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Video 1: Introduction




Christopher Cheng: Now, what are we going to be doing today?

We're going to be working about writing stories.

But the first thing I'd better tell you is a little bit about me.

So what do you think I do?

What's my job?

Do you think I work in a shop?

Student: No.

Student: You're a writer.

Christopher: I'm a writer.

Student: An author.

Christopher: An author. Very good.

Student: You get to write and you make up your story that you want to do.

Christopher: Exactly right, I get to make up something that nobody's ever heard of before.

This is something very important that all writers probably have.

What do you think this is?

Student: A diary.

Christopher: A diary.

A bit like a diary.

Student: Maybe like an ideas book?

Christopher: An ideas book, great.

And if I flick through it like this, this is my ideas book.

I carry this or something like this around with me all over the place and, of course, if I'm waking up at night I scribble ideas down on a

piece of paper and then I might stick it into my book.

If I'm travelling on a train I use my ideas book.

So one of the things everybody asks me, lots of kids ask me when I'm out in schools, 'Where do you get your ideas from?'

I get it from being really observant, from listening really carefully, from seeing lots around me and also from things I read.

Reading's really fantastic fun because you do get ideas.

I mean, I saw that picture in the newspaper and I thought, oh, awesome story.

Always keep an ideas book with me, very important.

Lots of authors do.

Illustrators, if you want to end up being, doing illustration work, a lot of illustrators actually carry illustration pads.

Video 2: Modelled writing




Christopher Cheng: I'm going to read you one of the parts of my book.

This one's a little bit different because it's not a straight narrative.

It's not like a straight story because this one has a lot of dates in it.

This is really important for part of your story.

So listen to this very carefully.

Tuesday, February 19

It was stupid.

It was simply words, but the words are why we are not in our camp anymore.

Words are why we are once again hiding in a strange place away from our gully.

Yesterday, two Big-Nose miners were crossing the gully.

They might have been in the wrong area.

They might not totally be at fault, although they did call out abusive words to Kok Keet.

But we Chinese should be strong, strong enough to ignore the words of hatred.

Instead, many Chinese miners rushed at them-and I would have rushed too if I was there.

I am filled with distress at our treatment.

This is one of the moments when I want to leave here and go home to my beautiful China, or at least to Sydney Town where there are many more Chinamen.

The European miners were outnumbered and fled when they saw so many Chinese, only to return with many more of their miners.

To begin, Kok Keet and some of his men threw grass and anything that was lying around while others cheered them on, but when the

European miners with their sticks and fists started beating the Chinese we fled-especially when we saw those flags, the English, American and Irish flags.

I am sure our tents are burnt to the ground by now.

Now that's part of my book 'New Gold Mountain'.

It's historical fiction so it's based around?

What do you think it is based around?

Student: The Gold Rush?

Christopher: The Gold Rush.

Exactly right and it's history.

So it's real history.

It really did happen but I've written a fictional story about what really happened.

You'll be able to read that one in the library.

What did you notice?

What did you find?

What were some of the things I was talking about in the story?

Student: That the Chinese were saying things about other people in the goldfield area.

They were outnumbering them.

Christopher: Yes, very good, so there was an outnumbering of the Chinese to the European miners to start with, very good.

Anything else you can tell me about when you were listening to that?

Student: You can almost see it happening.

Christopher: Very good, that's exactly what I wanted.

You can almost see it exactly happening.

So do you think I've done my job if that's the case?

Students: Yes.

Christopher: Yes, I've done my job as the writer.

I've put that story in your head and I've given you enough description so you can see exactly what I'm trying, I'm picturing in my head,

because I have a very vivid picture in my head of what is happening in my story.

That's what I want you to remember when you're writing your story.

Get it pictured in your head, clear in your head and then you put it down into the book form, into the story form.

Video 3: Narrative structure




Christopher Cheng: Do you think you can write a story in a nursery rhyme format?

We're going to have a look at one.

Who can tell me Humpty Dumpty?

Let's have a look at some of the parts of the story.

So, who's it about?

Humpty Dumpty.

Okay, I'm just going to put 'Humpty' up.

Whoops, the board wobbles!

So that's part of the story, the character, who's it about.

What's another part of the story?

Student: When he was sitting on the wall.

Christopher: Okay, so that's another part of the story.

So we'll put 'sitting on the wall', or we'll just put 'sitting.'

Who can think of another part of the story?

Student: When he fell off the wall.

Christopher: Terrific.

So he fell off. I'm just going to put a down arrow.

Then what happened in the story?

Student: All the king's horses and all the men, like, they couldn't put Humpty together again.

Christopher: Okay, so all the fellas, all the people, couldn't put Humpty together.

So that was another one.

So we've got a few different parts of the story that we're looking at.

We've got the orientation or who it's about.

Yeah, that's the one part.

Who's it about?

Students: Humpty Dumpty.

Christopher: Humpty. Now what was the problem?

