talk about her life experiences and what has happened to her (thanks Kelly)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets captures you in by jumping off where the last story ends and Harry doing something he shouldn’t be doing.
  • The Short Second Life of Bree Tanya starts with a newspaper headline and the main character talking about how it will affect others

This is only a short list of some of the ideas that we discussed in class over the past fortnights. We have also completed a range of activities to get us good at thinking about quick starts to stories. These have including writing ‘five fast starts’ where we have to write the start to five stories in just ten minutes- yes it can be done! Ideas we were given for stories included “All of the kids are at school but there’s no teacher’s in sight”, “A ghost story about a dog with three legs” and “There’s a tree in the wetlands that eats kids”. It’s amazing what you can write in two minutes when you put your mind to it!

Today, we moved on to another of the steps and starting looking at Planning for Success.

planforsuccess

We spent some time this morning discussing the importance of having a wide range of ideas to be able to build a story from, and not necessarily using the first thing that pops in to your head. As a grade we brainstormed some large lists of different characters (heroes and villains), sidekicks, problems, settings and animals we might include in a story. From these lists, we had to use something from each list to write the start to a silly story. Here are some of the ideas we came up with.

  • A walking saucepan has to flee from the FBI who know his mysterious secret. It’s the year 2012 with Mayans freaking everywhere and with the help of a monkey his only transport is a non-stop kicking horse.  -Malinthi
  • A class full of heroes in the year 2500 has to stop a million dollar author and her evil cat from making every pencil in the world grow huge with only the help of Kevin Rudd. – Kelly
  • A fat cow and its sidekick the talking wheelchair have to fight the psycho killer for killing the Prime Minister, helped by a tiger with fangs. – Jesse
  • The evil cat is owned by a mad scientist in the year 3000 with the help of a supersized pig. But he was stopped by the talking tree. – Sarah
  • In the first year ever a lady had a super big pig and her sidekick bumble bee brother looked after it.  They also had an old lady, sick hobo and giant bee. – Olivia
  • A vampire, who has lived from 1899 to 2240 trying to find a way to become human again, has found her match, a demon and with only her mind and her python she has to kill him or he will control the world and herself forever.  -Amber
  • A farting monkey and sidekick, a non-stop kicking horse, would face and fight evil dog. They would fight in the year 2240. Evil dog will die and the world will end. -Ryan
  • There once was a zombie with his sidekick alien mouse named freckles. They tried to stop the evil flesh eating dog from trying to kill the guy with an evil haircut. – Jarryd
  • In the year 1204BC, one ex villan has to prove his hero worthiness by defeating an old Egyptian guy who wants to be the God of everyone, with the help of only his miniature talking dinosaur and his smart flying hippo. – Zenia

Wouldn’t these ideas make for an engaging story!