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English - Monster writing task

What the lesson is about

"Nathan's Nightmare Pills. Guaranteed to cause sleepless nights, cold sweats, ghostly manifestations and uncontrollable terrors. Must be taken with care on a dark and stormy night. Active ingredients include: vile verbs, nightmarish nouns, appalling adjectives, abominably awful adverbs and a deadly selection of spine-chilling similes as ominous as a bell striking midnight."

Normally you wouldn't go near them, but this week we are writing our winter ghost stories and to make them extra spooky we have decided to use a selection of ingredients from the Shop of Horrors, writes Steve Eddison.

Next to Nathan's Nightmare Pills is an extra large box of Coffin Sweets, described as a "cadaver-filled crypt of deadly metaphors". Beside this is a tub labelled Ice Screams.

Taking it further

Want your children to cook up the best ghost stories this winter? First, choose the grimmest of ingredients. Collect some suitable containers - jars, cartons, boxes - cover them with papier mache and paint them black. While these are drying, collect the most ghoulishly grim books and ghost stories you can find and scour them for wicked words and fearful phrases. In graving-robbing fashion, steal the best and set aside for filling your containers.

Stealing (or borrowing) words, phrases and ideas from other writers is what writers do. It is also what teachers do. I borrowed the idea for my Shop of Horrors from Monster Supplies at the excellent Ministry of Stories (

Finally, come up with horrible product names and product labelling. Pallid puns and awful alliteration will ensure a rictus-like grin; as for illustrations, you cannot beat bony skulls, hovering ghosts and collapsing gravestones. Then close the curtains, light the candle and let the shadows dance.

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