“How does one describe expressions on a character’s face?”
“How do you get ideas for writing stories?”
“Is it essential that each story have major, supporting and minor characters?”
“How would you feel if you had written the Harry Potter books?”
Dear reader, these rapid fire queries have not been unleashed by seasoned scribes or hard core researchers. These have been fired by pristine and pure minds, which have not seen more than ten summers in their young lives.
Amazed, astounded and astonished?!! Let me explain.
I had been invited to attend the Ghumakkad Narain Travelling Children’s Literature Festival held at Dehradun, recently. The festival, was organized by NGOs – Nivesh and Himalayan Hub for Art and Cultural Heritage (HHACH) – under the aegis of UNESCO.
As a part of the festival I conducted a Creative Writing Workshop for children at Heritage School, Dehradun.
I told the kids a tale and followed it up by giving inputs on the art of writing a story. I explained to them the basic elements of a story which include - Idea, Plot, Character View point, Setting, Style, Language, Dialogues and Target audience. I also discussed the skills needed to become an effective writer. This was followed by the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ with the young ones grilling me on topics ranging from the art and craft of writing to facets of my autobiography. Their creativity, inventiveness, wit and wisdom left me wondering whether it was me or they who were conducting the workshop!!
Later, addressing another session at the Government School, Majra, I told the children, who belonged to an even younger age group, a humorous story about animals caught in a ‘here and now’ situation.
The kids who were from a less privileged background delighted me with their spontaneity and enthusiasm.
At Bhubaneswar I was invited by Sai International School to conduct a Creative Writing Workshop. While the ambience of the school was awesome, the response of the kids was mind blowing. After I elaborated on the elements of fiction and told my tale I gave them four topics to write. 40 minutes later there was literally a mini-stamped with the kids jostling each other for a chance to read their story and analyze their schoolmates’ creativity.
The stories which were presented were excellent, in terms of creativity and imagination as well as style and substance. Here too, I was interrogated on various aspects of storytelling. However, what I enjoyed most was being mobbed by kids for autographs. Armed with sheets of paper, registers, notebooks and even chits they came in droves asking for my signature. While some where seeking my ‘scribble’ for themselves, several others wanted to gift my sign to their friends! It was a heady feeling and I felt like nothing less than a rock star!
Earlier, I conducted a workshop at Bakul Foundation, a leading Bhubaneswar based NGO devoted to, among other issues, the welfare of children. The workshop was organized under the aegis of Ankita Panda Foundation. Ankita Panda, a name familiar to the readers of Bolokids, is the inspiration behind the Foundation which seeks to nourish and nurture creativity in children.
In the workshop children from various schools, in the age group 10 to 15 participated. After my storytelling and discussion regarding the elements of fiction the children were given topics to write a story. The kids later read out their stories and we had a great time in discussing them. Participation certificates were also given to all participants on behalf of Ankita Foundation.
To sum up, my experience with travels and tails was a unique one which will remain with me for a long, long time. The inquisitive, innovative, energetic and enthusiastic kids made me believe in the magic of tomorrow all over again.