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Achievement Standard 2.1 Produce crafted and developed creative writing Credits: 3
“Unleashing the shark”
The following guidelines are supplied to enable teachers to carry out valid and consistent assessment using this internal assessment resource. Context/setting: This resource may be used as part of a writing unit. Students will develop a piece of writing that focuses on describing the build up of tension to an action scene. It takes place over a very limited space of time. Conditions: This activity should be worked on in class under teacher supervision to ensure authenticity. Teachers may guide students actively through the initial tasks. Teachers may demonstrate how the techniques used in the samples in the activity can be applied to the students’ own writing. As students develop their final drafts, teachers can offer appropriate guidance that the writing may need further work on ideas, language, structure or accuracy in spelling, punctuation or paragraphing. Teachers may not correct errors, rewrite sentences or suggest specific ideas. Students should have access to dictionaries to check their writing. Word processing is acceptable providing it is done under teacher supervision. Resource requirements: Video clip (Jurassic Park)
ENGLISH Level Two Achievement Standard 90375 (2.1) Produce crafted and developed creative writing Credits: 3 Unleashing the Shark
Student Instructions Sheet
Most of us love action scenes at the movies. However, when you look closely at the way a tense action scene is developed, you notice that a lot of the time goes into building up the tension and much less into the action itself. When Steven Spielberg was first offered the screenplay for Jaws, he said he would direct the movie on one condition: that he didn't have to show the shark for the first hour. By slowly building the audience's apprehension, he felt, the shark would be much more impressive when it finally arrived. The same can be said for good writing. In this activity you will develop a piece of writing (at least 400 words) where you create tension to build up to a moment of high drama or action. Before you begin writing, you will look at a video clip of a scene involving tense build up. You will look at the way the director uses visual and sound techniques to create tension and then see how these can be exchanged for written techniques in a story. You will be assessed on how well you developed and sustain your ideas your ability to craft your writing to create tension appropriate to your topic how you structure your writing to build up tension your accuracy in spelling, punctuation, grammar and paragraphing.
Task 1: Watch a video clip a) Watch the three minute scene from Jurassic Park where the children Lex and Tim are trapped in a jeep during a storm. The Tyrannosaurus Rex breaks through the security system and attacks the jeep. Spielberg has put a lot more than action into this clip to create tension. Watch the clip for a second time and as you watch, complete the grid on the following page.
Task 2: Complete the grid Most of the action (or story) has been written in the second column. On its own it does not look very tense at all. You job is to fill in the columns on the side with other details. It has been started for you.
Camera work /focus Action Tim and Lex are trapped in the car with the lawyer Martin. He is asleep they are bored. It is raining. Tim hears something. He leans forward. He is afraid. The two glasses of water on the dashboard begin to shake. Martin wakes up. He realises with horror what is going on. Lex peers into the gloom with the binoculars. A Tyrannosaurus Rex appears, gnawing his way through the security fence. Martin panics and runs from the jeep leaving the door open. The dinosaur is rampaging around the car. The children try to hold it back by pointing a torch into its eyes. The dinosaur smashes through the car window while the children try to protect themselves behind the glass The dinosaur tips the car over, crushing it and gnawing on parts of the underside of the vehicle The children are trapped underneath The children are saved by one of the scientists who manages to distract the T Rex. Lighting, atmosphere, sound effects, dialogue
Heavy rain on the glass Did you feel that?
