12.5.13

Writing Tip nº 6: THE CREATIVE MISTAKE


Gianni Rodari's Grammar of Fantasy is an endless source of ideas for making up stories.

Today we'll talk about the CREATIVE MISTAKE. 

This technique makes the most of children's mistakes at writing or pronouncing words. An example of this case is in the worldwide famous fairy tale 'Cinderella', written by the French author Charles Perrault.

As we all know, Cinderella drops her glass slipper, running away from the prince's castle while the clock is striking the Midnight.

Well, it seems that originally that slipper was made of 'vaire' , a sort of fur, but for a fortunate coincidence, maybe a mistake of transcription, it was changed into 'verre', glass. Perhaps, a much more appropriate shoe material for a fairy tale.

Here some mistakes that can be inspiring for eccentric stories:

Work station ---> Working station ---> A station that works by itself while human beings spend their lives doing whatever they like

Post horse --> Posting horse ---> A horse that is in charge of taking mails and parcels to the post office could be a big surprise in big city.

Break dance --> Breaking dance ---> A cursed dance which break the bones of people who try to performance it.
etc.

Moonbeam---> Moon bean
Serial Killer --> Cereal Killer ---> Panic in the cupboard!
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A bloody scream pierced the silence of the kitchen. The boxes, bags and tins woke up from their nap and gathered round to see what had happened: Quaker, their friend and comrade, was lying on the floor, his oaty guts spilled everywhere, his box smashed.

"Is he…?" said the tin of sardines in a quavery voice.
"Yes. He's dead."
Everyone was silent for a moment. Then the bottle of olive oil started to cry, oily tears rolling down his face.
"Quaker was a great guy." he said. "He was a wonderful box of oatmeal."

Life in the kitchen continued for a few days. Everyone calmed down and started to forget what had happened to Quaker. Prepackaged foods aren't known for having excellent long memories. Eventually a new box of oatmeal appeared in the cupboard. 

But late one night when everybody was asleep, there was another shout, followed by a plastic crunch. 

The food awoke to find Uncle Ben, the bag of rice, dead. He had been smashed under a sack of lemons.

The boxes, bags and tins sat around till morning talking about what happened. Was it some sort of accident? It couldn't be! First Quaker and now Uncle Ben… 

It was the jar of mustard who was the first to say what everyone was thinking… He spoke in his thick French accent, "Lediz ahnd Gentlemahn. Ah tink we hahv a… a cereal killer among ahs!"

To be continued?

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We can even take into account typical pronunciation mistakes:

Sheep --> Ship --> A flock of ships?
World War 2 --> Word War 2 --> Nice words against bad words?
Beard --> Bird --> A beard's nest? Flying beards?
Boat --> Boot --> Wearing a pair of boats? A fishing boot?

Anyway… Mistakes exist because the right words exist, so the creative process of inventing stories is inspired by the relationship/contrast between them. A sort of fantastic binomial that once again allows our young writers to explore many fantastic possibilities.

So, by all means correct your students' homework but at the same time don't forget to take note of their mistakes… Potentially they might be a good source of inspiration for their next writing project!




I design series of activities based on a communicative method that will help children to practice the grammar they're learning at school.

Many ESL activities, I see, are nothing more than 'fill in the blank' exercises that only teach kids how to fill in blanks and miss the whole point of learning to speak and understand a new language.

It's much easier and more fun to learn by doing, and you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll see valuable results. 

You can get my activities on my online store: