This DVD is divided into two main sections of just over thirty minutes each. The first section covers the basics of story-writing, and although it is geared towards grade four and up, it is useful for anyone with a composition or report to write, or a story to tell.
Presented in cartoon format, the story-writer is a young girl, and her instructor an Italian pencil named Marko. We follow along as the girl writes a composition about her first camping trip, with Marko providing running advice and commentary.
As she writes, Marko pulls "tools" out of his toolbox to make the story better, and these are:
1. Arranger: putting your thoughts in order so as to capture the whole story in a logical and organized manner. Extraneous material that doesn't belong in the story is also edited out.
2. Hook: every story needs something to catch the reader's attention, and this includes specific actions, word pictures, interesting facts, conversations or questions.
3. Transitions: used to fill gaps in the storyline.
4. Colorful words: words used to emphasize the way things look, feel, smell, taste or sound.
5. Personification: giving human qualities to objects.
6. Dialogue: developing characters by having them speak to each other.
7. Simile: using words to say how different things may be similar.
8. Onomatopoeia: words pronounced like the sound they are describing.
9. Alliteration: words that begin with the same letter.
10. Lasting impressions: ways to end your story that will be remembered by your readers.
(Marko also discusses unclear pronouns and making sure that clear antecedents are used)
The second section deals with proofreading for capitalization, spelling, punctuation and double negatives, among others.
Also available on the DVD are printable posters covering the topics, and these are also available for downloading from markothepencil dot com in pdf or gif format.
I think that this is a very useful tool for helping children to improve their writing skills, and even my seven year old is now familiar with the terms "simile", "onomatopoeia" and "alliteration". Get this for a young, aspiring writer in your family, and leave a lasting impression.
Amanda Richards, July 5, 2008