Take another look at the quotations on the front page of the booklet. What do they tell us about telling tales? Why do you think stories are important? Discuss these questions with a partner and be ready to feedback your ideas to the class.
Task One: What are the different elements needed to create an interesting short story? Complete the mind map below with your ideas:
Task Two: Now read the three short stories. Use a marker pen to highlight features that you think make an effective short story. If you find something you haven’t yet considered, add it to your mind map. After each story think, pair and share with your partner.
I can see her from my window. In her bedroom titivating herself and getting ready to go out. She was my best friend. But not any more.
I can't help but think back to how different things used to be between us, just a few years ago. I remember the first day I met her, when she burst in to my world like a ray of sunshine exclaiming "We will be best friends forever!" A promise she failed to keep.
At first we did everything together - went shopping, ate in restaurants, went for drives in the car, and every year she insisted I went on holiday with her and her family. Always to a beach. I never told her but I hated the way the sand never seemed to wash out of my hair.
She introduced me to my first ever boyfriend. He was called Ken and was the love of my life. He was so handsome and well dressed and she always said we belonged together. That was until... That year we went to Menorca - another beach holiday - but the first time Ken and I had been away as a couple. We all had a great time! But two days before we came home, I stayed at the hotel while the rest of them went on a boat trip. They were gone for ages, but I enjoyed the peace and quiet. When she came back I could tell she had been crying. She hugged me close and sobbed. There had been an accident on the boat and my Ken was lost forever - presumed drowned.
When we got back home things were never the same again. I was just numb, but she cried a river. She sobbed when she saw his car in the driveway, when she opened the wardrobe and saw his clothes, and when she stepped on his surfboard - his pride and joy - and broke it. I just smiled at her and hoped in my eyes she could see I forgave her. She tried at the start to make everything better, taking me out, buying me new clothes and even introducing me to a new man.
I don't know exactly when we started to drift apart. Her visits dwindled and I saw her less and less. She has a new friend now, called Sarah, who is beginning to take my place. I met Sarah once briefly, and she laughed at me. I looked at my best friend and could see how embarrassed she was with me. I knew then our time was over.
She is still fixing her hair, music blaring through the open window. Suddenly her bedroom door opens. "Turn that music down Lucy!" her mum yells, "Have you decided what things you are giving to the charity shop yet? I'm going now!" She looked over - directly at me. "Yeah mum, I think the dolls house and Barbie can go." And my world went black as the plastic bag was placed over my home.
The boy caressed the rusty key in his palm. Hours had passed, scouring this unknown territory: a waste of time until he found this reward, this trophy. With the eagerness of an archaeologist he rubbed away at the encrusted dirt until his grimy fingers revealed two words, inscribed on the key's shaft - "Find Me".
The instant he stepped foot into the house again, all his senses marvelled at the uniqueness of the Manor. The sinewy fingers of stale pipe tobacco smoke crawled up into his nostrils, and the irritating sound of creaking chafed at his eardrums as he pounded the wooden floorboards searching for hidden curiosities.
His mother had sunk into poverty since her husband had died in The Great War. A hardworking and trustworthy woman, she was fortunate to have been given the position of housekeeper by the owners of Pensfort Manor whilst they were travelling. Her son, an exuberant nine year old, short for his age but fearless nonetheless, was delirious to find himself free to roam the many formal gardens, orchards and wildernesses surrounding the Manor and play to his heart's content within the walls of the ambling house.
Nimbly traversing the many corridors, the boy wandered into a room, yet undiscovered, and pondered over its impressive paintings with elaborate gilt frames which looked to him centuries old. Someone tapped him on the back - it was a delicate touch, more that of a child than an adult, but surely not his mother's. There it was again, a gentle prod, undoubtedly real, for he felt fingernails pierce his shirt.
He wove around to face a life sized portrait of a girl - she had flowing golden locks, peaceful blue eyes but a sad pale face full of longing and loneliness. In the background of the painting was a decaying oak door with a rusting lock...
The girl moved! He could swear on it. She seemed to be clawing at his hand - why? He spread out his palm: of course, the key! She smiled but her eyes were bulging with hunger as she beckoned him hypnotically to come forward. The girl pointed eagerly to the lock in the door behind her; as he slid the key into it, a huge wave of light flooded out of the painting, engulfing him and his screams for help.
"Son?" his mother called to him. No response. "Son?" All day she had searched every inch of the house in vain desperation before she remembered the deserted corridor of rooms the owners of the house had told her not to disturb. Her heart pounded as she retraced the boy's boot prints on the dusty floorboards. On entering the room, her eyes followed the footprints leading curiously up to the gloomy picture of the girl; she recoiled in horror as her eyes took in the scene before her: the girl's pale hand rested on the shoulder of a new companion, one that was not meant to be there...her son.
It was a cloudy night; the darkness covered the city like a thick blanket. The wind blew gusts of air smelling of car fumes through the streets; it sneaked under the cracks of doors and whispered down sooty chimneys.
Mr Bell hurried down a dark street, holding onto his bowler hat so that the harsh breeze couldn't steal it. The wind blew harder, almost blowing the short, stout man off-course. Eyes narrowed, Mr Bell tried again to walk into the path of the determined gale. A hazy drizzle of misty rain drifted down in sheets, making him shiver and cough. Cursing the cold, he drew his coat tighter around his large figure. As he made to clamp his hat to his head again, he spotted something black and flapping on the pavement. An umbrella!
His heart leapt; the umbrella would be perfect! Feeling pleased with himself, Mr Bell ran towards it and snatched it up. The handle was smooth and glossy, and the waterproof dome was black and very large.
As Mr Bell raised it above his head, something remarkable happened. He began to feel lighter as he ran over the cobbled street, holding tight. Lighter and lighter. With a gasp, he realised that his leather shoes were no longer making contact with the pavement. He was flying! The wind lifted him up like hundreds of hands, all pushing upwards.
With a delighted and shocked shout, Mr Bell gazed down at the sprawling city below him. The street lamps looked like beautiful, luminous flowers reaching up to him. Cars reminded him of jewel-coloured beetles crawling through the concrete maze.
The wind led him towards the park; it was the only splash of green in a grey ocean of buildings and roads. Clutching the umbrella tightly, he drifted towards two bronze statues of lions guarding the park entrance. Mr Bell outstretched his free hand and reached towards one. As he passed, he patted it on its cold head. The lion roared deeply and shook its impressive mane, whilst watching the small man float past. Wide-eyed, Mr Bell swung himself away. The umbrella swayed dangerously and as he grasped the handle harder, he waited dizzily for the world to stop spinning.
Still the wind carried him on. He glanced back at the now still statues. The trees swayed in time with the umbrella as he drifted higher again. A white barn owl flew past Mr Bell like a winged ghost.
As he rose, he scanned the sprawling city for his house. There. He gently coaxed the umbrella down towards his street. The wind rushed down and with a bump, Mr Bell landed outside his house. He looked around to check that nobody had noticed him disembarking, before making his way up the garden path. The promise of light and warmth beckoned him inside. As he stood on the front porch, he folded the umbrella up and smiled as he thought about what an exciting bedtime story his daughters would have that night.