Various Types of Writing for Young Writers

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Various Types of Writing for Young Writers

Teacher to Teacher

By Mary Emma Allen

So often we or our students think of writing as composing poetry and  fiction stories. Usually we don’t consider non-fiction pieces,  interviews, reports, essays, letters, and other similar forms. When  youngsters say, “I can’t think of a story,” suggest other types of  writing which might dispel their “writer’s block.”

Journal Writing

Many teachers use journals to start children writing. Sometimes this is  a routine morning activity to quiet the students as they come into class  and to get them into the mood for learning. The younger students usually  draw pictures to accompany their daily journaling.  Sometimes the journaling is free write. Other times the teacher will  assign them a topic. Some students have no problem thinking of something  to write about whereas others draw a blank and need a prod from the  teacher.

Writing About their Pet

When children draw a blank about writing, they usually can write about  their pet(s) if they have any. They may write a description, how they  acquired it, how they care for it and play with it. (If the pet died,  you’re almost assured to get a very sad story about this.)  This topic of pets also can be turned into fiction as you encourage  youngsters to write about an adventure they could have with their pet.  Or it may be an adventure their pet encounters.  When using this lesson, I often read to them my story, “The Live  Christmas Tree Ornament,” that was published in magazines and an Animal  Tales anthology. This fiction story is based upon an incident from my  childhood. I discuss with the students how they can write a story about  an adventure with their pet.

Report of a Sports Event

This usually is an enjoyable activity for youngsters who participate or  watch sports. They can write a report about a a game they played in or  watched. Study with them newspaper stories on the sports page which  report games or give interviews of players. Then encourage them to write  their own stories.

From this they can delve into fiction, either by using the report as a  springboard for their story or coming up with something completely new.  I often use my story, “Tim’s Big Race” which appeared in Jack and Jill,  as an idea stimulator. After reading the skiing story to them, I discuss  how I came up with the idea for the story and the way I wrote it.

Report on a Family Trip

This topic may seem a variation of the old “What I Did On My Summer  Vacation.” However, study travel articles in newspapers and magazines  and see if your students can write a travel story of their own.  Since I’ve done a great deal of travel writing, I keep a file of my  stories to use with the students. If you don’t write travel articles,  clip some you enjoy from newspapers and magazines to use as models for  the youngsters. The young writers can accompany these stories with  photos or sketches.

Book Report

Book reports often seem boring to many students. However, there are  others, like my granddaughter, who enjoy writing them. Last summer, she  was reading books voraciously so her parents suggested she write a report  for each one.

My son-in-law found a format for a book report which, at first the third  graded simply filled in. Then they suggested she elaborate and write a  more descriptive report of the book. She enjoyed this and now doesn’t  mind book reports at school.

Family History

Youngsters can find fascinating people among their ancestors to write  about. They may not even have to go so far back. They can talk with  their grandparents and gather stories from them. The young writers might  be encouraged to compile a book of family stories, complete with  accompanying photos and sketches.

When they research their ancestors, they may find interesting people. I  tell them about my great great uncle Buffalo Bill Mathewson, who was a  fur trader on the Santa Fe Trail. By exploring my family history, I  found this fascinating person and others to research and write about.

Recipes

Write about recipes? Yes, writing about cooking and food history may  interest some children. After all, I’ve been writing cooking columns for  30 years and still find much of interest.  Have your young writers study cooking columns in newspapers and  magazines. Look at cookbooks that contain background information about  the recipes. Compiling a book of family recipes is another form of  family history.

Letters

Letters constitute a type of writing which is becoming a lost art today. I treasure letters written by my great grandmother and other ancestors.  My mother was an avid letter writer and I’ve saved many of her letters  over the years. When I moved away from my hometown, she regaled me with  family happenings.

I read some of the humorous events to youngsters to let them know they  can write letters about funny happenings in their lives. Sometimes they  write more freely if they feel they’re telling others something through a  letter rather than an essay or report.

These also can be letters to the editor in which students write to  express opinions. Help them study these letters in various  newspapers.

