AMHERST – Budding writers gathered up their pencils, hit the library and used their imaginations to come up with mystery stories yesterday at West Highlands Elementary School in Amherst.
The Grade 4 to 6 students took part in a class put on by Nova Scotia writer James Leck, who wrote a children’s book called The Adventures of Jack Lime.
During the seminar he asked the students to imagine their main character - a detective.
“What does your character look like, what is their hobby, what makes them really mad, what’s the worst thing that ever happened to them, what music would play every time they walked in a room?” he asked. “In my case I would love to have Darth Vader’s theme song going. If I really make it rich I’m going to have somebody walk around with a radio that plays that song all the time.”
Leck said it’s important to try to spark kids imaginations.
“So many kids today play video games or watch TV,” he said. “The imagination is a muscle and you have to use it to strengthen it. That’s what Stephen King said.”
After coming up with the main character, the kids were asked to come up with a crime.
He named about 10 different crimes, and then told them that it’s their story and they can come up with any crime they want.
“I’ll give you a minute to brainstorm as many crimes as you can,” said Leck to the students. “But no murders, especially your teacher.
“I always get a student who wants to murder her teacher,” he added as the kids laughed and teachers chuckled, while shuffling in their seats.
The students were then given a minute to come up with a motive for the crime, and then told to come up with a villain that committed the crime.
“That’s the best part,” said Leck. “Try to have fun. They can be real nasty and have a lot of power.”
Next the students were asked to dig up clues and nab the villain. Clues included gossip, witnesses, fingerprints, the tread of a shoe, and suspicious actions.
When the class finished Leck said, “If they walk away from this and there’s a few kids who take up writing then it makes it worthwhile.”
West Highlands Librarian Bev Fenton said the seminar was a great opportunity for the kids to see writing in a new light.
“It’s a great way to motivate the kids to read and write,” she said. “Also, I love it that the students get to meet a Canadian author, and a Nova Scotian author.”