Neil Arksey

26th September 2003 at 01:00
Working with the extract

This is an example of an exciting and descriptive autobiographical story that has been well crafted. Discuss with your pupils how the writer achieves his effect. Look at how the writer creates tension for the reader through the build-up of detail, sentence length and choice of vocabulary.

The structure of the piece is also worth discussing. The story begins with a memory of the writer's sister which links to a memory about himself, but the details of that incident take a while to unfold. The reader learns about the caravanning holiday in Scotland and the flood scare. The author describes the importance of food on the holiday and mentions instant desserts and cider. Once the scene has been set, the particular incident starts to unfold but it is only at the end that the reader, with the writer, understands the danger and the full horror of the situation. The final paragraph rounds it off neatly and refers back to the instant desserts and cider.

Suggestions for writing

Describe an incidentoccasion when you were in danger but didn't realise how serious the situation was until afterwards. Plan the story carefully by telling it to a partner first. Ask for feedback on how you could improve the exciting bits and build tension. Think carefully about the structure, your sentences and vocabulary. How will you let the reader know the full situation? How will you end it?

About the author

Neil Arksey says: "I write on a lap-top wherever I can find peace and quiet. My computer broke down when I was writing the final chapter of MacB.

I was staying in the Lake District, it was Christmas and there was no-one to repair it, so I finished the book on toilet paper with a stubby pencil.

I have been an actor and worked with Globe Education for a number of years.

It was while I was doing a workshop on the stage there with some students that I realised the story I was writing was a version of Macbeth, so I decided to make it even closer and called it MacB. I also write for television, including storylining the first 250 episodes of Crossroads. My experience comes into the stories: there's a fair bit of climbing in my new one, As Good as Dead in Downtown. I'm writing a new story, Brighton Rocks, for the Big Toe radio show."

Other books by Neil Arksey, include: Brooksie, a football story (TransworldRandom House) and Playing on the Edge (Puffin), which was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Prize.

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