And what has Mr Saviour Pirotta been doing in Ingleton? Well, he’s been telling us stories of course. What else would an internationally renowned author and storyteller do? He told stories about Malta, where he comes from, of his grandma (she insists on a kiss), his 64 cousins (and of them, 17 are called Saviour!), and tragic tales of pirates, unrequited love, ghosts and flying heads (a true story). He’s also told us stories about Teletubbies (there used to be 6), Barbie and Ken (they’re not allowed to snog), clockwork ballerinas (top secret, actually) and a minor contretemps with a popular children’s author at a garden party…
But that’s not all. Mr Pirotta explained how we could tell our own stories too. “In every story”, he says, “the character has a problem, and at the end of every story the problem has been resolved”. So if the problem is giant shark kills townspeople then the solution should be townspeople kill giant shark. But the character can’t solve the problem straight away. That would be, as Mr Pirotta said, a very boring story. No, he went on, the character needs to have three solutions, two of which don’t work but the third does. The character also needs a friend, a ‘magic helper’ to assist them with their problem at the end. Mr Pirotta called this the ‘Story Ladder’ and it’s in five parts:
2) Failed Solution
3) Failed Solution
4) Successful Solution (with assistance from magic helper)
5) Problem Solved – THE END
“Of course”, Mr Pirotta explained “stories are often more layered and complicated than this, but this is how 99% of writers develop and plan their stories”. Mr Pirotta said that he knows some writers who cut out each of the five parts and put them on their office walls to help them when they are writing their stories.
So what stories did we tell? Well, the young people developed stories about a calf that couldn’t moo and a lioness that needed to protect her cubs from hunters. The grown-ups had ideas as well – a pot holing whodunit; how an illiterate single mother of 5 overcame the odds to become the most successful woman in her village, based on a true story and set in Victorian Ingleton. Someone else had a story about a woman who didn’t want to be a victim anymore.
Another was autobiographical, about experiences at a horrible school, which involved fights and overcoming bullies. There was a tale about a piglet, Barbie and Ken (again), and a widow who didn’t want to part with pictures of her late husband. Mr Pirotta was very impressed with our stories, and using the story ladder, helped us develop our ideas further. He also helped us write a 50 word pitch to help us focus on the story we wanted to tell.
Mr Pirotta returns to Ingleton in a month’s time. He’ll be with us on the 7th and 14th July, and he’s going to give us some more techniques we can use in our stories. We can’t wait. In the meantime, we have to keep thinking up stories and keep writing…