Secondary English

Co-authoring with My Father

By Robbie Gibbons


My dad, Alan Gibbons, was performing writing workshops in schools and community centres around the country. When I had time off from university I helped out. Part of the sessions involved ‘scaffolding’ a story with the kids. We would give them a step-by-step plot, but leave the characters, the description, the choice of words, to them, so that everyone produced an individual story. Establishing the basic framework of the narrative allowed their creativity to flourish, especially the struggling readers. One of the stories we used – and one of the most popular with the kids – was a werewolf story.


The basic plot was Alan’s, and some common themes emerged from the kids’ contributions – such as bullying – which we worked into the story for our Read On book, Lone Wolf. So you could say there were many co-authors! Alan had an ending in mind. We discussed a loose plot together, and I took it from there. In a way our co-authoring process wasn’t dissimilar to the scaffolding process we used in writing workshops. Alan created the bare bones of the story; I filled them out.


The sequel, On The Run, was more straightforward. We had a discussion about the direction it would take and I ran with it. Danny’s main challenge after Lone Wolf was facing the dangers of his situation alone; until he could control his abilities he feared getting too close to anybody. We introduced the character of Chloe with the potential to be his saviour or his peril. She added a new dynamic and, once the plot was centred around the development of their relationship, the story wrote itself.


Robbie Gibbons graduated with First Class Honours in Creative Writing from John Moores University in his home city of Liverpool. He has had a short story published in the collection Dark Spaces and his collaborations for Read On are his first full length published work.


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