Story Writing, Step 2

I’ve set myself a goal of writing a story. I’m very good at making entries in my notebook (or on my blog), and revising them a bit to make them public, but I rarely move beyond that to the hard work of crafting a story.   I’m using the ideas in Writing Radar by Jack Gantos to guide my work.  Last week I made a list of action and emotion words to get me ready to write.

I selected a few words off my list:

Action Words:  Parent, Sister, Dog, Scars

Emotion Words: Stunned, Embarrassed, Confused

This week I’ve been trying to take the next step.  We teach our students about the importance of oral rehearsal, so I’ve been trying to take entries that have some promise and rehearse them as stories.  One idea that I’ve been playing around with is the story of the day my father informed me that my dog, Pogo (the cutest Bassett Hound ever), had been found dead after many long days of searching and hoping.  Pogo had been my dog since the day I was born.  When I heard of his death, I was stunned.  I know I was devastated, but for some reason I couldn’t cry.  I was horrified at myself.  I thought something was terribly wrong with me. Of course it didn’t help that my younger sister bawled her eyes out for hours.

I’ve been trying to craft this experience into a story. I’ve been trying (as Gantos suggests) to write more often, to use story structure to organize my piece, and to use action and emotion throughout.  It’s been fun, but ever so challenging. As hard as I’ve been working, the piece just isn’t turning into anything good. I need help. I’ve decided to do one of the other things we ask kids to do; turn to a mentor.  As I was looking through some of my favorite stories, I came upon The Last Kiss by Ralph Fletcher.  This, I thought, is the way I want my Pogo story to feel.  So I’m going to spend this week using my mentor text to improve and inspire my story.

Let’s see what I can come up with  by next week.

8 thoughts on “Story Writing, Step 2”

  1. This experience is going to be so valuable for both you and the kids you work with. 1. You are going to capture a story from your life. 2. Going through this process will give you so many ways to connect with kids as they write. I’m confident that next week we will be reading about your pup. You picked an awesome mentor.

  2. I’m sure you’re going to get to the heart of it eventually. I remember hearing Ralph Fletcher say that he had written “Last Kiss” quite differently. It was an editor who suggested to him that he needed to find a way to end the piece. I think that’s a good mentor piece, though, because it’s a story without a real event to end it. That seems like yours in a way, too. The mystery to you is understanding your own response.

  3. I really give you credit for being so intentional about writing your story. I am not sure I could write a creative that intentionally, although that is what I expect my writer’s circle students to do and what I expect myself to do when I write an essay as a student for a class. I have actually been able to do some of my most creative writing by just thinking about the story in the shower, or while lying in bed at night. Just have a notebook ready to jot down your thoughts ….. Best of Luck!

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