Writing a Class or Neighborhood Newspaper

This can be a fun project and encompass many of the above activities as  youngsters produce the various sections of a newspaper. Frequently your  local newspaper will give students tours with reporters and editors  explaining and showing the students their jobs.

Some newspapers will even have a student department where youngsters can  furnish articles. When I worked on a weekly newspaper, we had students  write a column of school events and opinions. (Actually the students  came to us and asked if they could do this.)

Since I was a teacher as well as reporter, my editor gave me the  assignment of working with the students and editing their work. Our  statewide newspaper publishes students’ work each Monday.  These are just a few of the different types of writing students can  undertake, along with fiction writing and poetry. So when they have  “writer’s block” have some of these activities in mind for them to  try.

__________________
For more information about Mary Emma and her writing visit her web site: http://maryemmallen.blogspot.com

Keeping an Idea Book

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Keeping an Idea Book

Encouraging Young Writers

By Mary Emma Allen

Youngsters often are intimidated by the idea of writing, whether it’s a story, poem, book report, non-fiction article. However, there are a number of ways to take away some of the dread of writing:

Let them know they don’t have to be perfect on the first draft. Let them know that professional writers write and rewrite and find the most important step is to get their thoughts down before losing them. Also, get children into the habit of keeping an idea book where they jot down thoughts for and about writing. Their writing in this doesn’t have to be perfect, just a few words so they don’t “lose” their ideas. This may be a title or a few words describing an idea for a story, poem, article. It might be the beginning or the end of a story. Their idea book doesn’t have to be as extensive as a journal and will take on different formats depending on their age.

Idea Book Formats

A NOTEBOOK – This can be somewhat like the journal they write in each day (many teachers have youngsters write in a journal every morning or sometime throughout the day), but they do not need to write so much in the idea book. This notebook might take the form of a steno pad or a notebook with an attractive cover so it’s easily recognizable.

SMALL SPIRAL NOTEBOOK– Many writers carry a small spiral notebook with them to jot down ideas whenever something comes to mind or they see or hear something. This is handy because it’s small enough to fit into a pocket, a purse, a backpack.

NOTE CARDS or 3×5 cards – If a writer uses these, there’s a chance they’ll get lost unless you set up a filing system. However, you only need to carry around a few cards and not a whole pack or notebook. Then if they get lost, you’ll only be out those few ideas, not everything–as with a notebook. Some writers like to use a note card for each thought or idea and then file them according to category.

COLORED CARDS – You also could use different colored cards for various topics. Using a different card for each idea makes it easier to locate an idea when you’re ready to write. Or you can shuffle the cards around and see about combining several ideas to make a story.

MAKING YOUR OWN IDEA BOOKLET– You may decide to have young writers make an idea booklet which they can use in school to jot down their ideas. They can illustrate it with a decorative cover. Then each day, they can transfer ideas from their cards or spiral notebook which they carry around with them. The larger idea booklet would remain at school for writing class.

TAPE RECORDER – Some writers like to keep a tape recorder handy so they can record their ideas when they don’t have a notebook available. This probably would be used more by older children/young adults. But it’s a method writers may use in conjunction with a notebook or note cards.

Getting the Idea Process Started

For best results, you…the teacher, homeschooling parent, parent…need to keep your own idea book, card file, recorder. Your working at this project along with the young writers usually encourages them.

Give young writers the idea that this process can be fun…coming up with ideas and then turning them into stories. By jotting down a few words, a sentence, then a paragraph, writing can be less intimidating for the writers-in-training.

Go through the process of idea taking with the youngsters, perhaps with a brain-storming session in class. Working in pairs could be the next step toward getting ideas for their notebook and sharpening their powers of observation. From a few words, they can progress to complete sentences, then paragraphs.

Before they know it, they’re on the way to writing a story or article.
___________________
For more information about Mary Emma and her writing visit her web site: http://maryemmallen.blogspot.com

Keep a Clipping File

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Keep a Clipping File

Encouraging Young Writers

By Mary Emma Allen

I keep a clipping file for my own writing and suggest that teachers do this to use in the classroom. Also encourage older student writers to keep their own files. When I teach writing in schools, I often pull out my clipping folder for youngsters to use.

