Tips for Writing Stories to Promote Playcentre

When it comes to writing stories to promote Playcentre, WRITE with PLAY in your HEART!

(yes, this is cheesy; but who doesn’t love cheese!)

1.     Give ’em something that STICKS. One key IMAGE goes a long way

-         Something sticky and disgusting that just won’t wash out!

-         Something that will stick in the minds of readers and that may be used as a title and/or in the last line of your story.

-         nitty gritty details so readers can see and hear and feel what’s going on. Way more interesting than vague statements about what we do at Playcentre…

2.     PLAY. Play is powerful stuff and it’s the very thing we want to celebrate about Playcentre. So, it’s vital we have fun in the stories we write about Playcentre. Give readers something unexpected or add humour if you can. Don’t get too serious about it all!

 You can show learning without using the word ‘learning’; you can show strong relationships without always pointing these out. At times it’s important to highlight these, but don’t overdo the serious stuff!

3.     Make it AUTHENTIC and PERSONAL. Put yourself in the story: personal pronouns (I, we, us); language that is authentic, anecdotal, intimate in tone.

4.     Short and sacchariferous – make it ‘sweet’!

- Simple words are often better than fancy ones

- Short sentences add energy and punch. Mix up sentence lengths.

- Omit needless words. William Faulkner encouraged writers to ‘murder your darlings’, which is a horrible metaphor, especially in the context of Playcentre. But he was referring to words. It is sometimes really helpful after you’ve written a story to go back and delete the first para and the last. 

5.     Edit. All writing comes out a bit crappy to begin with. Keep working at it with Play in your Heart as well as the murderous design that Faulkner prescribes (if that’s possible?). Let someone else read it too.  


The following is a little story I wrote about a child or six in a moment or three during a session at Leithfield Playcentre some time between summer and autumn this year. At the hui on April 6th, I gave out cards with segments of this story, alongside segments of another story – the other version much more serious in tone, but perhaps not as appealing. We talked about language a little, and how people want to hear positive and playful messages about Playcentre.  

Coughing up Bark Chips

Mabel is one and loves eating bark. She only has six teeth. And she shovels things in with great gusto. But this isn’t a story about how Mabel choked in the playground.

Today there was an obstacle course. It was half cool and half a bit lame – you know, we ran out of equipment and ideas to get the different parts to meet up. But the cool half had a bridge. And to get across the bridge you had to pay a toll. Delia, one of our big girls, had this idea. She also had lots of ready money – bark chips.

The kids collected these in a bucket and started paying variable amounts each time they crossed. Another big girl dictated the cost each time and the kids counted the chips and inserted them into a slot in the bridge. They landed back where they started, on the bark floor.

Of course, being Playcentre, their travels involved coughing up bark chips to pay a toll and confronting a troll, because ‘toll’ automatically conjures up ‘troll’ – a far more palpable image for kids to connect with.

This troll was a smiley-growly one. You know: menacing growl, beaming smile, twinkly eyes. Now, payment for crossing the bridge simply involved letting out a squeal of acknowledgement: ‘Aggghhhh, there’s a troll down there’.

While the big kids played a more complex, at times confusing, game, Mabel crawled into the tunnel, a biscuit in each hand and stayed in there – where no-one could get her – munching away.






Tips for writing stories to promote Playcentre

Posted: Tuesday 26 April 2016