Jack’s Horror Story

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 00.09.51Recently the Write Brothers were lucky enough to work with some children at the King Edwards Learning Hub at Birmingham Airport. Together we explored different ways of creating a horror story! We were delighted to receive an email from Jack Probyn, St Alphege Junior School, Aged 9. He explained that he had enjoyed our time together so much he had continued his horror story at home! He was kind enough to send it to us, and you can read it below… if you dare!!

If you would like to use horror stories, film and acting in your lessons, check out this free resource coming soon from The Write Brothers, A Tale Unfolds and The Literacy Shed: https://ataleunfolds.co.uk/frightening-film-trailer/

Jack’s story

An eyeball dances, glued onto the dilapidated, mossy walls of the desolate labyrinth. Shrivelled and blood-stained guts smother the creepy, grim ground. Suddenly a decomposed hand starts to drift towards me, out of a crack in the wall. Then a huge, grotesque, stone made monster emerges out of the miniature crack in the wall. The monster was splattered in blood and I was petrified! Will I be the next blood-covered gut, lying helplessly, dead?

I frantically searched through my pockets and the hair on my neck stood up. Eventually I found something that might help.

The monster was now 10 feet away…

I scrambled and pulled out an Xbox controller.

8 feet…

I could feel and hear my heart pounding, as loudly as an elephant.

6 feet…

My whole body was shaking as I fumbled open the battery case. I felt hope and also relief. However, I still knew that this monster would do all it could to make sure it gorged on me, tearing out my ribs and ripping out my lungs.

3 feet…I only had seconds to pull this off…

I now had the batteries in my hand, planning to electrocute this bloodthirsty beast. Suddenly I could feel his breath on the back of my head and I saw a shadow under my feet. I could imagine his nose flaring.

I span around and jumped quickly to the left to dodge the monster’s arm grabbing me. I sprinted to it and held the battery against his body. I waited for the cacophony of howling and wailing to begin as I thought the electricity would have kicked in by now…but it never came. Instead the monster turned round, a peculiar grin on his face. Once again panic rushed through me. I realised that the batteries had been dead.

I dropped the controller and the batteries…and ran…and ran…and ran. The hideous creature kept appearing through the cracks in the wall, forcing me to change direction. I knew that my death might come but I still felt determined to survive.

I was obviously going to come to a dead end soon. My legs were starting to ache when I had a glimpse of sunlight. I followed it and ahead of me was a little gap. I could not see the merciless murderer behind me, but I knew he would be on my trail.

I scraped at the sides of the gap to make it bigger so that I would be able to fit through it. Behind me the ruthless killer had turned the corner. His big, bulging eyes narrowed when I looked up at him. I worked as hard as ever, knowing my life was depending on this hole in the wall.

The next thing I knew I was side by side with him. I didn’t have to think about what my next move should be so I leapt into the hole. I struggled a bit but…I had got out!

I could hear the monster raging and I was glad I was safe. Then I suddenly wondered:



Spooky stuff! Well done, Jack!

New ‘any topic’ storywriting through film workshops

We’re pleased to announce our new style ‘you choose’ workshops!

We are offering a unique experience for your children – and an opportunity to give them a real reason to write.

You choose the topic, the subject, the story – and we’ll do the rest! We spend a day planning, creating and filming children’s stories, showing them that writing is important and has a real purpose. We can provide planning to support schools, both  pre- and post- the event.

More details or booking enquires here.

New Workshop Resources

At Smart Stories, we know it is important to make literacy exciting and interesting for all children. To make sure our workshops are even more fantastic, we’ve had these banners designed to stimulate childrens storywriting!


We’ve also been out in the woods filming new things!


We are now offer storytelling through film workshops on any topic from Reception through to Year 6, so get in touch!

How Stories Change Us

He had always been there. Just one of the many writers whose work I’d devoured growing up. His passing had saddened me, but I only felt a true sense of loss when finishing Terry Pratchett’s final book; The Shepherd’s Crown. I realised that was the final time I would read his words.

