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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Slow Motion/Emotion - Developing "Voice" in Story Writing

One of the main reasons our students are not writing with as much voice as we may like is the amount of television they watch. In the olden days (as my kids like to say) we would read much more than kids do now. We were required to use our imagination. Today, T.V. nearly does away with the need for imagination; but wait - don't throw it out yet!
May I introduce an activity I call "Slow Motion/Emotion" that brings voice back into writing. Look for a DVD movie that includes events which cause at least one character to have an emotional reaction. Watch it the first time at normal speed, and then stop the movie to analyze with your students what just took place. After you feel they have the gist of what happened, watch it again, but this time slow it down to still step mode which allows you to see the movements frame by frame. Your students will take turns expressing what the character is doing with every movement of his body.
How did his face change? (eyes, mouth, eye brows...) What did the character do with his arms, legs, hips, fingers, etc.? Guess what he might have been thinking... what was going on in his mind and heart? What did he say and why did he say it that way? After seeing it again in slow motion, each will try to write out the scene, being as accurate in detail as possible using the same descriptive words as the class did. So much takes place over a few seconds in a movie that there is no way the viewer can catch it all at full speed.
What child won't jump at the opportunity to watch a movie? Now you can use this as an ally and a tool for improving voice when it comes to the emotions.

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