This week I began teaching a creative writing class to a group of home educating children. What fun!
As I was preparing, I had to really think hard about where to begin. Should I teach the various aspects of writing, and then have them write a story? No, I decided. I would instead teach them about whole stories, then tackle each part later.
I was surprised how difficult it was to boil down story to its simplest form. Here is what I came up with. At its bare minimum, a story needs a likable character and by the end, a change. I may be wrong, but all the children’s picture books and literature would fall into this definition, from Goodnight Moon, to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I discussed this bare bones plot with the kids, and showed them a clip art picture of a slide. At the foot of the ladder was the character in his starting situation. Each step built tension, or simply moved the story along. Next, I told the children that the highest point of the story would be the most tense, or exciting, at the top of slide. And finally, the slide down was the satisfying ending. Something had changed, and the story was done.
They really seemed to grab onto this concept, and as I read aloud a couple of stories, they had no trouble deciding where each plot point should go.
Afterward, we used toys to come-up with characters, and invented a story plot. I was amazed with their creativity and energy. I have a feeling I will gain more than I give at these writing lessons!