I went on a shopping trip with my nieces and nephew the other day. All under ten, they asked the adults in the car to tell them a story. A made-up story.
My partner volunteered me. So, I decided to cheat.
I started telling them the plot to one of my feature scripts.
However, I came unstuck at the first line: “Jack is the son of a blacksmith.” And the inevitable question comes: “What’s a blacksmith?”
I realised this may be a problem in a film primarily about swords. However, I soldiered on and ended up diverting into a tale of adventuring, bandits and the relative merits of the longbow over the dagger as a weapon when you’re a child in the woods. Not sure I meant the moral of the story to involve imitable violence, but that’s what happens when you do these things on the fly.
Anyway, for my next story, I went with Bryn Celli Ddu. Adapting a story about teenagers into one about young children is pretty hard. But my nephew is the best story reviewer I’ve ever had. “Why did they do that? Why did he run away? What’s a kebab?”
And it made me realise that the ending wasn’t satisfying. When you can’t make it obvious that the end is the end, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
So, I propose that the next time you have the opportunity to tell stories to your children, nieces, nephews, Scout group, you pick one of your own. It may well be the best feedback you ever get.