7th Grade Writer’s Workshop Writing Realistic Fiction Bend One Creating and Developing Meaningful Stories and Characters Teaching Target You will begin to collect ideas for stories by paying attention to the small moments around your own life. Session 1 – Imagining Stories from Everyday Moments Brainstorming Where do you think authors get their ideas for books? Examples: John Green – Gets his ideas from people – types of people, people with a problem, people at a certain point in their lives JK Rowling – Was stuck on a train – when the idea for Harry Potter came to her – so locations can inspire a story Tim Green – Interests and personal experiences – many of his books are set around a sporting event – he used to play football for the Atlanta Falcons so he draws on his experiences Finding Small Moments Strategies Modeling Strategies: Think of… A time when you had very strong emotions Of a person important to you Of the first time you did something Of the last time you did something Of a time you learned a lesson from something you did or experienced Of places you have been or like to go Example: Places I have been and Strong emotions I was taking my first trip out of the country to visit my daughter in New Zealand. My parents dropped me off at the airport in Chicago. I was so excited to use my passport…when checking in I put it in the wrong slot and got it stuck… As I remember that time I think of ways to use that story to write others… More Ideas As I was working on that story, many ideas popped into my head for fiction stories that I could write. Maybe I could write a whole fiction story a woman that travels and keeps doing things backwards. Maybe I can write a story about a passport and all the places it has been. Think-Pair-Share Small Moments Strategy Handout Think of a small moment that has happened in this classroom so far this year. Use the small moments strategies chart if you need it Now turn to a partner at your table and share your ideas. Make sure to tell it with dialogue, action and thinking. If, as you’re telling your partner a story, you get an idea for a possible fiction story that could be built off of it, go ahead and share that new idea too. REMEMBER… Great fiction ideas reside in small moments from our REAL life experiences and emotions. Writer’s Notebook Spend the next few minutes, jotting down small moments from your lives, using the handout Are you stuck? Think about the ‘setting’ of events. Almost any location will work to help you produce a fiction story. Principal’s office backyard grandmother’s kitchen fast-food restaurant On your handout add these 2 strategies: Think about a place that matters and jot about the small moments that occur there, choose one, and write a story. Then, spend a few more minutes jotting small moment stories in your writers notebooks. Assessing our writing Let’s look at the Grade 6 Narrative Writing checklist Printable Copy Assess this small moments story with me Printable Copy This often takes me more than one look at the story to check all the areas! Example Story: “Hi! Good morning everyone,” I heard the teachers say as we hustled through the front doors of the school before the bell rang. I pulled my backpack up on my shoulder and turned left. Then, all of a sudden I felt it. The ground was wet, from all the snow that had melted off of everyone’s warm winter boots. It was enough to send me sliding down the floor at lightning speed. Before I knew it I had fallen, onto my butt, in a puddle of dirty water. “Did you see that?” I heard someone whisper. “Are you ok?” someone else stammered. My mouth dried up as I quickly stood and ran to my locker. Now you try Using one of the small moment stories you have started: • Read the story and assess your own writing with the check list • Star two or three things you think you are doing well Homework: Carl Hiassen admits that he reads newspapers to get inspiration for his fiction stories. He looks for interesting and quirky stories that really happened and imagines how he might change them. On a separate sheet of paper, jot down as many ideas as you can for fiction stories. Look at a blog or newspaper for inspiration if you have time. You will be showing me this in class tomorrow, so make sure you do it! Session 2-Imagining Stories You Wish Existed in the World Teaching Point: Today I want to teach you that writers collect ideas for stories by both discovering tiny details that could blossom into whole stories and by thinking about stories that they believe should exist. Think “How can I write a story for people like me so I can see myself in books? We like finding ourselves in the books we are reading. It makes it more exciting to us. Examples: books on divorce when our parents are splitting up, books on being selected last for a sports team, etc… Demonstration-Past Student First, A new student thought about the books they wanted to read. Wished there was more books about people like her who were new to school and the area. Maybe about a girl that wants to be more popular than