Improving My Craft, Part One

Along with many teachers, I spend my summers soaking up learning like I soak up the sun.  There are many things from my reading and writing experiences this summer that I will implement in my classroom this year.  Modeling how I approach fiction writing is one of them.  Instead of considering the plot first, my learners and I will explore developing main characters, their backstories, and their problems first.  From this viewpoint, my learners will have a focus for developing the plots of their stories.

This idea comes from Story Genius by Lisa Cron.  I am reading this book for the Focus on Fiction workshop I am taking through Teach Write.  In her book, she applies research from brain science to writing fiction.  I have not yet finished the book, as I am taking my time to work through the exercises and truly grasp what the author is saying.  So far, the story I am writing is more purposeful and my characters are more realistic than in other fiction pieces I have written.  Also, there seems to be more ease in moving the story forward.  I am a long way from having a complete first draft, but the bits and pieces I have created so far thrill me and motivate me to continue.

I am excited to see what my learners come up with as they approach their stories from this perspective.  This fall will be an exciting time in my classroom!

16 thoughts on “Improving My Craft, Part One

  1. Oooh, I love this idea of forming complex characters who drive the story. Thank you for the book recommendation.

  2. I love following your journey, both here and during the workshop! You continue to inspire me as a teacher and as a writer!

  3. Reading this, I think of what I’ve heard many novel writers say, basically that they create the characters and let them live and breathe and guide the way, and that their characters often surprise them. Your writing is clear and genuine – if you are feeling excited about your work and your growth as a writer, the kids absolutely will! Great things lie ahead for you all! Including your characters. And your readers:)

  4. That book sounds fascinating. Thank you for sharing your insights from it so far. I can’t wait to hear how your students respond to the new approach. I bet you’ll get some really interesting work! Also, I love your opening line, “I spend my summers soaking up learning like I soak up the sun.” Perfect.

  5. My own learning & reading has led me to the conclusion that plot and character offer two different doors into storytelling. Bravo for discovering worthy fruits behind door #2. Best to you, Tracy, as you keep writing.

    • Thank you! You are right. I want my learners to know they can approach their writing in many different ways.

  6. I haven’t read this book and I love the idea you shared re developing the character first. Would be interesting to share and saturate writers in a variety of approaches and offer choice as to their individual starting points for fiction writing.

    • I agree. Having multiple approaches from which to choose would boost their critical thinking skills, also!

  7. “I spend my summers soaking up learning like I soak up the sun.” What a wonderful and apt description of teachers in the summer. If only the general public understood how we needed the summer, not just to relax, but to learn and refill our buckets.

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