Of Mice and Men – Creative Writing Exercise

Of Mice and Men – A Creative Writing Exercise

When looking on my ‘stats’ page, I noticed someone had put something specific into Google, or some other such search engine. What they had added in was “Of Mice and Men takes its title from an old Scottish poem. Use an idea from a poem [to create your own unique piece of writing].” The last part in brackets is a guess at what the end said for it faded out on my page.

This got me thinking, how would someone go about creating this piece of writing? It also got me thinking how that first choice would be made. The thing is, that there are millions of poems out there that you could choose. So, from a teacher’s perspective, I find this task very intriguing indeed.

So, how would you create this?

The answer is not that complicated,, especially if by now, you have pulled your hair out trying to figure it out. The first thing to do is choose the poem. You might be thinking that is easier said than done, but I would advise going with a favourite poem, or choosing what you would write about and then see if there is a poem out there to use for this purpose. The aim is NOT to write a story that follows the same plot of the poem.

So, if I was doing this, I would use this plan:

  1. Choose the poem – keep it simple; go for the famous poems.
  2. Notice that the task says use an idea, not a title, for your writing.
  3. When the theme is chosen, then plan the writing.
  4. Plan it paragraph by paragraph, writing the first line of each paragraph first.
  5. Then see how you can develop that into a completed task.
  6. Then write the thing in rough, or type it, to have a ‘first go’ at the thing.
  7. When you are done, revise it, making suitable changes, to improve it.
  8. And then, if it is to be a Controlled Assessment, create a plan from your writing.
  9. Now, you are ready to complete the thing on the day.

So, here are a few ideas off the top of my head.

  1. Sonnet 18 – A description of a beautiful summer’s day – your choice where.
  2. Hunchback in the Park – A Day In The Life Of……A Vagrant.
  3. Salome – A story that shows a passion from one person to the next.
  4. Futility – A monologue from the point of view of a soldier in the trenches. Do a German soldier to make it unique. Maybe involve the Christmas Day footie match? If it was me, I would have a story where a British soldier makes friends with a German soldier only to find they are related [this may have happened in my Grandfather’s Somme experience].
  5. Digging – Seamus Heaney poem about his father – write a letter from a father to a child. The Dad knows he is dying so he puts his feelings and emotions down for his child to read after he is dead. You give him some terminal illness and go from there.
  6. Praise Song for My Mother – now here is a chance to describe the person who has inspired you the most in your life, whoever that might be, male or female.

Choosing the poem might be as easy as looking through the anthology for a poem. If you choose a war poem, you can then go pro war or anti war. The choices are endless almost. When you have made that choice and the idea is blossoming in your mind, write a plan for the thing. Now the plan structure is up to you. I would write a list out of first lines. These would be first lines of each paragraph, so thinking logically is important here. 5 lines would do it, if you then write 2 paragraphs for each section, you would have 10 paragraphs. If each page has 3 paragraphs, that makes 4 sides of writing [just].

The rest is up to you. Try to use alliteration, similes, lots of adjectives, lots of colour, emotion, description. But above all, enjoy the creation of such a thing. If it is a story it needs to be in past tense [Sean saw no reason for worry]. If it is a description it is present tense [David is the most inspirational person I know….] and in both you can mix some future tense as well [he said he will see how things go before making a decision whether to kill the man or not].

Finally, there is only one thing to say; have some fun with this. If you have a wicked sense of humour, like me, this is where you can be ultra cheeky. Your favourite teacher can end up in your story, but as the villain of the piece, the killer, the stalker, the parasite on the prowl. Anything is possible. Just have fun. That is what writing is all about as far as this English teacher is concerned.

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