On Tuesdays & Thursdays during Teachers Write! Virtual Summer Writing Camp, we’ll be sharing quick-write prompts, designed to get you free-writing for a few minutes in response to a question or idea. Some of these will feel like writing memoir, some will focus more on fiction or nonfiction or poetry. Some of them will just be hard to categorize. Many will be prompts that you can bookmark and share with your student writers later on.
Our Tuesday-Thursday quick-writes can be used as a simple free-write, brainstorming, warm-up activity OR as a way to deepen your thinking about a work-in-progress. So feel free to approach the prompt in whatever way works best for you, even if that means ignoring it and writing about the other thing that sprouted in your head when you sat down to do the quick-write. Okay… got your keyboard or pencil ready?
Tuesday Quick-Write with Guest Author Jeannine Atkins
Jeannine Atkins writes books about history for children and teens, including Aani and the Tree Huggers (Lee and Low) and Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters (Holt). She teaches Children’s Literature at UMass-Amherst and a graduate course in writing for children at Simmons College. You can learn more on her website at http://www.Jeannineatkins.com.
In the Garden
If we were all together in a room, I’d give directions for this three-part exercise pausing for everyone to write one section before beginning the next. If you’re disciplined, and like surprises, please try responding to the first prompt, then going on to the next. Since reading is usually quicker than writing, personally I’d have a hard time not skimming all the prompts, but writing always surprises me more than thinking, so the exercises should still lead you someplace new.
1. Interesting characters have problems. Creating a character on the spot or taking one from a work-in-progress, state a major problem for your character.
2. Leaving that conflict behind, take your character and imagine her or him as being young enough to find her face near at least some flowers and blooms. For older characters this may be a memory of a garden where she feels free to roam around and peer close into blossoms. Write what she sees, smells, and touches? Are there particular plants, trees, or bugs that capture her attention? Describe them. She might stop to have a tea party with leaf plates and acorn cups. Does she talk to any birds or animals? Do they talk to her? Write down the dialogue! When she looks up, does she feel rain or sun? Describe the sensation. Does she find secret messages among rocks, violets, beetles, or the shade of an oak?
3. Please write what your character learned from her time in this garden. Can she use this to help solve the problem you described at the beginning of the exercise? Try writing a scene that brings the problem and the old garden together.
Note from Kate: Thanks, Jeannine! Campers, if you’d like to share a few lines of what you wrote today in the comments, we’d love that – and promise that all our comments will be friendly and supportive.
And today, we’ll be giving away a copy of Jeannine’s beautiful book BORROWED NAMES to one person who replies to someone else’s writing in the comments. 🙂