I was probably in my early teens when I first began reading Sir Terry’s novels. terryTruckers, Diggers, Wings, and then on to the Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic. Over the years, I came across other Discworld novels that I would read. I have a vivid memory of discovering a copy of Soul Music in the school library, the familiar cover art surprising me, not having realised there was another of his books I hadn’t read. 

It became that birthday and Christmas gifts would regularly include a copy of Terry’s latest wonder. I was given a Discworld themed diary that I kept for a while. My Dad read some of them too. I remember buying him the map of Death’s Domain for his birthday, and then poring over it for hours, Death being one of my own favourite characters. Continue reading

The Power of Stories

thepowerofstoriesWe live in an age where you can visit the other side of the world at the click of a button. Children have access to an amount and variety of information unheard of ten, or even five years ago. To be able to communicate, understand, and empathise has never been more important. Today’s education has to equip children with the skills and tools that enable them to process and engage with our world, and the power of stories helps them do this.

The ability to read and write is integral to our lives. The National Literacy Trust research from 2014 showed that adults with higher levels of literacy were less likely to have poor health or be diagnosed as depressed, and more likely to have higher-paid employment and take active participation in their community. 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school have difficulties in basic literacy skills. The evidence shows that literacy has a significant relationship with success and happiness of people of all ages.

Continue reading

Monster Story Competition Winners!

In November, we ran a competition, asking for budding writers to send in their response to our problem – we’d met a monster but couldn’t remember what it looked like. We asked for your suggestions in the form of illustrations and a short story about the monster.

We were very impressed by the high quality of the entries we received, and would like to thank all who took part. We are now pleased to be able to announce the two winners.

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Attack of the Killer Thesaurus

killer thesaurusI’ve been working with a Year 6 class recently, some of whom just love to use the thesaurus. It’s the Holy Grail of writing, the golden chalice from whence all WOW words flow. Simply tip it over your work and – WHAM –  instant ‘Level 5’! (Although we’re not using levels, I know, I know…)

This is great. They are so enthusiastic about words and writing, and they are aware of their choices as writers. Here are some examples:

‘…but in the end we had a really acceptable day.’

‘The food was cordial too.’

‘He has a cape that waves behind him in the gust.’

It’s clear that all is not well in Grammar Land. These children are missing something.

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Zombies: Twisting Reality

“Okay George, what did you write in your story plan?”
“Next I kill all the zombies.”

Your heart sinks… why do they always want to write about zombies? Any excuse – fairy tales, adventures, building tension, setting description, no matter – suddenly there are hoards of zombies pouring out from the undergrowth, and sweet little George is blasting them to kingdom come with his pump-action shotgun.

I have no problem with action – in fact, I love stories which move quickly, not giving the characters time to breathe before the next crisis! So then why is it that as teachers, we recoil when we are asked “…can I write about zombies?”

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Beginning, Middle and End: Robot Stories?

It is true that all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But not all stories have to take place in that order. Without this awareness, we can be in danger of limiting children to only one way of constructing a story.

Opening, build up, climax, resolution, ending: the story mountain.

This is a familiar litany to teachers who model the structure of stories. Children need this firm foundation to understand the story formula. We can be very dogmatic about using this structure, but it isn’t true that stories always follow it strictly.no imagination req

How can we push and challenge children once they understand the beginning, middle and end? If we always follow this pattern, stories become robotic machines, blindly following the path without the creative tweaks, loops and twists which keep the reader interested.


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Why Are Children Always “Stuck”?

Summer is sitting staring at her blank page. She’s chewing the end of her pencil, and you can see a flake of HB yellow and black paint stuck to her top lip. “Come on Summer,” you plead, “there must be something you can think of…”

pirate stuckMany children find generating ideas when writing difficult. This is worrying for them, frustrating for teachers, and can be a hard barrier to break through. It’s a common problem. We recently surveyed 100 teachers from across the UK, asking them “What do children in your class find challenging about writing stories?”.

Two-thirds of those teachers said that coming up with ideas and writing creatively was a barrier to their children’s progress. Is this an epidemic? Are we seeing the death of creativity in children?

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