Channel 4 Learning


Homework High
English

Q. Hi! I have to write about a Childhood Memory for my Creative Writing Coursework. Please help me. I don't know I should begin and end it, and how I should structure the piece. Please help!

No problem. We’ll soon get you started on this one. The most important aspect of this is making sure that the memory you choose is a vivid one that you can really describe well. You need to bring in all of the five senses in order to bring that memory to life for the reader, so spend a few minutes making a note of the smells, noises, taste, textures, sights that were around during your memory. If you were quite young and can’t remember them then make them up. It’s really important that your account is convincing. Whatever you do when you begin this, don’t tell the reader what happened straight away! Unfold the details slowly and gradually using your description to give away the weather, your age, where you are etc. Don’t include times or dates or days as this is boring and predictable. Never begin: "I was five years old and one Tuesday during the Winter I broke my leg on the way to school and had to go to hospital." If you do this you’ve given the whole story away and have lost your reader's interest! Instead reveal each aspect slowly. If you were young at the time of your memory, you can get this across by how big everything looks to you. Describe the weather by the effect it has on you (numbs fingers or toes, slippery footsteps etc.) You can include some speech if you want to but your main aim should be to pack it full of very vivid descriptive detail. Try to use some similes or metaphors or some personification if you possibly can. You will probably find that you do this anyway without even thinking about it. E.g. "The wind’s icy breath chilled my bones as I waddled duck-like over the sheet of ice towards the school gates. Girls in thick scarves and moccasin gloves propped each other up as they made their way towards me, their steamy chewing gum breaths cursing the lazy gritter for not doing its job properly. I felt strangely alone. There was no best friend propping me up. Then they both fell with a hard thud on their bottoms and I felt a warm glow of satisfaction deep inside." Do you get the idea? Instead of saying it was a winter’s day and I was on my way to school, I’ve revealed this to the reader through my descriptive detail. There’s a hint that I might fall over and injure myself but it hasn’t happened yet. I would keep building up to it, perhaps describing a few near misses first and then the climax would be the agonising fall and the pain. I’d describe this using lots of short sentences. E.g. "I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t yell. I couldn’t even whisper. I’d heard my leg go crunch. Thwack then crunch. Pain. Agony. Silence. And then came the scream to end all screams". All you need to do now is to do this for your memory. Don’t reveal the dramatic point until well into the story – build up to it gradually. End it by expressing your feelings at that point. Was it the most painful or embarrassing moment of your life? If so say so!!! Hope this helps!

Submitted by: Sarah, (Age 14)

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Links
Fairground Spells
A highly interactive Key Stage 3 English site designed specifically to meet the needs of En3 Writing, Spelling and Punctuation.

Way with Words
Write poetry with Benjamin Zephaniah. The fun site also contains word games and a useful glossary.