May 16th, 2007


Those First Graders Again

It's banking day and writing process day in E's class. After I did the bank deposit, I had to switch gears and try to pick up where I left off last week with a story gets written. Last week I brought in my cowboy boots, my cowboy hat, my Texas journal, and HCA's The Red Shoes. All the ingredients (3 connections) to make a story.

So this week I talked more about how my story goes from my real-life journal to a fictional storyline, how I wrote down what scenes I thought I wanted, how I cut out pieces from my journal and pasted them into the story, how I left large gaps for notes and changes. This happens to be a story I wrote mostly on the computer, although that isn't usually the case. I'm a long-hander by nature, by age group. Typewriters were strictly final draft machines because retyping was such a pain.

It also happens to be a story where I still have about 10 early drafts on paper with pen notations in the margins. The teacher wanted me to show that even grownups do a lot of editing. (Then I talked about how I recycle the paper for most of my editing drafts and that, really, I should edit on screen to save paper. The kids recently studied recycling, so I thought I would plug that while I was at it.) I passed the story copies around, pretty sure these guys couldn't pick out enough about the adult themes. Mostly they looked for words they knew, esp. with a silent 'e' on the end. Turns out my character's name was Kate, which, they pointed out, has a silent 'e.'

So I talked about how I might have the pieces, the basic influences for the story. How I jotted down notes on what I thought I wanted in the story, what scenes. How I had no idea what the ending would be, whether it would be as drastic an ending as The Red Shoes or something more gentle. They were surprised that I might not know how it would end. And then I read them a few descriptive sentences to show how I might go from saying she's in her hotel room to actually describing the room and what she was doing at that time.

They asked about length. I told them that while you look to cut excess words, a story is as long as it needs to be. But that when selling it, you might need to be at a certain length. And that as a 5k word story, this was one I could hold in my head all at once. Longer stories, I can't hold the entire story, just parts of it, and if I don't work on that longer story every day, I start to lose it and have to reread it all over again to get it back. (ugh)

Next week, journals. Lots and lots of journals to bring in and pass around. They've started to notice little details about me, such as my ever-present pens. I don't carry a notebook to E's class, but since I actually got about 3 ideas off a pair of boy's cowboy boots this morning I should.

Frog Out