KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Character Creation and Backstory

Boilerplate Preface: As we practice PHYSICAL DISTANCING, I have decided to offer some of my after school creative writing workshop notes, tools, and exercises here for children of all ages.  If you would like to share your stories, you may do so in the comments- or if you have your own blog, you may post it there, but please link back to the post that inspired it, and then share the link to your post in the comments.

This is Part III in this series.  For parts I – II, V-IX, please see the following:

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Introduction

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – The KeyWords Method

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Clan Visitors- Choices to Make

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Flights of Fancy- Myths and Legends

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Challenges- Missions to Accept

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Leveling Up- New Skills and Talents

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Summer Celebration- Festivals and New Traditions

KeyWords Creative Writing: Catling Clans – Continuing the Story- The Dispersal


Catling Clans: Chronicles of Phoenix Clan

  • Character Creation and Backstory– Character Sheets, Dice, & Cat Imagery
  • Clan Visitors– Choices to Make
  • Flights of Fancy– Myths and Legends
  • Challenges– Missions to Accept
  • Leveling Up– New Skills and Talents
  • Summer Celebration- Festivals and New Traditions

Prologue: Phoenix Rising

There has been a Great Storm.

In the hills and valleys, it has swiftly changed the land; rain has filled the rivers and overflowed the brooks, cutting off roads, carving channels, uprooting trees.  Multiple fires have sparked and spread.  Creatures wild and tame have fled, seeking shelter, safety.

After days of rest, the survivors emerge to a world they do not recognize.  Many are far from home.  The Great Fire has left a scarred landscape.  Ash falls like snow, dusting everything with grey.  Soot smears the paws and faces of all.  Steam rises from hot, black stumps where a forest once stood.  Many homes have been saved, though many are displaced.

As you wander, trying to find your way home, you come upon a large rowan tree.  At its base sits a brilliant white cat, a spot of gray beneath her right eye, like a permanent tear.

“Welcome,” she whispers.  “I was called Victoria before the Great Storm and Great Fire.  Much has changed… as have I… as have you… as have we all.”

“You may call me… Persephone…”

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Sometimes I Teach

A little over ten years ago I was employed in one of my favorite jobs to date- school library manager.

Through my position, I was able to encourage more young readers, and on occasion, worked on collaborative story creation with them.  We created shared worlds inspired by what they were learning in class, and after school, I led a small shared world writing workshop (as well as a kids’ NaNoWriMo and other book-connected events, but that’s a story for another time).

It’s the collaborative and shared writing times that I enjoy most.  Working with the group on a shared theme, or simply writing at the same time, modelling the practice of writing- including stumbling blocks and changing my mind (or is it the story leading me elsewhere?) gives me great joy, and sometimes leads to stronger writing.

In the last few years, I have been able to bring that love of writing to a new group of kids through after school workshops at our local school (my own pay-it-forward project, I never charge a fee for this group).  I dubbed the most recent incarnation “Stone Soup Storytellers”, and we created an All-School play with adapted folktales, including Stone Soup, of course.

Most recently, I brought back the theme of Stone Soup and adaptation for a POV workshop with our Uppers students (grade 4-6, some of whom happened to have originally worked on the Stone Soup adaptation), and with our school adaptation of Into the Woods coming up, we’ve been focusing on fairy tales as our inspiration.  With our Middles (grade 2-3) I simply chose randomizers- but since this is me, my writing took a bit of a folktale path.

I present below *my* stories- may they entertain and inspire your own words.

(Feel free to use the images and links in this post as inspiration and share your own tales in the comments!)


There is a beautiful tradition at my son’s school involving the gift of a stone that everyone has held and put their loving thoughts into. This is my Stone, gifted to me after our production of Stone Soup Stranger. I carry it with me always, and I always shall.


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