Focus on eyes
Task 3: Building up the tension. As you can see from the grid, directors draw on lots of techniques other than action to add to the tension. We can do the same with writing. • Think of your pen as a camera and shift between wide shots (for establishing the scene) to close-ups (to help focus on the details). • Think of your pen as lighting and create mood • Think of your pen as a sound track and create background music, dialogue, sound effects Here is an example of each using the video clip you have just watched: Writing a ‘wide shot’ The jeep was stationery, parked on the track outside the perimeter fence to the dinosaur enclosure. Surrounded by tropical bush and torrential rain, the children waited in boredom for the storm to end. Writing a ‘close up’ Tim stared intently at the two glasses of water on the dashboard. Did he see them almost quiver? Yes, there was almost imperceptible movement. The water sloshed against the sides and then there was a louder clink as the two glasses rattled together. The ground was shaking. The jeep was shaking. Writing ‘lighting’ Through the misty grey downpour a dark shadow emerged. Writing a ‘sound track’ Tim’s heart thundered wildly against his chest. The rain drummed on the windows and the booming thuds of the approaching tyrannosaurus shook the ground. ‘What is that?’ his voice squeaked. Discuss the ways each of these examples uses writing techniques developed from the given film techniques. Try and write examples of your own using the grid and using each of the techniques. Task 4: Managing the pace • In film the camera can cut rapidly between shots to pick up the speed. • The camera can track the action. • The camera can hint at what is hidden. These techniques can be also be transferred to writing through the type of sentences you use. Here is an example of each using the video clip you have just watched: Writing rapid cuts between shots – (using simple sentences)
Razor teeth snapped through the wire. Tim’s eyes widened in terror. Giant feet trampled the trees in its path. Fear engulfed the boy. The tyrannosaurus let out a piercing roar. Writing ‘tracking shots’ – (follow the action) The tyrannosaurus lumbered out of the forest, contorting its pre-historic body. Flexing its cruel claws, it pawed at the jeep as though it were a toy, pitching it, tilting it and finally rolling it and crushing its metal roof into the dirt track. Writing hidden hints (using rhetorical questions) Could the tyrannosaurus gnaw through the security wire? Could the flimsy jeep protect them from the wild beast? Discuss the ways each of these examples uses writing techniques developed from the given film techniques. Task 5: Choosing your language A lot of the power of your story will come through your choice of language. A story about action that is extraordinary needs to be told with language that has impact. • Read through the examples given and identify vocabulary that you think has impact. • Organise these words into parts of speech (ie verbs, adjectives) • For each of these high impact words, write three synonyms.
Task 6: Writing your own high drama scene
The activities you have done leading up to your own writing have focused on good writing techniques for high tension, high action scenes. You are now going to apply them to a scene of your own. Take the follow steps to prepare: Step 1: Choosing and outlining the plot Choose a high drama incident. Here are some possible topics to get you thinking: • • • • • • • • Hold up On fire Shark attack Drowning Calling 111 High speed car chase Heading home after midnight Utter humiliation
• • • • • • • •
Hit by a car Prowlers Robbed in the street Caught red-handed Classroom confrontation Kicked out They said it couldn’t happen Walking out on us
Summarise the action of your story in a sentence (eg ‘ A tyrannosaurus breaks through a security fence and attacks a jeep containing two children.’). Write the sentence! Note that your scene cannot go outside the time frame that you have established in your sentence. Step 2: Create a grid Create a grid like that done for the Jurassic Park scene. Write a simple outline of the action in the second column. Write in the details of how you would film it (camera shots etc), lighting, soundtrack etc in the appropriate columns. Ensure • your scene is limited in its action. • you wait before ‘unleashing the shark’ (see beginning instructions for a reminder of what this means) Step 3: Writing the film language Go back to Tasks 3 and 4. Apply the skills outlined for writing the camera shots, writing the lighting, setting the pace etc to each section of your grid. Step 4: Beefing up the language Go back to Task 5. Now look at your vocabulary choices and consider how you can add impact by strengthening your vocabulary. Ensure you have used some figurative language in your writing. Step 5: Craft your writing • Read over your writing and then use the techniques mentioned in the prewriting tasks as a checklist to edit it. • Check all spelling; use paragraphs and clear punctuation. Your work must be accurate. • Give your story a title and present it in published form.
Assessment Schedule: Eng 2.1 - C version 2 Produce crafted and developed creative writing Descriptor Achieved Expresses ideas with detail in a piece of creative writing. Uses a writing style appropriate to audience, purpose and text type. Structures material in a way that is appropriate to audience purpose and text type. Uses writing conventions without intrusive errors. Merit Develops ideas with detail in a piece of creative writing. Uses a controlled writing style appropriate to audience, purpose and text type. Structures material clearly in a way that is appropriate to audience, purpose and text type. Uses writing conventions accurately. Excellence Develops ideas convincingly with detail in a piece of creative writing. Uses a controlled writing style appropriate to audience, purpose and text type and which commands attention. Structures material clearly and effectively in a way that is appropriate to audience, purpose and text type. Uses writing conventions accurately.
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