Playing with genre
Playing with genre
As Pablo Picasso suggests, you need to ‘learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.’
This short film looks at the Three Little Pigs from a journalistic perspective. It encourages us to look at the story from different angles.
Taking a well-known story and twisting it, for example by changing the features to twist the genre (as in Shrek, Tangled, Wicked and Maleficent) can be a useful exercise.
It is also helpful to look at well-known events from a different, previously unknown perspective such as historical novels from the point of view of minor characters (as in The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Queen).
Encourage your pupils to create something new and fresh by playing with the familiar. For example, they could:
- rewrite a traditional tale as the diary entry of the villain or the prince who failed to cut through the briars;
- rewrite a traditional tale as a dystopian world, where features of a particular genre are pushed to the limits, for example Lord Farquaad’s palace in Shrek; or
- choose the historical setting of one story and rewrite the plot and characters from a very different genre into the new setting.
Recognising different genres
Pupils know more about genre than they might think. Use the extracts in the [Recognising different genres] resource to tease out the recognisable features of different genre. What clues are there in each extract as to the genre? What changes could you make to each of the extracts in order to change the genre?
Ask your pupils to work in teams of four. Show them the activity and ask them to find connections between the jumbled features of the different genres. Reveal each of the features to the class and ask your pupils to list all the genres that they think each feature might fit. Encourage each team to justify their responses. The team with the most answers wins.
You may also wish to use the [Connections game] resource by revealing each feature and asking the pupils to list as many genres as possible that that feature might fit. Pupils need to justify their responses.
The team with the most answers wins.
Use this short story to explore the power of the extra information you provide to create mood or genre.
You could use the extract from Mirror in the Mist to discuss the way that the setting has been described to create an atmosphere.
[Creating atmosphere Download]
This Writing Exercises prompt generator provides a stimulus with a focus on plot, character or setting.
Mystery story generator
Mystery story generator
Ask your pupils to think about the structure of a mystery story.
Mystery story: option one
In small groups, ask your pupils to use the mystery story generator to select one ingredient from each of the four columns. Ask each group to invent a story using the four chosen ingredients. They should use any of the structures outlined in Section 5: Structure. Allow 15–20 minutes for thinking and planning time. Ask each group to recount their narrative to another group or the whole class.
Mystery story: option two
In small groups, ask your pupils to use the mystery story generator to select one ingredient from each of the four columns. Ask each member of the group to invent a story using the four ingredients They should use any of the structures outlined in Section 5: Structure. Allow 15–20 minutes for thinking and planning time. Ask each member of the group to recount their narrative to the rest of their group. Then ask them as a group to select their favourite plot before sharing it with the rest of the class. This game aims to generate new ideas. You can use it as a standalone activity or to create a more developed piece of written work.
[Mystery story generator Download]
Extended writing activities to use with the mystery story generator
Ask the groups to role-play their stories to the rest of the class. Choose the focus of the role-play, for example character development or the importance of setting or developing dialogue.
Encourage the groups to suggest titles for the stories.
Ask each pupil to create blurbs for their story.
Encourage each pupil to create three different types of opening paragraphs, for example setting, character or action.
Using the other resources in this section, this activity can lead to creating an extended piece of writing.