- Teaches students:
- Ages 8+
- Teaching since:
Howdy, young writers!
Do you know the formula for fiction-writing success? It may not be what you think.
1) Hard (FUN!) work
2) Good strategies
3) Helpful feedback
Let's explore these ideas a little.
1) Hard (FUN!) Work
If you think writing stories is hard work but you do it anyway because it's fun, then you already have the mind of a writer. Congrats!
2) Good Strategies
One time a teacher gave me a "D" on a writing paper. I felt devastated. I had never earned less than an "A" on my papers, and so I asked my teacher what I had done wrong. She said my writing was "like syrup." And I thought: huh??? I didn't have a clue what she meant.
Later, I found out my teacher wanted me to write with words that sounded like a picture. For example, if I wanted to describe a windy day, I should have used words like "whisper" and "wavy" and "whoosh." When my teacher explained the assignment like that, I understood. But it was too late. I already had a red "D" on my paper, and my grade in the class went down. The teacher even gave me a look that said "I'm so disappointed in you." Talk about crushing a writer's feelings!
That memory always reminds me how important it is to communicate ideas clearly BEFORE giving an assignment.
3) Helpful Feedback
When people tell you your story is "good" or "bad," how can you tell what they mean? You can't. Unless they can tell you what they mean in ways you can understand them, their opinions aren't very helpful.
That's why I have a policy of identifying what is effective in a story and what is ineffective--and then gently explaining WHY. This is the fastest way I know to help a writer improve.
When I was nine years old (a super duper long time ago!), I sat down to write a story. It was about a group of kids about my age who were daring each other to knock on the door of an old, scary house. A haunted house!
Unfortunately, I never finished the story. Why? I didn't know how. I wanted someone to help me get it down. But there wasn't anyone to help me back then.
I don't want other young writers to give up on their stories. That's why I'm here.
Now, as a late-in-life English major, I continue to enjoy the process of inventing, analyzing, and discussing stories. Especially spooky ones! :D