Springboarding #2

For those who do not know, I am a huge Doctor Who fan, or a Whovian, as they are known. I am not quite a Geek in the sense that I can tell you what happened in episode 6 of the Tom Baker episodes, or even, what Rose said in Chris Eccleston’s first episode when her Mum first saw the Doctor, in her flat, whilst in her night dress or robe. But, I love it to bits.

So imagine my delight when I saw on Facebook yesterday, the chance to write for the BBC via something called Mixital [link below at the end], a story concerning the Doctor [and Bill and Nardole, for those in the know]. They are asking for people to write their own stories, or screenplays. Indeed, they give you the format to use should you wish to get trapped into that style of writing.

I had to have a go!

But it reminded me of the term “Springboarding” that we use in teaching English and I know, or suspect, that I have done another post on this matter, on how to do it, somewhere on this site, hence the #2 label here.

So, what is springboarding again?

Simply put, it is where I [or the exam board] give you a start line, or an end line of a story. Sometimes, it can even be a picture and then you have to write something based on it. I love the ones where I give a single sentence and the students have to plan and write a story that ends with exactly the same line. It is a fabulous KS3 writing exercise so that by the time they get to KS4 and GCSE, it is second nature to them.

Well, this story that the BBC wanted us all to write got me thinking, as any good springboarding thing should. What is my favourite monster from the show? Add that in as the scary element. Then, tease the reader, by only giving them the first instalment. Better that way, to leave them thinking what will happen next? 

Now, I do have to confess something here. I did not ‘plan’ this using any technique. It just came straight out of me. I let my creative juices free and within 40 minutes, had written just over 1,000 words.

Here it is…..

The Visitor

Nardole was the first to notice that something very strange was happening. His senses began to tingle as he heard the faint noise coming from the Doctor’s study and as he pondered on what to do next, he then saw the foot prints trailing to the entrance door. But these were not ordinary footprints. These were footprints that trailed something else with them; small pools of water.       Something inexplicable was happening, or, as Nardole thought, the plumbing had gone, causing a minor flood somewhere; a student would be in there, moaning as usual. As he strode cautiously towards the door, he was then bombarded by a different sensation, a smell so wicked that even he, with his lack of sense of smell, was able to pick up on it. It was the unmistakable smell of fish, or salt water that somehow, had been left to go stagnant. Whatever was in that room was smelly and by the looks of the marks on the floor, a potential danger.
    “I think I should perhaps go and do something else,” he said, more to himself, trying to avoid what might become a tricky situation. And as he got to the door, he wished he hadn’t, for he was faced with a sight he had never seen before in his life, a sight so hideous that all of his senses became acutely aware of how terrible this was. Just as he was about to utter a stifled scream of terror, he heard that usual, quirky voice, telling him all was well.
    “Ahh, Nardole. Where have you been?” asked the Doctor. Nardole simply froze where he stood, a slight look of annoyance now forming on his face.
    “How am I supposed to know when there is something wrong, or when someone is here with you who may be dangerous, when you invite anyone in here?” Nardole was not pleased, but he quietened down at the thought that whatever this creature was was obviously not that dangerous.
     But what was it? What creature could stand there, dripping water, smelling like a stagnant pool and with a face that seemed to be nothing but eyes and gills? It was not a pretty sight at all and he reeled at the thought that he might have to get to know this one, or at least help him out.
     Was it a ‘him?’ He was not even sure of that now, but he relented long enough for the Doctor to tell him that this was a distant relative of a species he had encountered some time ago, in “another lifetime” he said. Nardole knew that that meant in another body, at another time back in the Time Lord’s existence, so he did not ask when and where and how. He just shrugged his shoulders and responded with a “Hi” that seemed half hearted in its extreme.
     “Nardole. Will you take this fellow down to the T.A.R.D.I.S for me and let him into one of the bathing areas please? He needs the water.”
     The Doctor never said “please” any more. It was a sign that all was not well but that he was being nice for a reason, hiding something from the creature, for now, avoiding the point or the opportunity for action by creating diversion. That was his usual way. And Nardole knew him well enough to agree and ask the visitor to follow him.
     “Walk this way,” he said, offering the Doctor a raised eyebrow and a smirk that suggested irony and a little bit of sarcasm, in an effort to lighten the situation. The creature followed, amiably enough, squelching as each foot hit the floor on the way out. For Nardole, it was a humorous moment in a stressful day. Working with the Doctor was beginning to pay its toll on him. Time, for him, was running out, but when would be the best time to leave the Doctor to someone else? That was his dilemma. That was his problem. That was the decision he would soon have to make.
     Just after this brief meeting, Bill walked in with her usual fresh expression of delight, offering the darkened room a little bit of light into the recesses of what had just gone before. She had seen Nardole heading off down the corridor, followed by someone she thought had some form of issue with his room in the halls of residence. That had to be the problem, so she did not ask.      “Hiya,” she offered, “How are things with you today?”
   The Doctor remained silent, as if he was in some form of trance, thinking things through; what is the next move? How does this situation resolve itself? With all these things rushing around inside his head, there was no wonder he was distracted, for his mind was racing with all sorts of possibilities.
    “Bill,” offered the Doctor.
    “Yeah, are we feeling tired or something,” she replied, “Because you are usually so much more bubbly than this, brighter if you know what I mean?”
    “Oh yeah, just fine. You know me. I battle all manner of aliens and always come out on top. A single Sea Devil is not going to worry me.”
    “Errr, what? Sea Devil? What’s one of them?” Bill was beginning to worry.
    “Oh, just someone I met a long time ago and who has now appeared again. You just missed him. He’s the one responsible for the water trails on the floor.”
     By now, Bill was officially intrigued. A real life Sea “Devil” to contend with. It was all too much for her to take, so she asked that fateful question.
    “Oo-kay,” she said, “I think. What is a Sea Devil and how do you know them?”
    This would be a long story, told in four sections, interjected by three terrifying moments at the hands of the Doctor and the mysterious visitor! By the end of the day, Bill would feel real terror, the sort that brings on the fight and flight sensation, the sort of experience she would never forget. If she thought robots with faces that projected emojis were strange, she would soon choose to opt for said robots over a Sea Devil, any day!

This is something that once I had the challenge and a thought about which monster to use, appeared in my mind, but the trick was to take every step as logical as possible. Yes, I had to start at the top, at the left and then indent every paragraph. That, as has been said on here many times, is how the marker will expect to see it in the exam. They will drop points if you leave 2 line gaps between paragraphs [as I am doing when typing here].

Yes, I had to use direct speech skills, like indenting speech, using the ” and the ” where necessary, along with the correct punctuation inside the speech marks. Note the full stops! But in the end, once I had those skills learnt, the writing of it was so much easier for me. That is why we try to teach you the skills needed, to make the exam writing easier and much more fun.


Yes, I believe you can have fun when you write. Whether you are doing AQA or Edexcel or OCR, all of which I have seen their sample material, they all seem to be veering towards the use of free writing [stories] in their creative section of the exam.

So, if you get the chance to write something creative on June 6th, let the creative juices free to flow. Free your mind enough to be able to be as creative as possible, so that you can write something that is not only good, but accurate also. You never know, it might be the difference between a 4 [low C of old] and a 5, or even a 6 [B of old].

Happy writing!

For the Mixital link, see here: https://www.mixital.co.uk/channel/doctor-who-fanfiction