3 Writing Skills to Learn From Watching Videos
Hi, everyone! I am Ms Xie and today, I am going to talk about videos. Children, are you getting excited?
Many parents have to deal with the fact that their children cannot get enough of YouTube, shows on Netflix, and the like. With the emergence of smart devices, it’s easy for children to pester their parents for these devices in order to get their fix. During the circuit-breaker period, I bet many children have started watching television shows more than ever.
And who can blame them? Many of these videos are relatable and tug at our heartstrings because they tell good stories.
This is where today’s blog post comes into play, as the techniques used in many a YouTube video can be transferred to writing!
If your children love watching videos, here are some activities you can do with your children to improve their writing skills. It will feel like they aren’t really studying as this is hopefully more fun than reading model compositions.
1. A Different Point of View
Most of my students write in the point of view of, well, themselves, but examiners get tired of reading the same story in the point of view of an 11 or 12-year-old schoolgirl or boy. What other interesting points of view could a story be written in? For inspiration, let’s watch this video:
When I let my students watch this, most of them realised that they could either write this story in the point of view of a young man who couldn’t be bothered to help others, or the old woman. They also told me that this story fits the topic of “kindness” or “an accident”, that is, if one were to modify the part where the car almost hit the old lady.
Have you ever considered writing in the point of view of an animal? If your school allows for it, you can try writing in the point of view of this animal, the Sandpiper. In the video, we see how it learns to overcome its fear of the ocean. As such, it can be used for topics like “an achievement” or “bravery”.
Watch a YouTube video and write down the point of view you would tell this story in.
If you would like to learn more about writing in a different point of view, click here.
2. No Plot? No Problem!
Many of my students are stumped when they look at a composition topic as they don’t have any ideas. Exasperated parents tell me that this happens because their child doesn’t read. I agree with them that reading is crucial in order to obtain language skills and get ideas, but what if we can use videos to complement this?
Recently, my Primary Six students did a composition on the topic of “gratitude”, and the pictures given were as follows:
- A dog
- A bouquet of flowers
- An old lady
Have you finished watching it yet? Straightaway, some of my students understood that the story of a young man, Edwin, buying his teacher dinner could be used to write about how they showed gratitude to their teacher, some 20 years from now, when they would (hopefully) become successful.
Hmm… but which pictures from the composition question can I use?
If you guessed the bouquet of flowers as a gift and/or using the picture of the old lady to represent Mrs Chong, then you are right! (Remember you only need one picture to be used but of course, you can use more!)
Here’s how I planned out the story based on the video and the topic “gratitude”. I have used “Mrs Tan” instead of “Mrs Chong” as the name of my character:
Every time you watch a video that has a plot you can use for composition, take out a pen and paper and map it out on a story mountain! That way, you can cut out the extra bits that don’t need to be described. In this example, we don’t have to describe Edwin’s run-in with gangsters but focus on how hard he worked under Mrs Chong’s tutelage.
Writing is not just for an assessment. If you are an aspiring writer who is hoping to write your own novel eventually, remember — bad writers steal and plagiarise plots, but better writers understand the story and cut out the window dressing and add their own elements to make it their own.
3. Wait A Minute — I’ve Seen This Technique Before…
While watching the video about Mrs Chong, some of my students were able to point out that the video started close to the end of the story, where the student Mrs Chong helped (now grown, of course) had just got out of his car to pick her up for dinner. After that, the video started telling the story of who the man was and how Mrs Chong had helped him.
This is a technique which we call in medias res, which means starting at an intriguing or the most exciting part of the story to pique the reader’s attention. The main character then uses a flashback to fill in the readers as to how he/she came to that situation. Students can definitely use this technique to enhance their writing as in medias res is a particularly good method to hook the reader into the story.
Here is a video that shows another cool writing technique:
While letting my students watch the segment from 2:30-3:00, some of them rightly pointed out that the hair behaved like a wrestler or a fighter! This is what we call a pathetic fallacy—that an object has human-like traits, but it is not quite yet a person as the hair still looks like, well, a clump of hair. By slowing down the video, the students were able to describe the father’s “fight” with the hair. After which, extend the metaphor and use it to describe the father’s difficulty in styling his daughter’s hair.
Here’s what I did—at intervals, I paused, and wrote down what was happening
Spinning around, the young father found himself facing the towering monster that was his daughter’s hair.
He glanced at the comb in his hand and made the slightest movement to groom his daughter, but the hair cracked like a whip and surged towards him.
In this way, you get to slow down and describe a scene with great details. Keep doing this and you will get a paragraph! Mine is as follows:
Every time you see a technique or an interesting scene being used when watching a video, grab a pen and paper and slowly describe what is happening! Remember, the pause button is your friend!
Watching videos may not necessarily be a bad thing, so long as you know how to use them to your advantage in your writing. Apart from these videos, there are many more to watch and learn from. Remember to watch in moderation and think through what you have seen instead of mindlessly consuming them.
Have you found any useful videos that have helped you with writing? Let us know in the comments!
THIS COURSE WILL BE HELPFUL IF YOUR CHILD’S STORIES…
- have characters who appeared abruptly.
- have characters with abrupt or illogical details without proper build-up.
- contain irrelevant details and descriptions about the characters (usually being cancelled during marking).
- contain characters that lack depth.
- are confined to the same plot as they always involve the same character.