You should change characters’ names, setting, and details that might identify the person in the news story. But use the clipping for ideas, as a springboard for a story.

Ask yourself “What if?” something else happened, the character was a girl instead of boy (and vice versa), the ending was different, there was a different setting. Also when a clipping doesn’t give many details about the incident, create your own story about why something happened and the ending.

Examples From My Clipping File

The following are clippings I’ve used with youngsters to stimulate their writing. You may want to use these same examples to start your file.

BLACKIE COMES HOME – Blackie, a family dog, disappeared. He was tied outside when everyone left for work and school. When they returned home, Blackie was gone. His collar and chain were there, but Blackie was nowhere to be seen. Two years later, he suddenly appeared, when everyone thought he was dead.

  • Where had Blackie been?
  • Tell from the dog’s viewpoint.
  • Tell from the children’s viewpoint.

THE MOOSE IS LOOSE – A moose wandered down the main street of town during the night causing damage. In the morning they found him lying down inside a shoe shop where he had barged through a plate glass window and created a mess.

  • Why had the moose come to town?
  • How did they get him from the store?
  • What happened to him then?

SAVING A BROTHER – Tommy and his little brother were playing in the back yard. Joey wandered down to the lake and walked on the ice. He fell through. Tommy rescued him and was given the Governor’s Award for heroism.

  • How did Tommy rescue Joey?
  • Were there other children around?
  • Were any pets around?
  • Tell story from Tommy’s viewpoint?
  • Tell story from Joey’s viewpoint?

DAVID FINDS HIS WAY – David, his family, and some friends were hiking on Rattlesnake Mountain. Six-year old David and his dog wandered off the trail and weren’t with the group when everyone reached the top of the mountain. A search was initiated for David. The local fire department and rescue unit were called out. They searched all night and didn’t find the young boy.

David’s family often discussed survival techniques. David recalled some of these, so he walked downhill, found a brook, and made his way until he came to a road.

  • What made David wander off?
  • Did his dog chase a chipmunk and David followed him?
  • Did David go chasing an animal himself?
  • Tell from a first person point of view.
  • Tell from third person.

Sometimes youngsters mention that they were lost. Can they tell their story? One boy said his mother got lost when she was a little girl. Could he tell her story? Of course.

Look for more examples, either clippings from newspapers and magazines. Or jot down stories you hear on television or radio. These real, often unusual, adventures may stimulate your young writers to write fiction stories, poetry, non-fiction newspaper stories, and plays.

__________________
For more information about Mary Emma and her writing visit her web site: http://maryemmallen.blogspot.com

Ideas Escape Me

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Ideas Escape Me

by Linda S. Dupie

Have you ever said, “I have nothing to write about.” It’s just not true. You have plenty look around. Everywhere you go; everywhere you look there are hundreds of ideas. You have to open your eyes and mind and let them in.

Before you say the ideas been done, let me say this, it probably has a hundred times over but what makes it original is your slant on the topic. If writers were to avoid ideas because someone else has covered it, the written world including movies would cease to exist because there wouldn’t be a need for writers.

No matter what your age, open your eyes and mind, absorb your surroundings, and then write.

WHERE TO FIND WRITING IDEAS

Playgrounds are great to jog your memory of events that would make excellent essays, plots for short stories and articles.

Libraries-There is literally thousands of ideas at your fingertips here. You could write book reviews. Write a rebuttal to an article you don’t agree with.

School/College-Why not write a survival guide article. How to survive the eight grade, how you completed your first year of college without gaining the ‘Freshman 15’. A how to article is perfect for magazines that target your peers.

Pets-How to articles. For example, you convinced your parents to let you have a pet; you have what you need to write a how to for other kids based on your experiences. Be serious or funny whatever works for you.

Your community-Has a peer or adult accomplished something extraordinary or ordinary that benefited others? Interview them for a profile piece.

Trends/Fads- As a kid or teen you’re in a unique position of spotting a trend before it really happens. Look around at your peers, what are they wearing? How are they talking? Did a friend just return from Europe? Did they bring back anything that might become trendy here? Write about it!

