Mr Legowski’s 11xEN1 home learning – due Monday 11 November

Following on from the pitches yesterday (and I know there’re still some students left to pitch their story ideas to the class), I’d like you to consider the following points and explain how they might relate to your opening chapter. Write your explanations in the comments box below.

1) To what extent will the ‘outside world’ (i.e. the world inhabited by the characters – one of economic collapse, survival of the fittest, etc.) intrude on your characters in your opening chapter? Will the opening contain much information about the world* outside or will it be more subtly introduced? Explain your answer.

2) Can you describe the setting well if you have never been to place the story takes place in? What research will you have to do so that you can describe the setting (e.g. village, town or city) with some authenticity?

3) How are you going to make the reader respond to your character(s)? The reader needs to connect with the characters (whether they like or hate them) so how will you achieve this in your writing?

4) What’s your U.S.P. (unique selling point)? What is different, unique, better, about your opening chapter compared to others?

I look forward to reading your comments.

*By this, I don’t necessarily mean ‘the whole world’, simply the world outside the character(s)’ home, e.g. the local village, the town or city, etc.

Mr Legowski


22 thoughts on “Mr Legowski’s 11xEN1 home learning – due Monday 11 November

  1. joe dooley

    As I have already said after last lesson, my story will take place in a “new soviet union” in Russia. having done alot of research into the soviet union and Russia over the past year, i could probably put across a convincing version of Moscow and the Gulag. The state will be completely moneyless- however, supplies are not being distributed fairly and many are going hungry.this wll mean the main character having to scrounge off other people to survive, doing things he will not be proud of. However, it is a time of deperation, and the reader will hopefully empathise with my character. It will also be run like an orwellian police state, with a nine pm curfew, with anyone outside shot on sight. it is this sense of danger to the character that will provide a good selling point- but the real U.S.P comes from the mix of emotions stemming from the fact it is set somewhere familiar yet unfamiliar to the reader- and the Gulag will really provide this sense of loss and endangerment, followed by despair and resignation.

  2. Daisy Price

    The story I’m writing is about the escape of the city and the searching for an island so i will only mention the area the main character is living in to begin and then will bring in about the rest of the world later on. The setting I’m using is from a book, The City of Ashes, so i will be able to describe the scenery well without having to use where i live as i think, based on the images, that will be more appropriate. The character will be running from society and will be anti-government, which I’m sure people will be able to relate to based on the situation. Furthermore a running theme is global-warming which, based on the pitches on Friday, no one else has used meaning my story has a unique selling point.

    1. Mr Legowski

      Thanks Daisy. So is global warming the main contributor to the collapse of society, as opposed to an economic collapse?

  3. Josie

    I don’t really know much about my story yet, I have a basic overview but I havn’t gone into much detail. I’m going to base the “economic crisis” on the mother loosing her job and that is why they have to move, therefore it will most likely be introduced subtly. The setting is going to be set in a film I’ve seen but I’m just gonna change the name. I want the reader to empathise and be sympathetic towards the main charactor therefore I want them to like them. I will do this by using emotive language. In the opening chapter one of my charactor sister will be kidnapped and the books will be based around finding the little sister. The end of tha chapter the sister will be kidnapped so I will give the reader suspense which will make them want to read on.

    1. Mr Legowski

      Thanks Josie. It’s okay to take ideas about setting from a film, as long as it’s simply the environment that you’re going to use for your description – let’s face it, is it much different to basing the setting on a PLACE that you know well?. Please make sure you don’t take anything else from the film.

  4. Georgia Atkins

    My opening chapter will describe the setting that was created by the economic collapse, like the extent of damage that was caused by riots due to the collapse! Therefore it will include a fair but of information about the world. I am basing it around a town so I can therefore link some characteristics to places such as Dartmouth and kingsbride etc. therefor I can over exaggerate features that could take place in Dartmouth and describe some features from the town itself. Also I can use ideas I have from various films I have watched to create my setting to. I will make the reader feel sorry for the character due to emotions she will convey and therefore they will become attached to her and want to help we out, due to her past. It shows reality as many people have to put up with a loss of an important person in your life and it could therefore link to many people in that way. Also by the characters past and personalty it is very real and genuin, therefore it is fairly easy to relate to. Also my character wi find a survivor towards the end and the reader will want to find out what happens to them and how their relationship turns out like.

