Part 2, Project 2 – Exercise: Show, don’t tell

Extract 3, written for 5-8yr olds:
Napoleon sat in the corner of the barn with a frown appearing across his eyes, two little black beads staring out at the rest of the animals. His short coarse hair was standing to attention on his head and his mouth formed an odd-looking shape, as though a wasp had flown inside and stung his cheek. He wasn’t liked very much in the barn. He was bossy and became grumpy when he didn’t get what he wanted. He was quiet and only spoke when he wanted something. Perhaps being the only Berkshire boar on the farm made him feel the odd one out. It definitely didn’t make him very friendly.

Snowball, like Napoleon, was a pig, but was much shorter in height and the colour of candy floss. Napoleon’s skin was a mixture of greys and blacks, as though someone couldn’t make up their minds which colour he should be. Snowball, however, was easy to find not least for his pink hue but because he skipped around. Sometimes he felt he should have been a sheep, a new-born lamb merrily hopping amongst the fields in the sunshine. However, he knew he was a pig and a happy one at that.

Popular amongst the others, Snowball liked telling jokes and when he wasn’t avoiding Napoleon’s moods, he would chatter with much energy to the others. Some of them enoyed his enthusiasm but others were not sure that Snowball really understood the jokes that he told; he didn’t always get the punchlines and often looked confused when others laughed. Some of the ducks had decided that he was a little shallow and didn’t take much notice of him.

Extract 3, written for 9-11yr olds:
Napoleon walked into the barn confidently, as though he owned it and everything within it. He sat in the middle of the other pigs, himself being the only Berkshire boar amongst them. This made him different. Stand out. Better. He looked down his short snout at the rest of the animals, sniffing the air at some bad smell that only he could sense. His mouth drew a hard firm line beneath his nose. It didn’t move. His rear left foot tapped rhythmically on the ground, annoyance coarsing through him.

Napoleon was silent and bored. The other animals could sense it and kept their distance. All except for Snowball. His pitter-patter trotters danced along the straw-strewn concrete floor, much to further Napoleon’s annoyance.

A bright blob of candy-floss pink was now sitting next to Napoleon, contrasting vividly against the dappled grey and black back of the miserable boar. Snowball was affable, cheerful, always glad of good conversation but felt this was a challenge for some living in the barn. The ducks were moody and often made excuses to go swimming in the pond at the far side of the paddock. The two chestnut brown horses were too old to be interested and preferred chomping down noisily in their nose-bags. The flock of geese were happy enough to talk with Snowball, providing the fox hadn’t been snooping around. All Snowball wanted was someone to listen to his tales of adventure across the yard. He learnt jokes off the farm-hand but would sometimes forget the punchline, which let him down.

For the younger age group, I used shorter words and sentences. The imagery was more immediate and obvious. For the older group I felt able to be more expansive with the story, go into more detail and use longer words and sentences. I found both age groups easy to write for but definitely had to be considerate of my audience and ensure that I kept within certain technical parameters.

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