she is. Her story plan: A girl who is new to the area lives with both her parents but she thinks her father works too much. She wishes her father were around more because when he’s around she feels less lonely. But his job keeps him far away and the little girl tries to put on a brave face so her parents don’t worry about her. Can you see how when she wrote she jotted a few sentences like how she might actually write the story? She didn’t just tell what her story idea was. Here’s an idea you should hold onto: when you are collecting ideas for stories in your writer’s notebook, you get ideas not only from rereading old entries, but from thinking about books you wish existed in the world! Your Turn… So let’s try it with this example, “I wish there were books about kids who aren’t that good at sports.” Remember that to make that wish into a story idea, you need to invent some details. You can do so by asking questions of your story idea. Why isn’t the kid in the story good at sports? Which sports? What has happened lately that shows these struggles? Turn and Talk Tell your partner how you could turn this into a story idea. Remember to think about the character, his or her traits, and their struggle. Think about the characters wants and what he or she does. Who would like to share their detailed story idea with the class? Another method to creating stories… Think about an issue that is important to you, and create a character who struggles with that issue. Examples: Maybe honesty is important to you, so you write the topic at the top of the page and then you brainstorm all the stories that could stem from honesty. You could write about a character who lies and gets caught or about a parent who insists on honesty, except one time the kid caught their parents lying. Write Using the ideas list you have generated or one of the ideas from today…begin a small moment story. Write the first paragraph that introduces the story and characters If you like it keep going, if you don’t try another idea! Continue collecting story ideas! You can use any of the strategies we’ve learned or others that you invent. Add the following to your notebook! Add these to your strategy handout! 1. Read about current events and be inspired by true events that could be fictionalized. 2. Ask, “What stories do I wish existed in the world?” Let this question lead you to invent a character with traits, struggles and actions. Time to Share! Symphony Sharing Rules for Symphony Sharing: 1. No commenting. Just listen to the story ideas! I want to give you a chance to share your ideas, quickly, before writing time is over. When I point to you, give a short synopsis of just one of your story ideas. Tell us: 1. 2. 3. The name of your character What his or her struggle or longing is The circumstances he or she is in that swings the story into action. Homework: Complete the handout for one of the following: From your list - Choose a meaningful story idea! Think about which story idea you like best. Which of these stories feels the most meaningful to you? Or you might consider, which one does the world need you to write? Don’t write the story itself for homework! Just complete the handout provided! Session 3- Developing Believable Characters through Scene Boot Camp Get out your homework from yesterday! Teaching Point: Today I want to teach you that, just as people take a car for a test-drive before buying it, writers take their characters from a possible story out for a test scene. They place their characters in everyday scenes, outside of the storylines, and then see how their characters think, move and act. Writing Advice A few years ago, I was on a story for a college writing class, a fiction story, and I was just at the beginning. I wasn’t exactly sure how my story would go or what my character was really like. But then my writing teacher made a suggestion. She said I should take out my notebook, set aside the story I was thinking about, and just place my main character in an everyday scene. You know, like washing dishes, or getting up in the morning, or having dinner. Something the character does almost every day, as a way to get to know who the character really is, what the character thought about, wanted. So I tried it. I actually tried just getting my character ready for bed. But, as I wrote the scene, something really interesting started to happen-not only did I get to know the character better, but it almost felt like the character was coming to life, almost as if she was writing the story. What is a scene composed of??? Are small moments or mini-stories Include a clear setting that is woven throughout the moment Have characters who are thinking, talking, acting, or perhaps doing all those things Contain a character motivation and obstacle of some sort Watch Video Clip to identify parts of good scene! Boot Camp Procedure We will be writing a scene boot camp. I’m going to lead you through a writing exercise where you write as fast and furiously, getting as much writing down as possible, while you also practice