We had our second session of Writers Experience last week and once again I wanted to share some of the students’ writing. We talked quite a bit about beginnings, setting a tone, and letting the reader know about your character. As we shared various picture books and our own writing, students drafted various beginnings and tried to engage the reader immediately. I believe the 4 examples from the workshop highlight how when children are provided the time, space, and guidance they embrace writing and their ability to touch readers with their ideas and stories.
“Ok, mom, I’ll wear my helmet,” I scream as I jump on my shiny purple bike. I toss the stupid princess helmet on the wet morning grass. I’m not going to wear that in public! I pedal off to the mall. It was the last day of summer. Sad, but perfect for now.
We learn so much about this character in the few lines the author provided. Additionally, the last line provides a sense of tension that coaxes the reader ahead. I’m thinking is it perfect for now because it’s still summer or is this a bit of foreshadowing that might have something to do with the bicycle helmet? Either way, as a reader, I’m intrigued and will definitely read on.
YEE-HA! My four-year old sister trotted through the hallway on her wooden hobbyhorse. A toothy grin spread miles across her face. A tattered cowboy hat was slanted over her forehead.
“Wacko,” I muttered under my breath.
In these few lines, the young author has brought her reader into a family dynamic that is both universal yet personal. The specific details of the four-year-old sister, including the tattered cowboy hat supports the reader’s ability to visualize and connect with the story. The one word response from the older sibling is perfect to promote older-sibling angst. As a reader, I’m extremely interested to see where this is going.
This is Loran. You’re probably wondering why she has wheels for feet. Well, it’s simple. She’s a robot.
I’ve included this beginning because of the author’s choice to speak directly to the reader and because of the how effortlessly the author, who is going into second grade, was able to grab the reader’s attention and create a beginning that has so many possibilities. As a reader, I’m interested to see where this is going and wondering if Loran’s wheels will be important to the story.
I squished my lucky ball. “Express. E-X-P-R-E-S-S. Express.” I smiled. I know I got this.
“Correct!” the judge exclaimed. “Kelly McDory, you’re going to the Championship. Congratulations!”
Smiles filled the room as I sprinted off stage and hugged my mom. “I knew you could do it!” she announced.
“Of course I couldn’t do it without my lucky ball,” I reply.
This author through dialogue and simple description “smiles filled the room as I sprinted off stage and hugged my mom” provides the reader with a glimpse into the character Kelly McDory. A character that is very relatable. The author also provides the reader with some hints as to what might happen with the story. I’m thinking it has something to do with her lucky ball.
While these authors have their own writing style, they have been able to engage the reader from the start by using dialogue and description, and by providing the reader with a glimpse into the character. Providing young authors with the time, space, and support to practice that which professional authors do, allows them to make sense of their world; their emotions and dreams and share their stories with the world.