Here are some general exercises which can be applied to any novel. Specifically, my novel was Babe and that is why some of the exercises relate to animals. However, depending on the subject of your novel, you can adapt these exercises to it.
Complete each of these activities:
- As you read your novel, compile a list of themes that appear. These may include love, war, friendship, relationships, school, money, sport, crime etc. Present these in the form of a mindmap.
- Write a report summarising the themes that are explored in the novel. This will be similar to a book review, except that you will be focusing on what the novel reveals about the themes you have chosen.
- Select a scene from your novel that you feel deals with a major theme and write a script based on it. Be sure to include a list of characters as well as statement about setting and props. You should give your script a name and don’t forget stage directions.
Divide an A4 sheet of paper into 4 rectangles. In each, draw one of the main characters of the novel. Then, around each, write 7 adjectives which accurately describe the personality of each character.
Then, write one of the following
- A letter from a character to a friend, explaining or justifying his or her actions in the book.
- An extract from a diary kept by one of the main characters reflecting his or her private thoughts and feeling son one of the book’s central events
- A dialogue between one of the book’s characters and a counsellor, exploring the character’s motives and personality.
Draw on an A4 sheet of paper a map of the setting of the novel including all important land marks mentioned in the novel.
Write a one page summary of the plot of the novel. You need to include the setting, main characters and important events in the novel and a brief description of the resolution
One a full size sheet of cardboard, present a collage of different forms of writing (poems, newspaper and magazine articles, headlines, advertisements, titles or extracts of short stories, picture books, novels, encyclopaedia entries etc) and graphics (diagrams, sketches, photographs from magazines) about one animal or group of animals. Try to include a variety of different forms of writing and graphics ie. not all pictures from magazines or short stories. Try to present your collage imaginatively and clearly.
Draft and edit a piece of writing based on ONE animal. It may be a poem, a narrative, a dialogue between two animals, a newspaper report involving the animal, or anything you can think of. Use your imagination! Be as creative and descriptive as you can! Minimum 300 words.
Present an interesting 2 minute talk to the class on ONE of the following topics:
- Your collage
- An issue related to animals eg. should animals be used in circuses? animal cruelty, should owners be allowed to keep ‘vicious’ dogs, should animals be used in scientific testing?
- Pets – yours or pets generally
Design a new cover for your novel that reflects the themes within it. Make sure you design both the front and bank as well as the spine. This should be properly completed in colour and pen outlined where appropriate. Use a piece of A4 cut down and folded for this task.
Find a piece of thematically related material that is concerned with a major theme in your novel. It may be a magazine article, song, poem, newspaper article, TV show, film etc. You must read/listen carefully to the text and understand what information the text is giving you about the theme you have chosen. Once you have done this, you need to compare and contrast the different points of view between this text and your novel.