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Story writing: using symbolism in a three-part story.


If you are teaching creative writing to your Year 5 child for an 11 Plus exam, aim for the Year 5 and 6 (UKS2) literacy national curriculum.

In school, I tend to introduce children to onomatopoeia and simile in Years 3 and 4 and then metaphor, personification and hyperbole in Year 5.

In 11 Plus creative writing classes, I am seeing Year 5 children who have mastered writing proficiently, and now need different techniques to get their teeth into, especially if they are aiming for selective schools with a heavily weighted, second-round writing element. To use this technique, children need to have a firm grasp of their plot and how it will unfold.

So… roll out symbolism!

Symbolism refers to the use of an object, figure, event, situation, or other idea in a written work to represent something else—typically a broader message.

The image that you can see on this post shows a moon in three stages. This is a simple and effective image to use in a three-part story to echo the development of a character or plot – in this case, the full horror of the house.

Obviously, the phases of the moon don’t happen in a day, so it could be instead that the moon is seen to be moving out from behind heavy, smoky clouds.

Here’s how it could be used in a spooky story…

Part 1:  In the first part of the story, the sinister side of the spooky house has yet to be established. So, your child could add in the description of the partially hidden moon.

‘Emerging slowly from behind the smoky clouds, a slice of the powdery moon lit up the dark pathway.’

Part 2: The plot takes a twist, more information about the house and its ominous history is revealed and the action is in full swing. Again, make another reference to the moon, maybe this time shining brighter on the area.

‘In unignorable silence, the bright half-moon revealed the twisted tendrils of branches grasping at the children.’

Part 3: Now we have the full moon, and all is revealed.

‘Blinded by the nuclear moon, the children tried to prise themselves away from the insurmountable, invisible force.’

Other symbolism can be used: flowers dying over time; a light becoming brighter and then dimming again; or for a story that goes from desperate to positive, trees coming into blossom.