My middle school grandson has trouble with one subject–writing! While he stayed with me last summer, I purchased two writing workbooks which we tried to work on often. Though pleased with his progress in comprehending writing techniques and sentence forms, no spark ignited a desire to write.
While with him a few weeks ago, he had an assignment to answer a sheet of questions creating the bare bones of a story yet to be written. The questions included:
Who are the characters?
Where is the location?
What activity are they involved in?
Is this a happy or sad story?
What happened in the story?
How did the characters react?
I asked if he had decided on characters. Yes, twins, Barbara and Susan. But he had no other flashes to answer the other questions. He was perplexed about their location and activities. My mind thought back to our fabulous trip a year ago to Orlando, so I suggested the twins might like to go to Disney World. That got him going and he managed to answer most of the questions on his page.
The next day, he returned home with exciting news. An author had visited their writing class that day. The teacher told the students to place their completed questionnaires on their desks for the author to see. The author went up and down each row perusing the story sheets. After reading Kevin’s page, he asked, “Is this a sad or happy story.” Kevin stated, “Sad.” The author wrote out the following story and read it to the class:
“For as long as they could remember, Barbara and Susan had begged their parents to go to Disneyland. The summer they turned seven, the family piled into the car for their annual visit to their grandparents. But there was a surprise in store. When Barbara saw the Disneyland sign, she screamed in excitement. But that startled her Dad, who swerved and ran off the road, crashing into the sign, which toppled onto their car. When Barbara woke up in the hospital, she learned that her parents and sister had been killed. She would have given anything to have them back.”
I pointed out to Kevin that the guest instructor proved himself to be an excellent writer by including the sentence — “But there was a surprise in store,” which piques the reader’s interest, pushing the story along to its climax. The concluding sentence sums up a host of emotions.
Kevin showed pleasure his story had been chosen. I wish I had been present in that classroom, wearing my invisibility cloak!