More Information on Books and School Visits

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Author's Club - Rocks!

Most Important Rule - No Laughing at Fellow Authors
Oakenwald School's Author Club is off and those young authors are writing up a storm of zombies, magical worlds, wilderness adventures, and mysterious disappearances.

Yesterday was our second meeting and we gained another writer bringing us to 15 eager young minds.

I told them I named them Writers-in-Training, WITs for short, and they looked less than thrilled by my enthusiastic announcement.

When I slipped and called them authors, many of them responded with surprise and excitement.

"We're authors!" rippled around the library.

They sounded like I gave them the best Christmas present. You know the one; the one you were hoping to get, but didn't dare ask for, because it was a long shot. It was too expensive or too hard to find, or didn't actually exist. I remember asking for a magic book that would let me travel to other worlds when I was about 8 or 9. Apparently Santa was all out that Christmas.

And once you give that perfect gift, you can hardly take it back. Unless you are a Grinch. (Which would suck, with that minuscule heart and all.) But I digress.

I, not a Grinch, quickly trashed my grand plan of a cute acronym because they were right. They know who they are better than I.

They ARE authors.

And they impressed me. Already, without prompting, most came to me with story ideas in hand. Many had begun to write and were through their first chapter.

Together we explored the school and became sensory detectives. What did we see, hear, smell, touch and even taste as we prowled the building?

Nigel Watts' 8 Point Story Arc - Next Week's Lesson
(I provided Smarties for the taste challenge. Who wants middle schoolers licking the hall walls in an attempt to hone their writing craft? Not I. Plus, I'd like to return next week.)

We assembled back in the library and shared our observations, highlighting what I like to call 2nd Level Observations.

What is a 2nd Level Observation? 

It is when a writer goes beyond the obvious of what they see, hear, taste, touch or smell and hooks it to another thought, feeling, or memory.

For instance, one young author said when she saw the previous years' class photos hanging in the hall, memories came to her. Memories of teachers and friends, and days gone by. This is 2nd Level Observation and I was thoroughly impressed. Did I mention she is 10 years old. 10, peeps. This is what an author in the making looks like.

I can hardly wait for next week. Already I see we have different skill levels, different story interests, and as important; different levels of writer-self-confidence a.k.a - WSF. (Yes, I made that up. I do love a tidy acronym.)

That is where I am going to pay particular attention, for beyond the writing skill set, successful authors need to "know" they can write. 
That can be a hurdle, which we will overcome together.

Great Resource for Young Authors
(And their instructors.)


  1. I LOVE this. I'm teaching a class of ten-year-olds next month and have been looking for ideas. This helped a lot. Any other words of advice? (They are in the gifted and talented program, but still, they're ten.) I only have an hour in the classroom. Any fun things besides these?

  2. An hour is so little time! lol. This is what surprised me most: most of the kids came with story ideas and characters. I thought I would need to encourage this. I have a quick plot outline sheet I can send you. FBook me your email address again. That was really well received. Tweak it as you like. Let them ask questions and ask them questions like, "Why do you think we did that exercise? Why is adding detail important?" Their answers will surprise you and you can build off their knowledge and compliment them along the way. Honestly, I think kids are smarter than we were at their age.

  3. Oh, thanks! Yay! I'm excited. Email is: mweidenbenner(at)comcast(dot)net

    I look forward to it. I had a children's picture book author teach a class at a conference and I shared it at my blog. I was going to have them each write their own picture book based on her outline, but I'm not sure there would be time. I found the outline simple though and felt confident I could teach it, but I like your idea better. And I LOVE how your encourage and make it about them.