Kids had a wonderful time penning stories and making them come to life with their illustrations at the workshop held during the Lit for Life festival in New Delhi.

All of us love reading and listening to stories. But have you ever tried writing your own story? Do you know what goes into writing one? Recently Scholastic in association with The Hindu Lit for Life festival held a workshop titled Children of the Lamp, for kids to understand the nuances of story writing. The workshop held at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi, saw close to 40 students participate.

Anushka Ravishankar started the day by reading three pieces and the kids were asked if they sounded like stories. The children felt that the first was straightforward prose, the second was not interesting as the story did not have too much conflict but the third one was perfect as it had a distinct conflict.

A problem or a conflict is much needed for a story, says Anushka. The centre of any plot is its conflict that characters solve. Second, what makes a story interesting are its characters. A character could be human, non-human and even a monster. A character should have special characteristics and the kids were asked to come up with one character. They were asked to describe who the character was, how it moves, special characteristics they would like to describe, what the character likes, dislikes and what it is afraid of.

Anushka also described how different stories have different characters who influence the story. For example if a character is afraid of the dark then darkness and light would be used to take the story forward. She used the example of “Finding Nemo” and how Nemo behaved the way he did because he had an over-protective father. So even the kind of adventures he had was because of his lack of confidence, his fears and his feelings.

Another important component of a story is setting and language. She emphasised how one should refrain from using “Once upon a time”, “one day” and instead use an action, description of a scene or dialogue to start a story. You should imagine a story in your head, she said.

They were asked to write out a setting, an object and one character. These slips of paper were then shuffled and passed around. Each participant was asked to write a story using the given slip. Though they were taken by surprise it encouraged them to think out of the box and have fun while making connections using non connected elements. It was easy and by lunch time students came up with well structured, funny and coherent stories integrating all elements taught to them.

DHRUV CHANDRA, III, The Shriram School, Delhi: I love writing so I wanted to take part in this workshop. They taught us to illustrate too. I wrote a story and liked it. We loved the lunch and snacks too.

JAI SURYAKADIYAN, II, Heritage School, Delhi: My mom saw it on a website and asked me if I wanted to be there. We drew and coloured. And we told a story

DEVANSHI DHAR, III, Tagore International School, Delhi: What was very different in this workshop is also the reason why I loved attending it. We were asked to imagine and that is what is needed for us to be creative. I not only made some friends but wrote a story and will keep at it from now on.

SANAYA DUTT, III, The Shriram School, Vasanth Vihar: I love taking part in workshops especially story writing ones, we learnt how to illustrate. I loved the fact that we got to learn so many new things besides the usual drawing and painting.

VANI, AASTHA and SAMHITHA said they loved writing stories. This was a good exercise for us as we got to know how to start writing a story, how to integrate conflict in a story to make it interesting and the technique of using problem and solution and fleshing out of characters. The most necessary elements needed to bind a plot into a story was taught to us and we are happy to be a part of this.

Draw your story

Here's what Atanu Roy, children's book illustrator, had to say: The workshop experience was tiring and chaotic but we all had a ball! The 40 kids were all high on energy and enthusiasm. The age group was mostly seven to ten years. The noise levels were phenomenal, and it was an exhilarating experience. We were trying to get the children to understand the process of writing and illustrating a children's book.

We got each of them to write a story, and then asked them to illustrate it. Some of them were of course too young to understand the process, but many of them grasped it immediately. I gave them pointers on illustrations, making some illustrations on the spot. Something like this takes time to explain and we of course had limited time. The kids were impatient to get to the colouring and painting and many of them finished the story and illustrations very quickly.

I drew cartoons and funny faces for them, something they really seemed to enjoy.