Today in Dinosaurs and Dragons, I gave the class a supposition as the starting point for a story. It was:
Suppose you are a group of city dwellers from Babel. Your language has been changed and you don’t want to hang around any of the other groups anymore. You start out for a new home, but don’t know where you are going or really how to get there. Where would you stop to make a home?
We got three suggestions: volcano, caves, or trees. The class voted and trees won.
Then suppose you ran into a dinosaur. What would you call it? What would it look like?
We came up with a five foot long, without its tail, flying black carnivore with red eyes which could spit flames. Pointy teeth. No horns, no plates, but snake type skin.
I told them it was a bit dangerous to have flying flame throwers attacking a group of people who lived in trees.
We discussed that.
I gave everyone a profession. Some of the kids did not like their professions. I tried to be fairly realistic, but we didn’t have a lot of choices that I was coming up with anyway.
Then we worked out a story plot. We had Bob, a small child, who ran into the first Monstrous Serpent. We had Trevor, the guard, kill it.
Then we discussed how the whole group would be attacked. We had a lot of ideas. One was that the MS would be hewn with a sword. I nixed that one. One was the MS would not be dead and would squeal and its parents would come. I thought the parents were okay, but didn’t like the squeal.
So I told the kids about a wasp and how when it is killed violently it releases a chemical into the air that other wasps can smell and they hone in on the scent and attack the killer. I thought the parents of the thing could do that.
But the kids suggested that rather than the parents, a whole swarm of the MS should show up, just as if they were wasps.
So we had our beginning conflict. And we kept going from there.
I was excited about the idea and I came home and worked on the story for two hours. It is ten pages long, each of the boys in the class, all thirteen, are named in the story at least seven times. I did change some of the action proposed.
Originally Trevor was going to die. He didn’t like that idea. So then he was going to be set on fire but stop, drop, and roll. However, since he’s the one who kills the first MS, I didn’t want too much of him. For example, even taking that part out and giving it to two other boys, Trevor is still mentioned in the story 17 times, because he’s the one who watches the kids, finds Bob, and rescues him, killing the first MS.
I split up the heroism of the fire by having Michael fire the first arrow at the swarm and Austin knock him out of the way of a flame. Austin gets caught and he stops, drops, and rolls.
I actually like the story. I titled it “The Lay of the Monstrous Serpent” but since a lay is a poem, that was a problem. I changed it to “The Chronicle of the Monstrous Serpent.” It’s old fashioned in its language, just a bit, but I think it’s pretty good. It wouldn’t work as a publishable story because one whole page is spent on the listing of the boys in the class and their made-up families. And if you didn’t have that, how would you know who the characters were? Although it might not matter for some of them.
Anyway, I think the boys will love it. I’m going to take it to class next week and read it to them and see what they think. I’m going to try to get some suggestions on improvements, but I don’t know if I will. Of course, I wouldn’t have thought of the swarm of the things, so that was one place where they improved on their own ideas even over what I would have done.
Oh yeah, I also put a class joke in the story. One of our kids loves Leviathan, so he talks about it in the story.
It’s a very personal story for the group, although their characters don’t necessarily match the professions they got. Maybe I could trade some of them around.