This example is taken from a demonstration lesson I gave at a school, in an attempt to show Year 6 students how to make their narrative writing more stimulating. When I revealed how my simple sentences had been significantly improved, one of the little darlings piped up with the observation he thought it was from a Harry Potter story. Obviously, as an adult, I’d never heard of him, so, much to the observers’ amusement, asked the boy to tell me more, which, unfortunately, he did at great length, having read all the books! I include it here as an example of how quite complex ideas can be simplified, and vice versa, of course!

An old man appeared in the street. As he walked down it, the lights began to go out. When he reached the end, he sat on a wall next to a cat and suddenly started talking to it.


A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just popped out of the ground. The cat’s tail twitched and its eyes narrowed. Nothing like this man had ever been seen in Privet Drive. He was tall, thin and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak which swept the ground and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man’s name was Félix Potin, and he didn’t seem to realise that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome. He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realise he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, ‘I should have known.’ He had found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it up in the air and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop. He clicked it again – the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left in the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Hobbs, they wouldn’t be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement.  Félix slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street towards number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn’t look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.