  5. Harriet

    My story will be set in the forest, within a camp full of people who have fled from the chaos in the cities in the fight for survivals. The plan to build this camp was set up in advance by the people involved (who are all related or close friends) who knew what the result of an economic break down would entitle, With this in mind the character’s will have planned to save the ones they love and create a new way of life for them selves living within nature. This will be shown through a first person narrative of one of the females in the camp reflecting on the months before the lights went out. the city they escape from will be similar to Plymouth and the forests can be as described in the hunger games. Within the first chapter a group will leave the camp to hunt for food and within their journey they will come across a screaming girl lost in the woods. The reader will empathize with the innocence of the girl covered in cuts and bruises and will want to know her story. My unique selling point will be the story of the girl, making the reader want to carry on reading to find out what her story is and why she reacts how she does when seeing the people within the camp once taken back by the hunting party..

    1. Mr Legowski

      Sounds fab, Harriet. For a start, I’ll want to know what the girl is doing in the forest and why she’s screaming.

  6. Rhiannon

    Imagine this, you and your brother are unjustly accused of being common lowlife criminals, when all you are simply doing is using your wits and stealth to survive. Firstly, you have been ‘herded’ onto a plane heading for Oregon due to the economical breakdown, which forces immigrants to be treated like second-class citizens, and are also inferior to the rich. The protagonists (the brothers) in this chapter steal on many occasions for basic resources. Is this really wrong if they want- no, need to survive? This chapter features a short account of their time in Oregon, otherwise to them known as ‘home’, as well as an account of being in California, of which they flee from both states when bloodthirsty armed officers hunt them down ruthlessly.

    The underlying plot is the fact that these brothers are corrupt and rebellious to avenge their younger sister’s death because she missed curfew by 30 seconds, and was shot dead in the streets, her bloodstained body dumped in a gutter for them to later discover. The outside world greatly intrudes on their lives, explained in explicit detail as to what the brothers must do to survive, as well as getting revenge for their sister’s death. The fact that the outside world plays such a large role in their lives determines their personalities based on the events around them.

    The story is largely based in Quebec, Canada, where they are confronted by a barren wasteland of snow. Of course, some research will need to be done into the area, but not in pages and pages of details since the specific city will change in landscape anyway, because it will no longer masquerade with the idea of a normal society. The city will be derelict, unwanted, cold and unpleasant.

    The characters face many hardships, from being betrayed by their father, to losing their mother and sister because of his actions. The have a sense of vengeance to make him pay for his choices, as well as a clear instinct for survival and are greatly intelligent. The reader soon learns how different the brothers are and how each copes in their present situation. Whether they like them or not is up to the reader because they have likeable personalities, because they are witty and have a sense of humour,and are quick to adapt their attitude when they need to.

    The USP of this chapter is when they discover that their father have been thrown in jail for his lack of duties and attempting to overthrow the government, therefore being sentenced to death. Also, when their is a sudden shortage of supplies and they are constantly looking over their shoulders, the brothers soon turn against each other, arguing at every decision that is crucial to keep them alive. At the end of the chapter, one brother betrays the other, but which one? And how?

    1. Mr Legowski

      This is going to be a real page-turner, Rhiannon! Brother turning on brother?! Also, I loved your point about the city no longer masquerading as a normal society.

  7. Jake

    The opening paragraph of my story will indroduce the outside world because it’s useful to set the scene of the story and helps with the meaning of the plot. The fact that the world’s economy has collapsed will probably have to be mentioned in the first paragraph aswell because it is the basis of the story. I don’t necessarily think that you have to have been to a place to be able to describe it because this is a fictional story but if you were going to describe it in a lot of detail then you would have to have gone there. Everybody has their own way of talking about things and you wouldn’t be able to talk about the place yourself and it wouldn’t come from you.
    The reader develops their own understanding of the personalities of the characters in a book so if they are all different in some ways then certain readers will be able to relate to them in different ways.