He fell off the wall.

And what was the end result?

That was the problem.

And what was the end result?

What really happened to Humpty?

Student: He was in pieces?

Christopher: He was in pieces.

Student: He's cracked?

Christopher: He's cracked.

The end result of falling off the wall?

He's dead.

Video 4: Brainstorming ideas




Christopher Cheng: We're going to plan out a story.

We're going to plan out all the different parts of a story.

I can hear the cogs turning in the head.

Okay, what could you write?

Student: Maybe soccer.

Christopher: Soccer, really good.

Student: Ballet.

Christopher: Ballet, great.

Student: Rainforest.

Christopher: Wonderful. I've got some non-fiction books about rainforests too and how important they are.

Have you got an idea?

Student: Fantasy.

Christopher: A fantasy. What would your fantasy be about?

Student: Fairies.

Christopher: Fairies, great.

So fantasy is the type of story, it's a type of narrative that you would write, but the fairies, that's what you're really writing about.

Student: The boy who lost his dog.

Christopher: Okay good.

Boy lost dog, interesting.

Student: The Great Barrier Reef.

Christopher: Oh, wonderful place. Okay, Great Barrier Reef.

Now, I'm thinking that we've got to write a story about something up here and you know I love all of those ideas and I think I could

write a story about all of them, but I'm going to choose one.

And it's not because your story idea's no good, it's just that I think this will be a really fun one, because then we've got to come up with,

we've got a topic, something we could write about.

Then we're going to work out a quick plan of what could happen in a story.

Let's see what I might choose.

Okay, we're making up a story about fairies.

So when you start writing a story it must be really strong.

You need to grab the reader straight off and character description is one of the ways you do that.

What does your fairy look like?

Let's come up with some ideas.

We won't write them all up but we'll come up with some ideas for what a fairy could look like.

What would be part of your fairy?

Student: Pink, sparkling wings.

Christopher: Pink, sparkling wings. What does your fairy do?

Student: Help people.

Christopher: It helps people. Okay, pink, sparkly wings that helps people.

Terrific, now you came up with the fairy idea.

What can you tell me about your fairy?

What does it do?

Student: Well, what, like Nadia said, it helps people.

Christopher: It helps people, great.

What might it do to help people?

Student: Say, someone stuck in an accident.

Student: After it's been raining it paints a rainbow up in the sky.

Christopher: Great, it paints a rainbow.

So that's how the rainbows happen.

Fairies actually paint rainbows.


Don't look so puzzled.

That's your idea.

That's part of the story, so great.

That's part of what you're doing with your fairy.

So we've got a fairy that helps people, fairies that paint rainbows.

What else do fairies do?

I saw the hand pop up.

Student: They collect tooths.

Christopher: They collect the teeth that people lose.

Yes, do they collect just baby teeth?

Student: No, every teeth.

Christopher: Every teeth? So all the grandpas and grandmas that are losing their teeth, they collect those too?

Student: Yep.

Christopher: What do fairies do with the teeth?

Student: They put the teeth in as twinkling stars in the sky.

Christopher: Twinkling stars in the sky, I love this.

Look we've gone from fairies that help people, that collect teeth.

The teeth have gone from being in people's mouths, up in the sky, to the stars that twinkle at night.

I love that story.

What a really super story we've just made and I think that's a fantastic idea through the floods.

And what was the other helping one that we had?

Student: Rainbow?

Christopher: Yes, the fairies that make the rainbow.

Oh, okay, how do fairies make the rainbow?

Student: In their shoes they have, like, little paint balls and, like, as they kick their feet they're using their wings, but they kick their feet

and then all the paint goes in a line to make the rainbow.

Student: Whoever's doing the kicking has to wear their gumboots and wear the gumboots all day.

Christopher: So they wear their gumboots all day and they make the rainbow.

That's why there aren't a gazillion rainbows in the sky.

Student: Yep.

Christopher: So we're coming up with ideas.

We've got a description now.

We've got the description of what our fairy looks like and those are three ideas or three problems that we've come up with and the solution.

And what happens?

There it is.

So you've just created a story just from when we've talked about it as a group.

We've created a story.

We've come up with ideas.

We've thought about what we are going to write about, some characters, some problems that are in it and, of course, we've got the end result, the resolution.

Because there's no point saying, 'Oh, I've got a fairy and my fairy creates rainbows.'

I'm going to say, 'Yeah? And what happens?

'Well, my fairy goes round and collects all the gazillion, gamillion teeth.'

And what did I say?

'What happens to all those teeth?'

Because I'm the reader.

I want to know what happens.

So we come up with the solution.

We come up with the stars that are up in the sky.

Video 5: Guided writing




Christopher Cheng: Now when you're working out your story, you've got to do exactly the same thing.

You think of who you are going to write about or what you're going to write about.

You come up with any ideas you can.

You know, you might be stuck for a writing idea.

