The Key to Writing a Good Plot

A good plot is crucial to a good composition.

Unfortunately, it isn’t something that a child can improve on like they can for language, where memorising better vocabulary, or collecting good phrases and drilling on grammar rules will help boost their score.

The good news, however, is that there is a strategy to guide most students into a well-developed plot. Take heart also, that most children are generally brimming with ideas. Overflowing with them, actually. The real tricky bit is getting them to do two things: organise their thoughts and making it realistic.

To do so, we suggest guiding children this way:

Step One: Analyse

Step Two: Plan

Analysing: Read the question and observe the pictures provided carefully.
Primary compositions require students to respond to the question by writing about one or more of the pictures provided. Get your child to think about the picture and how it relates to the question. With each picture, ask your child to think about what they see in the picture, and how he or she can relate it to the question.
Planning: Developing the story mountain
A big issue with most students when it comes to composition writing is going out of point. To avoid this, we need to encourage students to plan. At Cognitus Academy, we do this in terms of a story mountain.

There are five steps to the story mountain:

  • Introduction
  • Rising Action
  • Climax
  • Falling Action
  • Conclusion

We teach children to plan their plot in this format to be able to place the right emphasis and development at the right time and in the right place of their composition.

Remember that a lot of students have issue with organisation and logic in their stories. Timing and sequence, for example, can lead to major plot holes in a good number of compositions. This is normal, as most children do not have a good sense of time and order. Morning can suddenly turn to night in two hours, and months can somehow metamorphosise into years.

A solid story mountain helps with that by placing an event or incident at a specific point: the introduction, the rising action, the climax, falling action, or the conclusion; and this helps as a guide to appropriate sequencing and pacing.

What if my child has no imagination?
Good planning aside, if your child falls into the category where he struggles to even think of a plot, here are some things that you can do to help him or her along the way.

One way will be to borrow another writer’s imagination. Reading naturally, will only be of benefit when it comes to helping your child in his or her writing. This after all, is rather how inspiration works – seeing an idea (or in this case reading about it) and then adapting it and making it one’s own.

Which brings us to: television. In this case, television isn’t a bad thing. It helps stimulate the most uninspired of imaginations. When events unfold on screen, they fill up a spot in your child’s imagination that will help when it comes to writing a good story at school.

A lot of children’s ideas for writing come from their life experiences. As parents, we can do our part to enrich that as much as we can. The compositions that children are required to write at the primary level are largely narratives, and narratives require a great deal of thoughts, feelings and actions in them. It can be difficult for your child to channel this and describe it in his stories if his real-life experiences are somewhat limited.

Don’t panic – this doesn’t mean that we should start signing our children up for every adventure near and far that we can think of. Remember that what your child simply needs, is a model to base the emotions that take place in his story on. So, the next time you’re out with your child – it doesn’t have to be somewhere exciting like to the zoo or on a cable car ride – on a trip to the supermarket, or when you take them to school will do just fine; look and point out real world situations to them.

Take the morning peak hour traffic, for instance, with a long line of cars filled with parents waiting to drop their children off at school. Ask your child to imagine how he would feel if he were late, or to observe the sights and sounds that surround that situation.

It’s all a matter of helping your child identify the feelings and naming them, because this will help him in describing it on paper when the time comes.

Cognitus Academy holds several writing workshops and classes designed not only to train your child on how to develop and write a unique and solid plot, but also to make use of language devices to carry that forward. These techniques will help them in the PSLE English examinations. We’re located conveniently with centres in the central and east of Singapore, so call us today and find out how we can help you now!

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