Friday, July 10, 2015

Stuff My Kids Say XV

"Where do they come up with these ideas? I try to write and all I think up is foxes and dragons!"

Nat - age 10, after watching yet another new creature in Doctor Who. 

Nat started writing stories in fourth grade. She was not a fan of writing until her teacher used her aversion to pen and paper as the impetus to starting a writing club. Nat and her teacher would take turns writing a story, each writing a paragraph or a page and then handing the story to the other to write the next part. This personal attention and enthusiasm about writing sparked her creative nerve and she hasn't stopped writing since.

Her love of reading is well documented, as is her attraction to dragons and fantasy stories. So naturally, we started watching Doctor Who this past year. She has made it through three doctors so far, and just getting started with a fourth, and every episode, she is engaged and amazed by the new story lines the show introduces. Each of the creatures, aliens, monsters, companions, planets, doctors... are different.

She can watch a metal man terrorize a shopping mall in one episode, and a space whale fly a city in the next. We've seen killer crab creatures, werewolves of London, and intelligent ice. With stories that cross all of space and time, the limits on the show are only bounded by the writers' imaginations. So, after hearing this amazement in Nat's voice, we played a little game of brain storming that I stole just a little from her teacher's writing club.

I asked her to think of a character, any kind, and to just give me the first two features that came to her mind. I then added two of my own. Then it was her turn again. We went back and forth like this until we had fleshed out a character that was more than just dragon or fox. It had a name, it had an origin, it had features and powers and desires. It was the foundation for a story, if she wanted it. Godzilla heard us going around and around, and wanted in on the action. Once Nat and I were done with her creature, he and I set about making up another, just as detailed, just as fantastic, just as much pure imagination. 

And this is what I love about sharing my day with them. There is so much imagination in the mind of a child just waiting to be engaged. It is ripe for the picking if only you take the time to take hold of the fruit and pull. Sometimes our imaginations get bogged down with the things we already know, but stretch it out a little, and the whole world is your canvas.

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