"Write a Story," his teacher said, and Riley dove in excitedly!
Okay, you are permitted to ask yourself, "Sixth Grade? Is she kidding?!"
Bear with me, I think this will be relavent for adult writers also.
Riley is currently writing an Action-Adventure Novel, so this was the perfect way to see how it was going with the toughest critic he could find...his Language Arts Teacher!
First, he wanted to understand the parameters:
- How long does it need to be?
- When is it due?
- How many drafts will be required and graded?
Okay, as adult authors, our parameters might be a little different, but these actually correlate quite well, since they speak to the two most important elements: deadline and audience.
Understanding the parameters allowed him to sit down and write a three page first draft story/scene from his novel in about an hour, after finishing his math and science homework, of course. Keep in mind, he has not actually started writing his novel, he has only created character profiles in Scrivener. He has written most of his novel in his head, however, which leads to his first tip:
- "Your story starts in your imagination", and it has to live there for a while for you to love it and write it. NaNoWriMo aside, we need to have digested our stories a bit before we actually start writing them, otherwise, we have no framework from which to create something coherent. The longer you live within the world you create, the more you know its possibilities and limitations - but don't die there!
- "Decide how your story talks" by choosing how to start it. Is this first person, third person or narrative? Does it start in the middle of the action, or does someone tell you what they see?
- "Write what you hear, see and smell" when you are in your imagination story write as if you are actually there. This is easy if you also read books in the genre for which you write.
- "Have a beginning, middle and end" that keeps people waiting to see what happens next, and is consistent with the world you created. Don't forget that your characters' actions need to be consistent within that world, too!
These tips may seem elementary, but we all need to come back to the basics when we start getting too hung up on semantics, publishing details, formatting, cover art, day jobs, social media, and our family life.
As for Riley, he got the critique he needed, along with a surprise. He received 100% for his efforts, and the teacher asked if she could read it to the class as an example of how to write a great story! She also asked Riley if she could copy it to share with future sixth grade classes.
Riley smiled sheepishly, and said, "Sure."
This 11 year old writer is floating on cloud nine, and motivated to write the rest of the book.
We haven't talked about publishing yet, but I'm confident that MommyLoves Publishing will work out a deal!
Do you ever stray from just writing freely from your imagination? If so, what do you do to get yourself back on track? Thanks for sharing your ideas!
~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
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