Television-Write about the reality shows from your point of view. What do you really think of them? Your perspective will vary greatly from that of an adult.

Grocery stores-This is a great place to observe people and gather traits for characters in your short stories. You could write a humorous essay comparing your shopping list with that of your parents.

Hobbies-Do you have a unique hobby? Write about it and share your expertise with others.

Politics-You’re never too young! Is something happening locally, state or nationally that affects you and your peers? Dig around, make some calls and try to talk with the individual or individuals involved to help you understand and then write about it to help others understand.

Ideas are everywhere, just look around, and you’ll never say I have nothing to write about again.
_____________________

Visit the website at: http://www.lindasdupie.com

Beyond the Basics

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Beyond the Basics

Ideas, Observation, and Research

by Linda S. Dupie

The tools of a writer go beyond pen and paper or your word processor. Writers also use non-tangible tools like observation and ideas. You need to be aware of your surroundings, recognize and capitalize on ideas, and have the ability to conduct research.

Research

A dreaded word for most people, but to a writer it means uncovering new facts or rediscovering the past. If you’re not great at researching information for an article, practice. Visit your library, and get to know the librarians, make them your best friends. Ask for tips on making research less painful. Do research on how to research. There are many books on the subject of research; they’re even divided into categories according to the genre, or topic. Research is a necessity for the well-rounded article or story, and is an excellent tool for sparking ideas.

Observation

People tend to observe their surroundings naturally, but as writers we need to take it a step further. Writers need to notice and remember taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. And writers need to use words effectively to transport the reader to a specific time or place. Carrying a pocket-size notebook is helpful. Write down essential details that help you remember the smell of the air, or how the mist hung over the dilapidated house and left you with an eerie feeling. Be aware of what’s around you, even in a place you’ve been a hundred times. You never know what might spark your writing. When you take your daily walk, who’s out when you are? Take time to notice them. Do they have a skip in their walk or swing their arms wildly? What facial expressions do you notice? These are characteristics you can apply in your fiction writing. But these observations can apply to article writing too. Take the walker who swings his arms wildly-is this good form for a walker? Maybe you can write an article on correct walking form. Noticing facial expressions might lead to an article on how exercising relieves stress.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas

Look around; at any given time there are thousands of ideas right in front of you. Someone, somewhere has probably covered most topics or ideas. But this shouldn’t deter you, because your slant on the idea is what makes your article or story stand apart from others. Your weekly trip to the grocery store can lead to traits for characters in your book, if you watch the people around you. Noticing there are three new register attendants could lead to an article about the turnover rate of employees in chain supermarkets. Look in your own back yard. Have you noticed an increase or decrease in the number of bugs? Find out why. Make a list of topics you consider yourself an expert on-your children, for instance. Have they recently had a rash you never knew existed? If you were unaware, other parents might be as well. Look at your pets. Have you noticed an increase in fleas or ticks? An article on the cause of this could be a timely piece for your local paper.

Open your eyes and mind to the on going cycle of ideas. Observation generates ideas; those ideas lead to research; the research brings us back to observation and more ideas.

Here’s a list of possible Topics/Ideas from the world around you

  • Pets
  • Hobbies
  • Children’s health
  • Children’s Play
  • Children and friends (can include different ages and stages)
  • Home remodelling/redecorating
  • Home-zoning permits
  • Gardening-Can include lawn care or other seasonal information
  • Local community-YMCA, local volunteer groups/fundraising
  • New local road development- the pros and cons
  • Trends/fads
  • Antiques/collecting-What’s hot, what’s not
  • Art Galleries-Is there a new artist spotlighted, what are the current trends in buying art?
  • Exercise
  • Help wanted ads-Search them for current trends in employment locally. Go online and search them nationally.
  • Fertility-Advances in treatment, side affects
  • School construction/remodelling
  • Your retired parents-Their quality of life compared to your expected quality of life when you retire.
  • National Debt-how it affects you locally.
  • Interest Rates-How do they affect your quality of life before and after retirement.
  • TV-The pros and cons, better or worse than 10 or 20 years ago, reality shows, what’s their purpose.

Visit Linda S. Dupie’s website: http://www.lindasdupie.com/

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