Is it really just Week 3 of Ami’s Creative Writing Class? It seems like we are further along than that, because these lessons have been packed with writing principles and activities that are certainly building my daughters’ skills.
“This author uses a cliche right here!” one calls out from the couch.
“This author uses ‘said’ every time the character speaks!” another calls out, a little disappointed.
“Listen to this passage, Mommy, the author was showing, not telling!”
“Oooh, that’s a great word, I’ll have to remember ‘despondent’ as a good word for sad,” the nine year old comments as I’m reading aloud.
This week we focused on building a thesaurus of more interesting words instead of tired words like “said” and “ate”. We also talked about showing versus telling. These are lessons I was still learning far into my high school years. ”Aimee, show that your character is having an epiphany, don’t just tell us that she is, and ‘gentle’ is a very common word, look for a better word to replace it.”
Wonderful Versus Wimpy
Here are some of the “wonderful words” they found to replace “wimpy words”.
Ate-devoured, nibbled, wolfed, gorged, masticate.
Mad-enraged, vexed, boiling, infuriated.
Walk-skip, stalk, tramp, saunter
Sad-sorrowful, melancholy, heart-broken
Show Don’t Tell
After finding a few examples of how the author of our read-aloud, The Dreamer, showed that the father was angry and showed that the main character was a daydreamer, they worked on re-writing a few generic scenarios.
The Scenario 1: Her coat was dirty and small.
(The 11 year old) The sleeves of the coat went up almost to her elbows, it was caked with mud from the streets.
Scenario 2: He was hiding the money he took from his dad’s wallet.
(The 11 year old) He heard footsteps coming toward his room. Where should he hide the money? He placed the money inside his shoe and waited.
Scenario 3: He was excited that it was almost time for the birthday party.
(the 9 year old) Joey swung his legs under his chair. ”How many more minutes?” “Ten.” Ten WHOLE minutes until his friends would get here! He wondered what the presents were, a new car for his collection? A new bike? A piece of candy? Or a guitar? A guitar would be awesome, he thought.
Words, Words, Words
In The Dreamer, Neftali collects his treasured words on slips of paper and placed them in his dresser drawer. To further bring out the discovery of words taking place in our own home, I bought a small wooden set of unpainted drawers from Michaels and set the girls to painting it.
A tree emerged, along with a bird, a two quotes from this creative writing class.
The girls have plans to sneak their words in and then we’ll read them out loud at the end of each week.
And finally, we happen to pick up a book entitled, 13 Words, at the library this week. Written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman, this is a picture book about playing with unusual words. Fifth grade was the magic year that writing captivated my heart and one of the weekly assignments I loved was to take our list of vocabulary words and somehow make them fit together in a story. A puzzle, a mystery, a chance to play with words. This books reminds me of that assignment.
Three other books to enjoy:
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter, Pictures by Giselle Potter