What are the Seven Steps?
Think of them as the building blocks to great writing. Isolating writing skills into individual steps ensures students don’t get ‘bogged down’ with writing the whole piece. They gain confidence in each building block, and then they pull it all together to become creative and engaging writers.
- Step 1: Plan for Success
- Step 2: Sizzling Starts
- Step 3: Tightening Tension
- Step 4: Dynamic Dialogue
- Step 5: Show, Don’t Tell
- Step 6: Ban the Boring
- Step 7: Exciting Endings/Ending with Impact
Check out each of the Seven Steps below and see how together they lay the foundations in creating an engaging story in any form – written, spoken or even visual.
Step 1: Plan for Success
How many times have you told your students ‘plan your work’ – and they ignore you? The biggest hurdle is to show thinking is far more important than physically writing. To be original you need to have LOTS of ideas, so brainstorm and practice generating ideas often.
A joke, a movie, a TV sitcom, a book and a great story – what do they all have in common? They all follow the same ‘story graph’. Start with a bang, slowly build up the tension and end on a real high point.
Best of all, we give you all the tools your students will need to do this.
Step 2: Sizzling Starts
Do you get the same old starts, ‘One day… Once upon a time… I think that… In my opinion…’ over and over again? Teach students how to start at the ‘moment of change’ to gain a reader’s interest immediately.
Start where the action is. Not at the beginning of the day where nothing is happening. Begin when the volcano starts oozing lava or as you walk in the door to the big disco competition.
Unlock the simplest and most fun of all the Seven Steps. Head to the Sizzling Starts Homepage and explore the theory, samples and Action Activities that can transform your writing classrooms in as little as 5 minutes a day.
Step 3: Tightening Tensions
You must believe the hero (male or female) will fail. The tornado is too strong, the villain is too evil, the black forces of depression are too overwhelming. Yet, through strength, talent and determination, somehow our hero wins.
To persuade (not just set out facts) you have to build up momentum. Start strong, but save your best arguments and persuasive techniques for near the end.
Step 4: Dynamic Dialogue
Think of dialogue as a mini play in the story. Let your characters walk, talk or even stalk – that’s how we get to know them.
Quotations from experts, real words from a flood victim, concise sayings from famous people, even words from the people in your article (‘I thought I was going to die from fear…’) give strength and vibrancy to writing.
Step 5: Show, Don't Tell
If I tell you I am generous, do you believe me??? No way. But if I buy all 20 raffle tickets to help cancer research, are you more convinced? Actions really do speak louder than words.
If you were told children were dying from lack of clean water, would you send money? Most likely not. However, if you were shown one small skinny child, squatting by a polluted river, exhausted, hungry, and desperately needing water… would you help?
Step 6: Ban the Boring
Everyone gets up, gets dressed, travels to school…it’s not exactly exciting. So why write about it? Ban all mention of the ‘boring B’ words – bed, breakfast and bus trips. Think like the movies, the heroes never travel, they just arrive…
The first ideas are usually the worst – as everyone else is thinking of them too. Challenge students to be better than basic. They can be brilliant, not boring.
Step 7: Exciting Endings
Would you tell a joke without knowing the punch line? If you want to build to a big climax you have to know where you are heading.
First lines and last lines are what people remember the most. ‘In conclusion, I think…’ is writing by numbers. Be powerful in order to persuade.