your scene writing skills. I’ll give you a little tip, then I will model it with my own writing. Then you’ll give it a go. We will repeat the procedure a few times. Just remember that not everything I teach you will be something you will be able to do or will work for your scene right now. That’s ok! Just keep working on the last thing you were working on and then catch up with me on the next part. Demonstration First, I need to think about the character and story idea I chose: the girl who knows it’s silly to feel this way, but she wants to be popular-mainly because she has a birthday party coming up and wants people to come to it. Now, I have to think a bit about who she is as a person and jot a few notes. Parents are old fashioned Esmerelda-beautiful name but not usually associated with popular people Strange Wants friends and is friendly Tries too hard and comes off weird Now you try it! Next Step Now that you’ve created a quick background for your character, let’s try them on for size in an everyday scene. I’m going to start with Esmeralda having lunch at school. Esmeralda walked into the lunch room, holding her lunch bag in her hands. Even though everyone else in the school, it felt like, bought school lunch, Esmeralda was a picky eater. Now you try it! Aha! As I was writing, I learned something about Esmeralda-that she is a picky eater. She is different even when it comes to lunch. I also learned something about my writing! I wrote in third person, but I’m wondering if it might flow better if I wrote in first person? Realistic fiction allows for either. First Person I stood in the doorway of the lunchroom, half hiding behind the vending machines, clutching my lunch bag. There were a few kids who also brought their lunch from home, but almost everybody else bought from the cafeteria. I waited for Tilly to come through the kitchen doors. Then waved to her as she headed to our table, the one closest to the janitor’s closet. Thoughts? Which version was better? First Person is Better…for now! Did you see how I developed the setting a bit more and started to work in a little bit of information about Esmeralda as I wrote? I tried to show what she was feeling-that she was nervous-by having her hide behind the vending machines until she saw her friend head for the table. Try your own scene writing! Be aware of the setting and the character’s feelings! Show not Tell! Make sure your characters are doing things! Small (like folding a piece of paper) or big (like getting into an argument). Your characters might be talking or thinking. Make sure you show and not tell. Try again! Remember to include what the character is feeling. But don’t tell us. Think of small actions that can show us! Add dialogue Describe what the character wants in this scene and what obstacles are getting in their way. Other things to think about…as you continue to write Show the setting. Where is the character right now? What little detail of the setting can you mention? Describe what the character is thinking. Make sure someone says something in the scene you are developing. Show your character’s actions. Have your character make a decision. ***After they’ve written for awhile… How to Write Compelling Fiction Brainstorm a great story idea (small moments, places, events, issues, struggles, stories you wish existed in the world). Make your characters come alive. Generate traits Reveal wants and challenges Consider character’s attitude toward self Explore character’s relationships with others. Describe character’s movements, facial expressions, tics, style, quirks, etc… Make sure your character does things, big and small. Show feelings Include dialogue Develop the setting Try different points of view (first and third person) Test-drive your character in scenes. Options for working today… Work on your character development today OR Finish finding the perfect story to write about and then move onto character development If you need help developing your characters—See your teacher at the writing table. Character Development Internal Characteristics of your Character External Characteristics of your Character Homework Finish developing your character if you haven’t already. Session 4 - Time to Share! Today to begin you we will ask some of you to be brave and share some of your work from yesterday. Share Your best sentence Your best paragraph One way you are showing something about your character not tellin Session 4-Giving Characters Struggles and Motivations that Mirror Real Life Character Development Internal Characteristics of your Character External Characteristics of your Character Creating a character traits “T” Chart Internal Characteristics: Thoughts Feelings Emotions Ideas Goals Dreams Fears Appearance Expression Physical Abilities/Inabilities Clothing Hairstyle Glasses/No glasses Braces/No braces Race/Ethnicity (this could be internal as well) When you are done with the main characters make smaller External Characteristics: You already have much of this information – chart what you see in your