    1. Mr Legowski

      Thanks Jake. Quick question, though: do you really have to mention the collapse of the world’s economy in the first paragraph?

      1. Jake

        I don’t think it has to be mentioned in the first paragraph but it depends on how much is written in it and what’s being described in it.

  8. Tilly

    I will include quite a lot about the setting, i think its important because it helps the reader understand the character more when they know what sort of a place that person lives in and they how they live their day to day life. I have a pretty clear idea of the setting, I’ve been to lots of cities all over the world so i will use elements from those to describe the setting. Because the main character has to make a quick decision with awful consequences in a split second, the reader can chose whether they think they did the right thing, therefore deciding whether or not they like them. Because the first chapter will end on a cliff hanger the reader would want to read on the find out what happens.

  9. Kayleigh

    In my opening chapter,i will include a fair amount of detail about where my story is set purely because i feel as though i can give detail to it as i am used to being in and around towns and cities. Using adjectives to describe my setting will help the reader picture where my characters are using there imagination. I want my reader to have a clear image of the setting so they can feel a part of the story. Through out the story my main character is going to be very stubborn and argumentative, The way this character treats people should hopefully give the reader a negative view on them, My intended effect will be caused using dialogue, Varied sentence length, to show attitude and also the actions and decisions my character will make. The USP for my story will be the authenticity of it, As i can relate to the main character my self by also being a stroppy teenager, full of attitude and very argumentative. I feel as though i can relate to my story through personal experiences of being a teenager, I can also use my experiences of being in other cities to reflect how i portray my setting. I hope to succeed in all that i have mentioned and to improve my mark from our year 10 CA.

  10. Alix Hopley

    My story is based on a city, so globally? No it will not be intrusive in the characters the lives, but the citylife itself will certainly intrude majorly in the characters life. I will introduce the surrounding (outside) quite vividly, however briefly, just to paint a picture for the reader, enough to imagine being in the characters footsteps, but not so he or she can see every detail, as i would like to leave room for the reader to imagine and create details them self. He are things and pictures you can research about specific types of locations, therefore you do not need to have experienced city life to write about it, however it could be helpful. I will make the reader connect with the character by describing the character’s emotions very often and their movements and actions. This will help the reader understand more easily what it is like to be that character… Or help them walk in the character’s shoes. The U.S.P of my story will be that the character isn’t always the highest powered character, or doesn’t always get things right and win like most stories, my character will go through a lot of climax’s and anticlimax’s.

  11. Olivia Kennard

    First of all, in my opening chapter, I am planning for the world during the economic breakdown to have some form of influence on the protagonist of my story. As my main character is a young boy, aged around 8, the background information will have a large involvement of world just entering the state of the breakdown. The reason for this is because new laws and curfews have been set in place by the remaining government, and as the boy is hiding from the police, who are overpowered with control, his mother goes on the search for him, however, the police spot her and shoot her dead infront of his eyes. This portrays a large involvement of the world because the police and government whom are among the most authoritive people have sent this little boys world crashing down. To continue, the little boy finds comfort in a stray dog, who was suffering alone much like the boy. Futher on in the chapter, the outside world will still have a huge impact on this little boys life as he has to ensure that noone spots him at any time, and as the police flood into the derelict city in the night time, the boy and his dog cannot lead a what I would say normal life in those circumstances.
    In order to produce a good opening chapter, I have chosen the location of London, which I have visited a few times, therefore, making me aware of the main surroundings found there. However, I may have to complete some further research into the housing areas as these are the parts that I have never visited. To continue, I believe that in order for me to provide someone who has never been to London with a good enough depth as to what is there, I would need to have been myself, which I have. I have chosen London because it is the capital of England, therefore, the damage found here would have had a huge impact on the rest of England, as this is the place where government, prime minister and queen all lived.
    To enable the reader to respond to my character, I have purposely chosen a young 8 year old boy, left with no parents, meaning he is vulnerable to the outside world. To continue, I believe that because I have chosen such a young age for my protagonist, the reader will connect with him more, as they will all be aware of how dependent that age group is on adults to care for them, so the fact that this young boy is left to fend for himself may tug a few heartstrings. In addition, the young boy won’t have a bad behaviour, not even the slightest bit mischievous, he will be a shy, quiet and well mannered young boy who is also very sensitive. I have chosen this behaviour for the boy because I know that the reader will empaphise for him more as he is not the type of child to be disliked by anyone.
    My unique selling point in this first chapter is the relationship between the young boy and his dog that he found comfort in after the passing of his mother. The dog and the boy share a special bond and it is clear to the reader just how amazing the friendship is. As the bond between these two characters intensifies throughout the chapter, the reader continuously feels tension as they face unexpected issues, however, the tension finally breaks in a climax at the end of the first chapter as the dogs life become endangered as the outside world influences their lifestyle once again.

