Twice Told Tales: Story Writing Curriculum

My Meaningful Composition co-author (my oldest child Joshua) and I have been writing a novel for, um, four years now. Well, truth be told, he has been writing it for nearly twenty years as he started outlining it when he was eighteen years old. It is finished actually, but Joshua is a perfectionist (at teaching, instructional writing, lesson plan preparation, and novel writing), so it isn’t finished in his eyes. We recently got it back out, dusted it off, and dug in to find his perfect spot again (and add in more technology…do you know how much things change in our world in four years?).


Twice Told Tales: Story Writing Curriculum

I have written seventy-five books in the past fifteen years—averaging 800 pages a book. The first forty were completely new books, and the next thirty-five have been re-writes and new books taken out of the original forty (i.e. half of the MC lessons came out of Character Quality Language Arts, for instance). But it has been a long journey nonetheless.


Know How You Learn

Recently, my son and I were meeting about our novel. Joshua started to describe the changes he thought we should make to a particular scene and told me I could just jot down whatever I thought I needed to. I told him to hold on for a minute while I got a blank sheet of paper, then I promptly did the following:

1. Numbered each note as he spoke
2. Put sub notes under the note with the character’s initial and the motivational changes that Joshua thought we needed (M: Needs to begin this scene….)
3. Drew arrows to and from things as he spoke

Then when I was ready to rewrite that scene, guess what I did? I typed those notes all up–complete with the numbering and sub-numbering, etc.

Why am I telling you this? If you are a student, pay close attention to HOW you learn. I could not have written from paragraph notes. I could not have written with a word or two for each point. I could not have written from my handwritten notes–I needed to type it up in order to further understand it.

Whatever you do as a student to learn tells you a lot about how you learn! Utilize this information for test preparation, writing projects, and more. And like I always tell my students: “You know more than you realize you know!”

Writing With Descriptive Adjectives

Students writing stories this week? Parents/teachers helping kids with stories this week? Follow this “describing tip” we use with our student to help with the descriptions in your writing:

“Only use an adjective that will cause your reader to have a different picture in his mind than he would have without the adjective.”

For example, do not write “small, wooden, isolated cabin.” The picture that a reader gets when reading that is not much different than he would get if he just read “cabin.” By their nature, most cabins are small, wooden, and isolated (or at least we picture them as so).

Only use an adjective if it creates a different picture of the noun than the noun alone paints. Use specific and vivid adjectives–or omit them altogether. 

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