Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Inspire Kids to Write: Five Writing Tools to Help Them

             My oldest daughter hated to write. I love to write and wasn’t sure how to help her. Through the process of helping her and others I’ve discovered that sometimes you just have to require that a student write and they may or may not ever like it. But they will learn to see the value of it and there are a few tools that can help them succeed and make it a little less painful. Here are five tools you can use to help students with their creative writing efforts.

  1. Teach them to brainstorm. There are so many ways to brainstorm for a new idea: making lists, clustering, brainstorming charts and more. One of the things I love most is to be in the middle of a group of kids brainstorming for ideas. They have so many, once you get them thinking about it. There is something about writing it down, making something visual with it and talking and asking questions that makes it fun to create ideas for a story line. Some of them get a little crazy, it’s true, but wading through the crazy, silly ideas is how you sometimes get to the good ones. For more ideas on brainstorming see my author site. http://www.melanieskelton.com/brainstorming.htm
  2. Teach them to outline. Sometimes the ideas feel too big and complicated. If you can give them a tool to help them organize their ideas, it may be just what they need to help them move forward with a story.
  3. Keep a dream journal. You never know where your great ideas for writing are going to come from. The novel I am currently working on really did come from a dream, and it is the best idea I think I’ve had for a novel, so far. Sometimes dreams are confusing or seem silly, but when you get in the habit of writing them down, you train your brain to remember. A dream that seems silly may even trigger a thought that turns into an idea for a story. You just never know.
  4. Keep a quote journal. One night I sat at a basketball game just writing down everything I heard somebody around me say. It’s an interesting exercise. Reading it later is interesting. Whether at the grocery store or at a sporting event there are conversations going on around you. Learn to hear these and write down at least the interesting ones. You’ll learn to hear how people speak. Again, ideas for stories can come from anywhere.
  5. Explore history. There is so much to explore in the history of the world. There are so many stories, both true and fiction that can come out of any culture and time. Read personal histories, ask questions about why. And then turn it around a little and ask ‘what if’. When you start changing ideas and wondering how a story could have been different you open up a whole new world of possibilities.

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