  12. Brandon

    My opening paragraph will give a brief introduction to the surroundings of the world to lure the reader in to the story. My opening paragraph will describe the location and how it has affected the world in its situation which through out severly affects the main character in his decisions since the location (the city) will be not as easy escaping than entering. Also, with the other involved characted which are dramatically affected by the environment it has changed there personality significantly. I will be able to describe the location well in the meaning I’m trying to get out by being influence by many films and some books, these will give met he advantage in my writing. The way the reader is going to connect with the main character since at the start they will be confused on why this guy (main character) is put in this situation, which slowly will draw the reader in as he expresses his emotion about his life and goals and his family as if they were there and he’s was communicating straight to them like your his psychologist. My U.S.P of my story is that the opening paragraph is pretty much based on this guy who has no skills no achievements just an underachiever who slowly changed through the sorry since he has to adapt to his surroundings to survive i.e. Survival of the fittest. He changed his personality to be able to cope and strive forward through these terrible events to accomplish his goal and reunite with his family.

  13. mary

    Im not too sure about my whole story yet, however I do think that I want to have a very dramatic opening. This is because I believe it will hook the reader and make them want to read on. I intend on having the new world and the horrors that come along with it to really hit the reader in the face from page 1.
    I’ll be able to describe my setting as although ive never been to that exact place, I have been to other places similar so i’ll be able to adapt it. Im planning on having my story set in a clearing in the woods so this shouldn’t be hard.
    My character is going to be very relatable to those who have younger siblings. She’s going to be extremely protective over them and she’s going to do everything within her power to fend for them as their mother is very weak. However, despite this there’s going to be a massive turn of events at the end of the chapter that involves her youngest brother being killed. This will really effect the reader as it was so unexpected.
    My usp is purely the fact that the action does not rest and its very unexpected. Also, I don’t want to leave it with all questions answered. You’re not going to be told who kills the boy and everything is unclear. (although hopefully not confusing)

  14. Meg Hallett

    The opening of my story will start with the dialogue between the main characters- a mother, father and their ten year old boy. Due to the ‘economic meltdown’ that has happened it’s left the city in complete chaos and the family are forced to venture out into the nearest from to collect supplies for the foreseeable furture, when they leave the safety of their shelter this is when I am going to have the description of what has happened and why they are in the situation they are. I will do some background information on my location, but I don’t feel as though I will need to research in detail as I have seen many films set in America and I feel I already have an understanding to the setting itself. Each of my characters will have a background, for example the father had a troubled past being involved in something like alcoholism or drug abuse, causing the mother to make him chose between his addiction or his son, through this backstory I should create a sense of empathy and I will stress the importance of family bond between my characters. The unique selling point to my story would be the fact that I am planning on one of the main characters- the mother, dying in the first chapter leaving the father and son to carry on by themselves, also making the reader wanting to carry on reading to find out wether they will survive and wether the father can handle it.


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