Writing Scripts

I am happy to say that I am finally at the point in my TPRS career where I feel like I can write a story script! Surprisingly, it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Up until now, I have mostly been using Anne Matava and Jim Tripp scripts with my class. While there are some hilarious scripts, I started to feel like I was using a random collection of stories as my curriculum, and I didn’t like it. I wanted to have some sort of reason for choosing the structures I do. Of course I choose a lot of high frequency structures, but that didn’t narrow it down enough for me. After some emails back and forth with Martina Bex and some tweeting with Carrie Toth and Kristy Placido, I realized that I could backwards plan my lessons from the novel I want to study with my students. So this semester, I want to do Mira Canion’s La France en Danger et les secrets de Picasso with my French 10/20/30 split class. I started planning by going through the novel and picking out high-frequency structures or structures that were repeated throughout the novel that I thought my students would not already know. Sometimes I thought they would know “he/she wants” but not “they want” so I wrote down “they want” as a structure. They would likely recognize it, but I want them to be able to produce it so that when we read the novel, they can easily write about it and talk about it. Then when I had my list of structures, I looked it over and started picking phrases that I thought would go together well. It was partly random, but I was also trying to see which structures I could put together to create a story. Since it is getting close to Halloween, these are the structures I chose for the story we started today.

  • s/he is no longer
  • s/he is disguised as
  • they want
  • s/he does not see well

They may seem random, but 3/4 of them are very high-frequency structures. The other one (s/he is disguised as) adds some humour to the story, is relevant to the kids, and appears multiple times in the novel! Then I tried to think about how I could make this into a story. I also kept in mind structures that we had studied recently and thought about whether I could work them in somehow (ie. takes, gives, fortunately/unfortunately). This is is (somewhat boring) script I came up with. The great thing is, it doesn’t matter how bad your story is, because the students will change it into another story altogether! Here is what I came up with (in English). Email me if you would like a copy of the French version! I have written the script with all of the specific details are underlined – these are the things that your students can change when you “ask” the story. I generally write scripts and ask stories in the present tense and do readings in the past tense.

Jamie and Juliana want a cat. So they go to the pet store. But the salesman does not see well. He takes a shark and gives it to the girls. Jamie and Juliana do not want a shark. They are depressed. Fortunately, it is not a real shark, it is Chuck Norris disguised as a shark. Jamie and Juliana are no longer depressed.

Monica and Vahbiz want a unicorn. So they go to Disneyland. But Mickey Mouse does not see well. He takes a horse and it gives it to the girls. Vahbiz and Monica do not want a horse. They are angry. Fortunately, it is not a real horse, it is a penguin disguised as a horse. Monica and Vahbiz are no longer angry.

Jaemin and Alex want a leprechaun. So they go to the Lucky Charms factory. But the factory worker does not see well. He takes a pot of gold and gives it to the boys. Jaemin and Alex want a pot of gold. They are delighted. Unfortunately, it is not a real pot of gold. It is chocolate disguised as a pot of gold. Jaemin and Alex are no longer delighted.

The students never saw the original script, I just asked questions to get the answers I wanted. I started with, “There was a person. Who was it?” At first they were general. One person said, “A boy.” I asked for a name and we decided on Max. Sometimes I let the students decide, sometimes I decided arbitrarily, and sometimes I just picked the funniest answer. Then I asked if Max was tall or short. They said short and one girl suggested that he was a dwarf. I hadn’t done much circling at this point as these were all known structures and not what I was focusing on. I wanted there to be two people in the story, so next I said, “I have a secret!” When I say that, they all cup their ears, stomp a foot on the ground, and lean forward simultaneously. I told them he has a brother, and one kid called out that it was Shaquille O’Neal! We couldn’t go wrong from there. Here is the whole first location of the story that we came up with in the end. We still have lots left to create today!

There was a boy named Max . Max was a dwarf. He was charming , rich, and good-looking. His brother was Shaquille O’Neal. Max and Shaq wanted a dog. They did not want a normal dog , they wanted the dog Barack Obama. They wanted his dog because his dog was an amazing chihuahua. His dog was a big rainbow-coloured chihuahua. It was as big as a horse. So they went to the White House by magic carpet . Barack Obama was at the White House , but Miley Cyrus was also there. Miley Cyrus could not see well. She was nearly blind and she needed glasses. She had no glasses because a wrecking ball struck her glasses and now they are broken into pieces. So, because Miley Cyrus could not see well , she took Barack Obama’s cat and gave it to the boys. Max and Shaq did not want a cat. They were sad, but they did not cry . Instead of crying , they took Barack Obama’s big chihuahua secretly . Unfortunately, it was not a real dog , but Michelle Obama disguised as a dog. Max and Shaq were no longer sad, they were completely depressed.