If you're stuck for a writing idea what's the one thing that you know more than anybody else in the whole world?

Student: Yourself and your ideas.

Christopher: Very good. You know yourself and your ideas.

So if you're really, really, really stuck for a story and you can't think of something like fairies or floods or soccer or something like that, you come up, you can start with 'me.'

You know yourself better than anybody else and you might think of things to do with yourself as part of the story, so you write yourself into the story.

Of course, you could write yourself as being the fairy and do all the things you imagine you would love to do.

You've got a couple of seconds now.

I want you to think about something you could write about.

Because very shortly we're going to go to the tables and we're going to start writing.

And when you go to your tables this is what we are going to be doing.

You're going to be working out who you could write about.

You're actually going to plan your story.

I want you to work out what your story is about, what happens to them, the complication or the problem, and then I want you to work out what the resolution is.

How is the problem solved?

What happens in the end?

It's exactly what we've just done here with our fairy.

Video 6: Independent writing




Christopher Cheng: We're getting our descriptions coming down. This is great.


Christopher: Now I had a look around.

Every one of you, you did your plan, you had your plan.

Some of you have started really getting your story written out and started the introduction and things like that and that's really great.

And we talked about some of the plans and what other things you could put into your plan to develop your characters more to give you

another storyline so you can plot it; what is going to happen in your story so you can develop your characters more; develop your stories more.


Most of you all, in fact I think all of you, had a resolution to your stories and that was one of the things I asked too, to find out

what would happen in the end of your story.

So you've got it clear in your head.

You've started writing.

Wonderful work.

I just thought what we'd do now as I've picked a couple of you out, just from, just from walking around having a look and I just thought

what we'll do is I'll get you to just read the first parts of your story.

Student: The Great Escape

'Binky! Zimmo! Time for lunch.'

Yuck, I hate lunch.

It is always the same thing, slop.

I tried to hide, before it was too late.

Which wasn't easy for me.

I mean, you'd be thinking the same thing if you were an elephant trapped in Taronga Zoo.

I quickly hid behind a crate.

'If you don't come out on the count of five I'm going to come in and get you myself,' Lucy, the boss's assistant, called.

I tried to pretend I couldn't hear her, which wasn't easy with gigantic ears like mine.

Christopher: Wonderful. Excellent. Now, who's telling your story?

Student: Binky.

Christopher: And Binky is?

Student: An elephant.

Christopher: Very good, good idea.

No, although you said 'slop', interesting.

I'd like to know what the slop is.

Good parts, though,

Love the start of your story, so you really got us right in.

We got the character straight away.

We knew exactly what was going to start happening.

Really good, enjoyed it very much.

Student: One day, in the far world of fantasy, battles were raging against all the armies called Vampire Counts, Orcs, Goblins, Dwarfs, Empire and Skavin.

Christopher: Terrific, so we've got the setting straight away.

We know who is involved in our story and we've sort of got an idea what's going to happen to them.


Soccer World Cup, here we go. Somebody's a soccer fan here.

Student: It is the World's Cup 2010 out of the Spana arena, with my friends Josh and Austin and Jason.

Whoever wins out of these teams are in the final: Brazil versus Portugal, Italy versus Australia, France versus Spain.

Christopher: Terrific, so he has set the scene for us so we know exactly what's going to start happening in our story.

We know this is the soccer, we know it's the final, so already we're plopped right into his story and we're thinking, hmm, I'd like to

find out more about this character. Very good.

Okay, and the last one, up here.

And it's Magic Unicorns.

Student: 'Mum, can I play with the red bouncy ball?' asked Eroke.

Eroke was a unicorn with a beautiful silver body and a gold mane.

He had a pink and purple spiralled point.

'If you really want to,' said Eroke's mother.

'Be back before teatime.'

Suddenly Eroke's horn tingled.

Someone was in trouble.

Christopher: Loved it.

I loved the action starting off straight away with the character.

We got some conversation going to start with and we were just able right at the end there of the introduction to get the tingling and

I'm thinking to myself, now, what's the tingling?

Somebody's in trouble and now I'm thinking that I'd like to know what the trouble is.

What's going to happen?

I'm sure we're going to find out a little later in the story how the horn tingles and why it tingles and stuff like that.

Great, really good introduction.

Really got me listening, as I was listening, to think that I'd like to keep reading the story.

What your teacher tells you to do with writing, with writing the story outlines and getting the plans done and getting your characters

clearly in your head, I hope that, I'm pretty certain I've said pretty much the same thing.

But I actually do the same type of thing, too.

I write them and I do exactly the same process that you do.

I plot it, I plan it, I get it clear in my head so I know.

Because if I don't know in my head you, as the reader, aren't going to know.

Because you won't be able to read. I won't have put the right words down into the story.

So that's the whole point of what we've tried to do.

We've tried to look at a plan, look for how we can structure a story and really just sit down and get it going.

And that's been great.