Hogwarts pedigree…

Harry Potter and the…million movies was filmed in Alnwick Castle, Northumberland in the UK. Turns out my mother lived in Alnwick and went to the Duchess’ Finishing School; the school was within the walls of the castle. Now I may not be a maths teacher, but by my calculations, a parental Visa and a flourish of the wand, I’m qualified to write this article.

J.K Rowling’s journey from a broke, destitute single mother in Scotland is a triumph of adversity. She backed herself. A marriage that lasted less time than the first film and struggling to survive, she had a head full of magic and a desire to get it on paper. So how does J.K Rowling or George R.R Martin bring the richness and vivacity of their worlds to life? How do they begin an epic adventure and in which direction does their character first travel? Students and amateur writers face the same dilemma, and it happens far more often than you think. Sitting in an Edinburgh café writing the first of her classic novels, she did what every writer has to do – just start. And maybe there was an unusual aperitif on the café menu…

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time!

For every detail of the whomping tree, living portraits and grand staircase within Hogwarts it was a triumph of achievement. She was writing for herself. Between raising a toddler, studying, and working in education she kept it going, from that very first day the idea came to her on a Manchester train. Not being judged, criticised, and told it wouldn’t work. Like many authors she would have been happy to just create something of her own. One word at a time. One sentence at a time.

David Morell is one of the worlds foremost action writers and author of ‘The Successful Novelist’. He believes we all have a novel in us. For me, that is a bit much to eat right now, I don’t quite have the appetite for the aforementioned elephant. Maybe just a wing…or a leg. Most students are the same. In fact, most people are, but David Morrell’s advice is no less applicable. Write one page a day and on this day next year you will have a 365-page novel. Easy. Right?

I tried this technique and it worked brilliantly for the first week. Reasonably well for the second and died in week three. And I have some skill and qualifications in writing. It should have been easier for me. It wasn’t. It was a chore! It soon moved on from a labour of love to just plain old hard labour – sentenced to 1 year. No early release, no parole. My elephant meal would be fly blown by the time I finished it. So why didn’t it work for me?

I cannot write novels. I also don’t have any desire to. I love to entertain through teaching, storytelling, speaking and short story format. Which is why my techniques and teaching are so well suited to this format, and anything that is involved in High School and Tertiary level education. I am also comfortable with the fact that whilst I may have a collection of publish short stories one day, I am unlikely to be rubbing dust jackets with John Grisham this Christmas. It took a while, but I am comfortable with that, and I don’t judge myself or my self-worth by that metric. In fact, it is quite acceptable for me to order a ¼ elephant and chips now, or simply leave the portion I am not hungry for. We all have different appetites, but the analogy is the same. Just start with a bite. See if you like the taste, then have another. You do NOT have to have all 7 Harry Potter novels mapped out from day dot. It also won’t get you that high mark in High School.

Crime Story uses the same methodical approach as David Morrell. It is also the same methodical approach that Detectives and Forensic analysts do when working a crime. One bite at a time. Work the crime. Use the process. Record the details. Ask the questions. Simple, your elephant degustation is now a 3-course meal in small bite size pieces. Faced with a life size photographed crime scene backdrops measuring 6 x 2 metres, our screens contain details of crime scenes loaded with potential evidence. Match that with real exhibits to ‘work’ and you have a hands-on experience that guarantees better writing… and a lot of fun. Open the forensic tool kit and brush the dichromatic dust to reveal the fingerprints. Swab the DNA, bag the evidence, check prints, retrieve CCTV footage, pick the safe and interview real-life witnesses. Now describe just ONE of these processes. To build confidence we even give you a simple template to follow (within your Confidential File of course!). Talk to your Detective partner about what you think happened. Record it. Guess what? That is dialogue! Simple and so on, over several sequences to build a small story. We even kit you up with everything you will need for ongoing success, any genre, and style, any format. It just works. Crime Story will have you solving crimes and creating narrative in no time.

Engage, Inspire…Create

Luke Taylor

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