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Features for Teachers: Writing Superpowered Stories

Posted on 03/06/2016 in Features for Teachers

Looking for a way to encourage creative writing with your class? We asked The Superpower Project author Paul Bristow for his top writing tips and he gave us some rather helpful advice!

Paul BristowThere’s lots of different advice for how to be a writer, but one of my favourite things someone said was, “Write the book only you can write”. I thought about that a lot. What was a story only I could tell? What were all the things that I liked, that could help me tell a story?

When I found the answers to those questions, writing my first book The Superpower Project, became a lot more fun, and a tiny bit easier too. So, I thought I’d share a few of the things I figured out, to help you write your story.

Mash It Up

Sometimes, a way to start getting ideas, to start telling a story, is to mash things together that don’t usually go together. Just to see what happens. Mashing things together, creates new ideas and questions, which will help you tell your story.

What I wanted to mash together, was superheroes, big giant machines, scary old buildings and history – all the things I liked.

Stop, Look and Listen

One of the other things that was really important to me, was that The Superpower Project was set in my home town. We are used to seeing superheroes battle it out over city skylines or exotic landscapes – they are rarely at the bottom of your street while you’re taking out the bins. Mashing together the amazing with the everyday creates a nice jarring contrast, which is good for sinister unease or comedy. Which just happen to be two of my other favourite things.

Looking around the places where we all live is another excellent way to inspire a story only you can tell. Sometimes, you can get so used to a place that you stop seeing it, even though you walk past it every day. However that does not mean that our places are any less magical than the faraway lands of myths and fairytales. So I started properly exploring my home town, taking photos of some of the more unusual places. And everywhere I went, I would hear stories about these places, and all of those stories gave me new ideas.

Question Everything

The library, as you know, is an excellent place to find new books to read, but it’s also an excellent place to find old books to read. Really old books. I looked through some of the old books, and found a story about strange lights flashing above the river Clyde one night in 1722. I liked that this was a really weird event from long ago, and decided to make it an important part of the story, tying it to local history. But there needed to be a reason. What are the strange lights? What do they have to do with Megan and her superpowers? By asking some more questions, I realised my story was becoming a mystery – and suddenly there were lots more questions to be answered. Each question pushed the story forward – occasionally it would push the story forward and straight into a dead end – but even then, I would have the question of how that happened and how to fix it…

The mash-ups, the exploration and the questions all helped me create a story only I could tell. The brilliant thing is, anyone can do that with your own favourite things, your own hometown legends and your own questions. After that, it’s really just a matter of sitting down and actually writing your story!

Read The Superpower Project as part of the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge!

Activity Sheets

Packed full of ideas for class and individual activities, our activity sheets offer fresh approaches to bringing local history and community to life in your classroom.

Download an Activity Sheet based on The Superpower Project

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