10 — Getting it right
This sequence takes three approaches to ‘getting it right’. The sequence can only proceed once students have completed an interview. Many will find it advantageous to return to their subject after this sequence in order to add detail or collect more narrative data, images or sounds.
You may need to delay this sequence to enable everyone to have their narrative data ready. A delay between Sequences 11 and 12 may also be necessary.
Activity 1: Getting the details right
Discuss the level of detail in the stories. The students’ stories must provide some detail to give the narrative context and power. An absence of detail in dates, names and places leaves a story so vague that an audience will not be able to connect with it. On the other hand, they also need to avoid overloading the story with facts and figures. Ask the students to list all of the details they now have in their drafts.
Activity 2: Getting the ethics right
Return to the importance of ethics, privacy and sensitivity. Working in groups, the students will assess their own challenges, risks and ethical behaviour, as well as that of others in the group. It is vital that any problems or breaches are addressed as soon as possible and before commencing the next two sequences. The students should refer to the Ethical principles of life writing as a guide and checklist for this purpose.
Activity 3: Getting the media, language and length right
The students should aim for precision and maximum audience engagement, regardless of their choice of media. Provide editing checklists for those working in print, especially turning their focus to the literary devices discovered in the life stories studied throughout the unit. In addition, the Life story matrix worksheet will be invaluable for the students here: are they able to discern in their own stories what they expected of others? Invite them to identify some of the visual features of print stories in Dumbo Feather magazine, and especially the print story: ‘Kylie Kwong is a Chef’, considered in Sequence 5. The focus in this activity is on refining, styling, experimenting and innovating.
Finally, have the students ask themselves:
- Is this my best work?
- Have I given my subject a story, to be shared proudly with others?
- Am I proud of my story?
- Have I kept to the word and time limits? This matters. So often, less is more, and especially when it comes to maintaining the interest of the audience.