ESL Writer’s Workshop
Writing by participating in a collaborative team. This will develop basic sentence structure expecially in English common vernacular (how natives write/speak). The prime activity is much like a conversation in a chat room but we will be taking on roles and effectively writing a script. The class product will look very similar to a play or TV show script.
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The simplest way to explain the idea is to show you. After this overview, you will see the discussion on Skype (it was cleaned up just as we will be cleaning up future discussions/collaborative writings) at the bottom of this page. Shradha is the first ESL friend I introduced the idea to. Basically we are talking about getting together and creating somehting like a movie or TV drama script. Each week we will meet to have a session which will rough out a given chapter or episode. This is called “The Production”.
Prior to a given meeting (episodic writing), there will be a Pre-production meeting of members to map out and outline the following Production meeting. After each Production there will be a Post-production meeting to clean things up and perform additional functions as we define them.
As we gain momentum there will be more students than can be accommodated in the script. This will be the point when individual interests will fill the additional production team positions.
The following is an example of how a normal writing/chat session would develop.
Once upon a time…
Shradha- Aaaw, that really sounds like the hall of fame! Let me know how I could tame my dragon!
George- 1st step is recognizing that there are such things as Dragons
Shradha- I’m all game!
George- 2nd step is naming it, this is harder than it sounds.
Shradha- Hmmm… naming the dragon?
George- You have a long way to go little sister, if you wish to be a Dragon Slayer. But I do sense a strong warrior heart in you, if you truly wish to, you can learn these things.
George- Wanna write a book? This is a great start!
Shradha- I really wanna!
George- The book would be a simple as the conversation we just started. An Indian Princess (and others who join us on our journeys) who would learn to fight dragons for herself and her kingdom. (The underlying mega story is how anyone can overcome fears, etc. and particularly learning English but that would never be said).
Shradha- Terrific idea!
George- It would be a youth oriented fantasy story but it would be a way to enter the psyche of all ages. You would simply be the young sage also a princess and I the old battle weary knight who would pass on the secrets I have learned and my observations concerning your paradigm. But I would also learn from the naive wisdom of a child.
Shradha- Really awesome!!!!!
George- Then you shall be my Shield Maiden apprentice and we shall see where our travels take us.
Shradha- Sure George!
George- SIR George, in this tale. It does demand more respect from an apprentice, you know.
Shradha- Yes your highness!
George- Even a princess must show respect to her mentor. Just Sir George, not royalty….. it is going to take some time to get you trained.
Shradha- Yes Sir George, I’m looking forward to it!!!
Chapter 1 (1st go Production)
Saint George- I am looking for a travel companion who will cook food and clean my armor, nothing more. If you prove to be as worthy as your royal heritage and strong heart, then we shall see….
Princess Shradha- Aye aye!
Saint George- Aye, Aye… Sir!
Princess Shradha- OOPS! Aye, aye, sir
Saint George- Have you traveling clothes and weapons?
Princess Shradha- Oh yes, and riding outfits! Or shall we take a carriage?
Saint George- No, dear one. We shall be taking LPC’s and don’t bother with any heavy items, you will be carying much of my burden so you need not bring much. But bring whatever is most dear and valuable.
Princess Shradha- LPC’s? And gems?
Saint George- Leather Princess Conveyors (shoes) and the things that hold your memories… tear vials, talismans and touchstones.
Princess Shradha- Shoes, you must be kidding, we have far to go! And what are the other things you speak of? I have a ruby encrusted daggar.
Saint George- Yes, shoes. Where we go and the paths we take, unfortunately there is no other option. You make bring your weapon but I doubt we will have use of it, unless for cooking. The weapons we use lie within a special part of your brain and heart. The devices they reveal will be readily at hand when needed.
Princess Shradha- Very well then. This is a strange adventure indeed! I feel mixed up inside but I sense that you are a knight to be reckoned with. So, do you wish to go this coming spring when travel is faster?
Saint George- There may be hope for you yet, but no waiting. The calling is heavy upon me and when you learn to listen, you will understand that you and your kingdom have little time left. Go home now and tell your parents you have been apprenticed and must go on a journey. They will have reservations as you are of royal blood. Don’t tell them that you hope to be a dragon slayer. They would not hear of it. Just tell them to trust you. Then patiently wait for them to come around. Do not argue, or wine, just wait. When they realize your resolve they will give their permission. Do NOT leave until they give their blessing. I will explain that another time.
Princess Shradha- ummm.. George, I didn’t quite understand that… mind explaining?
Saint George- You are slipping out of character already. You are a very young princess who wishes to learn to be a dragon slayer. This conversation is in character… hello?
Princess Shradha- Yeah.. I know that! I guess gotta digest this stuff… ill come back stronger sir!!!
Director’s note to Princess Shradha: You are now running home with a great adventure ahead of you. Your heart is bursting with anticipation. You do not understand many things nor exactly what the old knight told you. But you are sure it is right because you feel empowered and on the bud of something special… becoming an adult and the mystery that is becoming a woman and Queen one day. All of this is too much to process but it is thrilling and scary at the same time. You just run as hard as you can and hope that it isn’t a dream……….
Post production discussion
Shradha- I will make a great study of this dragon slaying business!
George- But only the most trusted partisans can learn this, they must be able to withstand torture and not share it.
Shradha- What kinda torture?
George- I don’t know. I only know our forms of torture when we capture an academic and try to break them down. It is very cruel,to them, but does work. Things like extended group hugs, tickle fights and such. They use things like boredom, posture and rote recitals to break people down… or so I am told.
Shradha- ‘We’… who else and how many are a part of this journey?
George- Even I do not know how many of us, there are. We set up independent cells. If any of us are captured, we cannot give away other cells. All of us live our life in story and journey towards an unknown future. Don’t you watch any movies? Oh, that’Shradha right you watch Bollywood. You have an incomplete education.
Shradha- Oh God, no! No Bollywood for me!
George- Do you ever type a sentence without an exclamation point?
Shradha- I can be a great dragon slayer, or shield maiden, or whatever.
George- Yes, my apprentice, you have much to learn. Said the old Knight as he folded his mantle over the battered and tarished armor he wore…….
Shradha- Awesome, I love that!
George- Just a reminder…. There is a mega story that lies behind all of these sub plots we weave. That is the spiritual realm and our inner most being. In story we must touch on these deep unifying themes. The story that we create are weak shadows of in our imaginings and yearnings. It is not my role to preach or direct ones inner journey. But, we should also seek the ultimate story, of redemption and reunification with our ultimate-inner self. To effect a sustainable story, we will constantly be touching on themes that, in allegory, can illuminate our greatest quest. That of the hero’s journey.
Editing, adding pictures and maps, live recording with perfromers, etc.