story and ideas now charts for any minor characters you have introduced. Today’s Teaching Point: Good characters in fiction have real life struggles that they need to deal with. They also have things that motivate them to overcome their struggles. This is something we must put in our writing! Identifying Characters Motivations and Obstacles Identifying Motivations and Obstacles in Movies In your writer’s notebook jot the obstacle or motivation for the main characters in each of these clips: Forest Gump Soul Surfer Pursuit of Happiness Explore Your Character’s Motivations and Obstacles What Esmeralda Wants (Motivations): Lots of friends No enemies To be invited to lunch tables To make sure no one feels left out and to be friendly to everyone To have a boyfriend What gets in the way of Esmeralda (Obstacles): Her shyness Her lack of self-esteem Her nerdy appearance Her friends who are just like her Former best friend befriends the school bully and picks on her Characters Struggles and Motivations Motivations/Wants Obstacles/What Gets in the Way of those Wants Your Turn! In your writers notebook (date your entry)…explain what your character wants and what gets in their way. With a partner… Discuss your main character and any important minor character(s)! Begin with a specific compliment. Then move onto one specific suggestion or tip. Question one another! Make necessary changes to your character! For the rest of class today… Finish developing your main character Use the T-Chart to help you. Develop any minor characters that will be a part of your story! Use a T-Chart to help you. Use the T-Chart from today to finish giving your main character motivations and obstacles. Do your minor characters need motivations and obstacles? If so, fill out the T-Chart for them! Today is the last in-class day to develop your characters! When you are finished you can read your SSR! Session 5 Recap – Getting ready to Plot your story We generated ideas Looking at the everyday – small moments Thinking about a setting Stories we wish existed in the world We thought about the main character in our story Background Info – Family, Name, Quirks Internal and External Characteristics Motivations and Wants We put them into everyday situations and watched how they would react Session 5-Plotting with Tools Your characters are alive – you know all about them…so what story will you put them in? Teaching Point: Drafting possible plots for your stories. Fiction writers plan by plotting the arc of the storyand specifically, by aiming to intensify the problem. They do this by using what they know about plotting and then choosing a variety of tools to help them plan. Kurt Vonnegut-Anecdote Story arcs are commonly used when planning a story. There are many options! We are going to take a look at one author who laid out many different story arcs: 1. Man in Hole He described it this way: “You will see this story over and over again. People love it and it is not copyrighted. The story needn’t be about a man and a hole. It’s this: somebody gets into trouble, gets out of it again. It isn’t accidental that the line ends up higher than where it began. This is encouraging to readers.” Another one… What does this story describe? It’s a famous one! The arc begins low and a truly despondent girl whose mother died and whose dad remarried a horrible woman with two horrible daughters who treat the girl like a servant. Things are as bad as they could be for this girl. Importance of Using Story Arcs They help you to figure out the rises and the falls of your own plot because they remind you that it isn’t one event after another, with no real change or climb. They also show you that something is going to happen, and things are getting tough. Then something changes that solves your character’s problem. After that, things change and your character is different, and there isn’t a feeling of anticipation anymore. Typical Stories Earlier this year, we discussed how stories usually go-that the main character has wants, and something gets in the way of him or her getting them. So the character encounters a problem (or multiple), which give movement to the story. Often, the problem intensifies before getting resolved, with the character experiencing several challenges along the way. Or it gets resolved a different way than the character imagined or hoped for. Each scene builds on the one before it! Thirteen and a Half Read the story together Discuss: how the story went, how the events fit together, and what its shape is. Thirteen and a Half Story Arc When the author began writing this story, she probably didn’t know exactly which choices she would make, so she tried out different scenarios! Esmeralda Story Arc When we plot our Esmeralda story… Character will struggle to achieve what she yearns for She will make choices Some choices may not work out (don’t know which ones yet) Something will happen though that makes a difference! She will find a way to resolve the struggle or she will change her sense of what she wants As our story arc