The Missing Pants

There is a girl. The girl has no pants. She wants to buy white pants with green polka-dots. She goes to a club. Lady Gaga is singing at the nightclub. She is wearing green pants with white polka-dots. The girl is not sad. She is happy because she is dancing!

But there is a problem. Lil Wayne works at the club. He is mad. He says to the girl, “No pants, no club.” The girl leaves the club. She goes to a store. At the store there are beautiful white pants with green polka-dots. But the girl doesn’t have any money. She doesn’t have money. She can’t put her money in her pockets because she has no pants.

A boy works at the store. He says to the girl, “No money, no pants.” So the girl hits the boy. The boy falls asleep. The girl returns to the club. She dances all night and she is very happy.

Source: Elizabeth Hayles, Madame Hayles and the TPRS Experiment

Canadian Dogs

Lenora is Canadian. She would like a Canadian dog. She would like eleven Canadian dogs. Canadian dogs love to watch Canadian hockey games on TV. Lenora wants towatch hockey with the dogs. She visits her cousin. Lenora’s cousin is Canadian. Lenora’s cousin is smart and he is rich. Lenora says to her cousin “I would like eleven dogs!” But the cousin has 8 dogs. The dogs are English! English dogs prefer to watch English football.

Lenora phones her friend. Her friend is Mexican. She lives in Acapulco. Lenora phones her friend and says, “Hello my friend! I would like eleven Canadian dogs! I would like to watch hockey with the dogs.” But her friend says “I have eleven Mexican dogs. They prefer to eat enchiladas and watch football. My Mexican dogs are very small – they are Chihuahuas!”

Oh la la … Lenora is sad. Lenora cries. She cries for seven minutes eighteen seconds. She cries like an orange hippopotamus. Simon Cowell listens – he listens to Lenora! He prefers to listen to Lenora (who is crying like an orange hippopotamus) than to listen to Paula Abdul. He visit Park and Swap with Paula Abdul. A Canadian buys Paula Abdul for eight cents Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell buys eleven Canadian dogs for Lenora. Now Lenora is happy! She dances with Simon Cowell. Lenora returns to Phoenix with eleven Canadian dogs.

Source: Unknown, TPRS Stories

Hungry, Thirsty and Tired

Justin is going home after school. On the way home, he gets hungry, so he goes into the nearest house without knocking and takes fish from the refrigerator. The fish has been lying there for 99 days and smells awful. Justin eats the fish and goes on.

Then Justin is really thirsty. He goes into the next house without knocking, opens the refrigerator, and takes 100 liters of watermelon juice from the fridge. He drinks it and goes on.

Then Justin is really tired. He enters the next house without knocking, and lies down to sleep. Unfortunately there is already someone in the bed. It’s a large dog, and the large dog chases him out of the house.

Source: Michele Whaley, TPRS Stories

Kevin’s Xbox

Kevin loves Xbox. He has an Xbox console and 3579 video games. But he is crying. He has no Xbox controller. Kevin needs an Xbox controller. He goes to Jennifer Engelhass’s and cries. She asks “What’s going on?” He needs an Xbox controller. He says “I need an Xbox controller? Do you have one? ”

Jennifer says, “Don’t cry.” She says “There you go” and gives him a bag. Kevin says “Thank you very much” and opens the bag. He looks in the bag. Kevin screams like a cat, “AIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII !!!!!” Jennifer asks “What’s the problem? Give me the bag, please.” Kevin says nothing, but he gives her the bag. Jennifer looks in the bag and laughs. “Oops! Wrong bag. ”

She gives Kevin a second bag. Kevin laughs. There is €4680 in the bag. He goes to Lola’s House of Electronics. He says “I need an Xbox controller.” Lola says, “There you are” and gives him an Xbox controller. Kevin says “Thank you very much.” Lola says, “€5,120, please!” Kevin explodes.

Source: Byron Despresberry, TPRS Stories