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Advice to DC in Y8

(18 Posts)
NorhamGardens Mon 29-Nov-10 10:18:32

A DC of mine has been advised to 'avoid lots of conversation. It is boring and difficult to set out.'

This advice given to the class for English essays particularly with reference to exams. DC has copied this into their book and several other 'rules' quoted to class by the teacher.

LondonMother Mon 29-Nov-10 10:48:24

I doubt Evelyn Waugh would have passed muster with that teacher, then!

NorhamGardens Mon 29-Nov-10 11:03:13

. I am sure I would have done better if teachers hadn't pointed out things were 'difficult'.

Just sounds rather negative and a bit odd to me?

A few other pearls of wisdom from the teacher:

Remember to make your story a possible one.

(J.K. Rowling wouldn't agree.)

Be very careful about your humour. What is funny to your age group may well be irritating to the examiner.

(I see what the teacher is driving at but again sounds a bit limiting and restricting.)

Perhaps I am in a picky mood today

webwiz Mon 29-Nov-10 11:03:37

Conversation is quite difficult to do well in a story but I wouldn't describe it as boring. Perhaps the teacher would be better teaching them how to do it well rather than banning it hmm

webwiz Mon 29-Nov-10 11:08:33

I would say that most of DS's (year 9) stories are not possible and he uses quite a bit of humour that sometimes works very well and other times not so much. English is his best subject and the teachers comments on his work steer him in the right direction rather than laying down blanket rules. Unfortunately the problem with rules is while they might be helpful at a particular point kids find it difficult to move on from them.

NorhamGardens Mon 29-Nov-10 11:08:39

I rather think they are doubting DC's ability so trying to get them & peers to stick with an easier, less risky method to gain a good grade.

Goingspare Mon 29-Nov-10 11:08:58

We were told to avoid writing fiction altogether in our 'O' level English and to stick to descriptive writing, in case we ran out of time before we could conclude the story.

Practical but defeatist, and DC in primary schools seem to be expected to to knock out a short story in about 20 mins. now.

MyBrilliantCareer Sat 04-Dec-10 23:11:42

As an English teacher I'd say too much conversation in a story definitely makes it boring. It's the hallmark of crappy fiction.

Descriptive language is what will make a piece of fiction good, which too much conversation doesn't give space for.

Also, it may be that the teacher wrote it about being possible (I have written things like that before) is because the story might start out in a genre that is meant to be realistic and then all of a sudden aliens appear with machine guns and everyone dies except for one boy who gets shot in the eye but he fights on but then the aliens' enemy comes to earth as well and .....

Do you see my point? grin

basildonbond Sat 04-Dec-10 23:37:07


ds1 has a real flair for writing - not just doting parent thinking so, he's won short story competitions and always has outstanding grades for English (not for much else mind you) - and one of the things which sets his writing apart is his use of dialogue. So I'd say that done well, conversation will gain marks rather than lose them, so sounds like a pretty stupid rule to me ...

MyBrilliantCareer Sat 04-Dec-10 23:41:26

I'm not saying that dialogue is bad. It can be used very skilfully.

But poor writers who depend on it to tell a story end up writing a very boring story. And, hate to say it, but it's a trick that kids come up from primary school with, and it's generally done poorly.

Obviously, without seeing an example, none of us know what the quality of the writing is.

freerangeeggs Sun 05-Dec-10 00:08:42

Not that we're teaching to the test or anything...

I'm an English techer and it does sound rather odd. I see what she's getting at and why she's doing it, but it seems a shame, really.

freerangeeggs Sun 05-Dec-10 00:09:21


Clearly not a very good one grin

GrimmaTheNome Sun 05-Dec-10 00:26:17

The teacher wouldn't have approved of Lewis Carrol either:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

>Remember to make your story a possible one
How stifling - what is necessary though (and hard for many youngsters to achieve I suppose) is that if you create a fantasy it must be internally consistent - so you get Hogwarts or Discworld, not the sort of mishmash MyBrilliantCareer rightly warns against.

MyBrilliantCareer Sun 05-Dec-10 10:54:33

"Avoid lots of conversation" is what the teacher wrote. To be fair I don't think the teacher was saying avoid all conversation - and in the Lewis Carroll excerpt (what a great story!) the conversation actually adds to the story and it isn't too much either.

fivecandles Sun 05-Dec-10 16:24:59

As an English teacher I would also agree with this advice. Young or poor writers quite often drift into a sort of play script without any appropriate dramatic conventions and when they are actually trying to write a story. I wouldn't tell students to avoid fantasy completely but I can see why a teacher might do this for one particular task. Again fantasies tend to end up writing in a very formulaic and boring way often ending with 'and then I woke up to discover it was all a dream' or some sort of gruesome blood bath in the case of some boys (however the story had started out).

MrsColumbo Sun 05-Dec-10 16:40:27

Fivecandles definitely agree with the utter cop-out that is the 'it was all just a dream' ending. And just for the record, I don't give a toss what a particular character is listening to on their ipod! (and I may even deduct marks if it's Lady Gaga)

tabulahrasa Mon 06-Dec-10 07:58:09

I'd say it was pretty good advice - for exams

even the best writer is going to struggle to come up with an idea and sparkling dialogue in such a limited time period

strawberrycake Mon 06-Dec-10 08:11:08

Maybe, like me, she has too read one too many stories where the Transformers/ Pokemon interrupt the Blitz/ A Roman invasion grin

It;s starter advice
step 1: Learn the rules
step 2: learn how to break them

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