They could be heroes

19th October 2007 at 01:00
Whether they are writing about a multi-faceted genius or a drill-wielding maniac, you should encourage their creativity, shouldn't you?Dear Bex,

Creative writing with Year 7. What could be nicer? Sermonising on the importance of character while my dutiful charges scribbled down my daring yet subtle insights. But I forgot. Gavin Baxendale was back from suspension. And 10 minutes later, I was crouched next to his desk trying to explain why a story about Hammer Man, a leather-clad antihero who hammers people's heads, was not going to win him the Booker Prize.

"But it's a character, Miss."

"It's not a character. You need to give him a personality trait. What's his motivation? Why does he feel the need to, um, hammer things?"

Gavin leant forward and tapped my arm. "He's got a hammer," he mouthed, as though he was explaining the internet to a backward grandma.

"Er, right. Well it's a bit one-note to be honest. Perhaps you should brainstorm a few other ideas."

"Claw Man."

"And he ...?"

"Bashes people to death with his giant metal claw."

"Not sure."

"Angry Drill Man?"

"Let me guess - he drills people to death."

"No. He teaches them how to use a drill. Then he punches them to death." Gavin looked pleased with himself. "You see, it's educational. He only punches them to death if they can't use a drill."

"Try again."

"Then how about Photocopy Man - he photocopies people to death."

"That's physically impossible."

"Not if the photocopier had a very heavy lid."

"What do you mean?"

"Well if the lid was made out of reinforced steel with metal spikes in it. Or if the ink was mixed with poison. Or if the photocopying cartridges were radioactive."

I chewed my pen for a moment. Then decided that, in its own way, this was quite creative.

Am waiting for the results of this groundbreaking literary experiment as I type. Promise to email it over asap.

Love Kate x.

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