Slow Down: How to help your students become authentic writers {with freebie} | Mentoring in the Middle

Slow Down: How to help your students become authentic writers {with freebie}

I recently talked about how mentor sentences do something *magical* for my students and their writing.  You can read about that here.

Students spend time creating a great "hook" to keep readers reading but then they have a tendency to jump from the beginning to the climax of the story.

In one paragraph.

Maybe two, if you make them add some details.

That's pretty typical for young writers!  So, how do we slow them down in a way that doesn't ruin their story?

By breaking it into smaller steps.  

Look at what authers do

Start with the Exposition, the introduction of characters, setting, and time period.  Show them that in:
    • Where the Red Fern Grows, it takes 9 pages
    • Front Desk? 11 pages
    • The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had? 6 pages
    • Walk Two Moons? 9 pages
You can pick any books your students like reading and find the same thing.

Focus first on the setting

Have students stop for a moment and imagine where their main character is.  You can even have them close their eyes.
  • What do they see?
  • What sounds do they hear?
  • Who else is there?
  • What does it look like?
  • If they're writing science fiction or historical fiction, make sure the clothing, the tools, the food, and the language all fit the time period
  • What do they smell?  Even fresh air can be described.
  • What might they touch?
If they can begin to answer those questions, they'll start writing in more depth and you'll see the pace of their story slow down a little.

Would this graphic organizer help you?  Click here for the Google Slides.

Would you prefer to start with an already scaffolded writing story with guiding questions throughout?  Click here for an adventure (that can be perfect for Halloween!) 

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