climbs and changes, Esmeralda will take actions and things will happen as a result. Partner work With a partner, create a possible plotline for the shared class story on Esmeralda. Remember we left her – going into the cafeteria with her bagged lunch even though everyone else bought lunch. She was waiting for her fried Tilly. Use the story arc! Esmeralda Story Esmeralda walked into the lunch room, holding her lunch bag in her hands. Even though everyone else in the school, it felt like, bough school lunch, Esmeralda was a picky eater. I stood in the doorway of the lunchroom, half hiding behind the vending machines, clutching my lunch bag. There were a few kids who also brought their lunch from home, but almost everybody else bought from the cafeteria. I waited for Tilly to come through the kitchen doors. Then waved to her as she headed to our table, the one closest to the janitor’s closet. As I walked past Liz and Maeve’s gossip table, I overheard them. As the two girls talked, I felt uncomfortable. I slowed so I could get a good listen. “I know, right?!” said Liz. Maeve giggled and responded, “Yes, Tilly’s hair today is atrocious! Who taught her to style hair?” The room felt really hot all of a sudden. I was beginning to wish I had worn a lighter shirt. This one was making me sweat. Just then I noticed that they knew I was listening in. I didn’t know what to do. I looked down at my phone, checking for text messages that weren’t there. Then I noticed how dirty it was and made myself concentrate on slowly cleaning the screen with the bottom of my shirt before continuing my journey to the lunch table and to Tilly. After lunch the rest of the day went fairly quickly and before I knew it I was sitting on the steps of the school waiting for my bus to arrive when suddenly, Maeve came up and invited me to the party! Partner work continued Talk with your partner and think about what the first scene in the arc should be. The starting scene should bring Esmeralda to life, show what she yearns for, and show the trouble (which we already know will be her conflicting feelings of wanting to be popular but not wanting to change who she is go become well liked). Remember, things need to escalate and become more difficult before they change, so think about how we’ll make Esmeralda's problem get worse. Turn and begin planning the start of the arc. Share with the class! Volunteers to share their beginning of their story arc???! Now, close your eyes and imagine what might happen next. Now talk about it! Keep in mind, you need to SHOW (not summarize) her struggle, and the problems need to get worse. Turn and plan As you go, draw your story arc together on a separate sheet of paper, labeling it like you saw in the sample Thirteen and a Half Share with the class! Summarize what Esmeralda has done/felt so far in your story arc. Remember many times we need to experiment before we make a selection! Another summary??? Your Turn… Go back to your own story and begin creating multiple story arcs for your story (draw them out like the example if that helps you!) Aim for 2-3 different story arcs, each one should naturally be better than the last one. Too easy/hard? Instead of an arc, try using a timeline, storyboards, flowcharts or a list. Find a method that works best for you! Remember… How to Write Compelling Fiction: Brainstorm a great story idea (small moments, places, events, issues, struggles, stories you wish existed in the world). Make your characters come alive. Test-drive your character in scenes. Plot several versions of your story, aiming to intensify the problem (use arcs, timelines, storyboards, etc…) Mid-Work Teaching Don’t forget: the shape of a story, where it starts and ends, says a lot about what matters to the author! If the story is about the importance of fitting in-or how much it doesn’t really matter if you are true to yourself-then it makes sense to have the beginning of the story with a character struggling to fit in and the last scene be a scene that clearly shows how the character feels now about fitting in. Stop and ask yourself, what is my story really about? You are now ready for the grade 7 checklist! Great job writers! You’ve grown leaps and bounds so far! As I pass out these checklists, pick out a few scenes that you want to assess. Assess yourself on those scenes! Now, set two or three goals for yourself and write them in your writers notebooks. Add today's date and use the grade 7 checklist to create them! Homework: A good writer can know if they are on the right track if they can say what their story is about in one sentence. Esmeralda Story: Esmeralda is a girl who likes being different but part of her wants to be popular, so one day she goes to a party and finds herself having to decide whether it is more important to be popular or true to herself. Tonight: 1. Finish your story arcs. 2. Pick one that you think describes how your story goes and then try your hand at writing a one sentence summary. This might take some time! ***Tomorrow we begin drafting our stories!