16.11.12

WRITING TIP nº2 -The arbitrary prefix


Here we are, talking about how to inspire your students to write a story.
The second story-inventing game from Gianni Rodari's Grammar of Fantasy is called the arbitrary prefix.

In some way, it could be considered a variation of the Fantastic Binomial (link), and it consists of taking word and placing prefixes in front of them in order to create new inspiring concepts.

Just write down a column of prefixes and a column of words. Then try to connect each one and observe the effect on your brain. 

micro        elephant 
sub           town  
un            bomb  
e              gap  
super        bug  
semi         ghost  
non          playing  
hyper       headed 

or 

micro       town (are there any giants around?)
sub          ghost (ghosts with fish tales?)
un           headed (an horror story?)
e             bug (a spy story?)
super       game (something like the hunger games?)
semi        bomb
non         elephant (?!?!?)
hyper      gap (double hole, double adventure)
etc.

Has any of the connections above already stimulated a brilliant idea for a story?

So, once upon a time, there were two cities that were always fighting. They were constantly busy with their war. But it was a very strange battle. They were struggling to be the best place to live in and they were using weird weapons called unbombs: very expensive devices that improved citizen's life instead of destroying it. 
So each city was spending lots and lots of money to buy these strange bombs
that brought new parks, schools and some kind of services, at every explosion.

People were very satisfied in both cities and when they met, they never stopped showing off the many improvements they got every month, 12 months a year.

Unfortunately one day the hyper-headed guy who made the brilliant unbombs started to suffer an incredibly painful headache. He couldn't do anything a part from lying in bed all day long. The doctor said that he had spent too many years thinking about how to make citizen's happy and now his head was almost blowing up, so he had to rest as much as possible.

What do you think people are going to do now? What about introducing a wicked semi-ghost to create a bit of suspense? 

As always this is only the skeleton of a possible story and not a completely developed tale. I'm sure you can make the most of this tip with your class.

Enjoy it and have fun!