Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creative Writing WIN!

I am really pleased with how adding role-playing games to our homeschooling curriculum is working out.

This week I made a worksheet for the kids to reinforce our brief narration modes discussion that we had during this past weekend's game session. You can see the worksheet in the picture. My eleven-year-old daughter missed one of the connections on the top portion, but then blew me away on the writing portion. I asked for only one paragraph, but when I got home from work last night, the passage below is what she handed in. Except for her character's internal reflections, the game events happened exactly as described here, including the dialog. At her request, spelling errors have been corrected, but I left everything else as is.

After just having devoured their huge feast of Browl [an owlbear they slew, renamed because they're near the Port City of Manteau], the questers put out their fires and divided up into watches. Elerisa bravely took the first watch along with Bubda. Bubda paced back and forth, his short bow at the ready. Elerisa sat against a large rock, watching Bubda's constant march. She started to think how much he reminded her of the elven palace guards back home, marching back and forth with an arrow on the string of their composite long bows ready to strike an enemy intruder through the heart. She longed to be back in her own room at her palace. There she would be in a silky nightgown, a pink robe, and warm fuzzy slippers, not stiff leather and chain mail. Plus she wouldn't be sitting against a hard rock in the rain. She would be sitting in her favorite comfy seat by the fire, next to a window with an excellent view of the palace garden. Then she heard something and snapped back into reality. Her hand instinctively reached for her magic composite long bow.

"Sounds like singing," whispered Bubda.

The tune of the song brought childhood memories rushing back to her. She remembered seeing a play. It had something to do with talking animals and friendly monsters. "Wasn't there like a giant bird or something?" she thought.*

Then she saw the faint outline of a group of things walking along the path far away. A bunch of goblins and their dogs, and a hobgoblin. Bubda pulled back the string of his bow but Elerisa stopped him. "Don't shoot unless we have to," she said. "They may not notice us."

Bubda nodded but kept his bow ready. Elerisa did the same. She pulled back the string, the arrow's metal tip sharpened to a deadly point, ready to pierce the flesh of any goblin that noticed them. Her magic bow pulsed in her grip, wanting to strike the enemy's heart. But she dared not let go for then they would surely see her. Pinky, who was sleeping soundlessly next to Fiona, raised her head and looked curiously at Elerisa. Elerisa saw her and raised a finger to her lips. Pinky involuntarily laid her head back down. Just then one of the goblins' dogs lurched in their direction. Elerisa pulled her arrow even farther back but still did not fire. The goblin pulled the dog away and kept walking. Elerisa and Bubda stood perfectly still for a good five minutes 'til they were sure the goblins were gone. They both let out a sigh of relief.

"That was good thinking," said Bubda. "If we had shot them, we would have gotten into a huge fight, and I don't know how much more damage I can take."

Then they woke Willa and Fiona for the second watch. Elerisa tried to imagine her makeshift tent was her royal bedroom. She tried to pretend her armor was silk and that the patch of grass she lay on was her memory-foam mattress. She pretended what little bit of trees she could see from the gap in the tent was the view of the garden. And she tried to imagine the warmth of the fire and its comforting glow.

"Funny," she thought, looking out at her pretend garden, "I've always wanted to go camping but I never thought it would be like this, and I really didn't think I would rather be at home."

Then she fell asleep.

This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping that RPGs would help facilitate.

* I had sung a verse of the goblins' "Stabby Day" song, to the tune of the Sesame Street theme.


  1. Wow, that's amazing. I've heard Ann talking about your games and am so enchanted by it all and would love to participate in something like this -- I love this type of thing! Wish I knew how to play D&D. Anyway - great work Olivia. What a writer!

  2. That's great! Smart girl you have there.

  3. My 11 year old son Nick is in Olivia's class at co-op, and I just read this sample to him to get his take on it. He's a total bookworm, and he's also really into RPGs, and he was thrilled by her description and her storytelling abilities. After we'd finished it, he spent several minutes recounting his favorite parts, and he asked me a bunch of questions about the characters and the story (which I couldn't answer, of course). I'll have to have him make note of his questions so he can ask Olivia next week. It's great that you're able to see the RPGs benefit your kids' overall learning. Thanks for sharing!