Hi there! Happy Summer! And welcome to writing camp! Jo Knowles starts our weeks off with a Monday Morning Warm-up, so please visit her blog to get your creative ideas flowing – and then come back here for today’s lesson!
Teachers Write is a free virtual summer writing camp for teachers and librarians. To get daily posts delivered to your in-box, please click here and fill out your name & email on the form on the right side of the page.
A quick note about blogging your Teachers Write experience: Our guest authors have given permission for their lessons & prompts to be shared on the Teachers Write blog only. Please do not copy and paste any mini-lessons or writing prompts to your own social media feeds or blogs – publish only your own writing there. If you’d like to reference the ideas shared here, providing a link is the best way to do that. Thanks!
Our weekly schedule will look like this:Monday Mini-lesson, and a Monday Morning Warm-Up Tuesday Quick-Write Wednesday is Q and A day – authors will be here to answer your questions! Thursday Quick-Write Friday Mini-lesson and Friday Feedback Sunday Check-In – a chance to check in with everyone, reflect on the week, and share encouragement.
I’ll be popping in to comment, and I know many of our guest authors will, too, but since this community has grown so much (we’re more than 3000 teacher-writers strong now!) you’ll also need to commit to supporting one another. When someone decides to be brave and share a bit of writing in the comments, or when someone asks for advice or feedback, please know that you are welcome (and encouraged!) to be mentors to one another as well. Watching this writing community grow is one of the best things about being part of Teachers Write.
The first time you comment, I will have to “approve” your comment before it appears. This is to prevent us all from being besieged by online trolls. So when you comment, it will not show up right away – sometimes, it may be later in the day when your comment appears. THIS IS OKAY. Please don’t post more than once. I’ll be traveling for conferences & research some of the summer but promise to check in whenever I get wherever I’m going each night. Be patient with me, okay? 🙂
Now…let’s get started!
Another Point of View
When I was working on my June 2018 novel, BREAKOUT, about a small-town prison break and manhunt that change the way three kids see their neighbors and the place they call home, I wrote the first draft in first person point of view, from the point of view of Nora Tucker, the prison superintendent’s daughter. I revised. And revised. And somewhere around my third draft, thanks to feedback from writer friends, I reconsidered that POV decision.
How might different elements of this story look different to different characters? How would their backgrounds and life experiences change the way they saw things? And how might different documents – letters, poems, text messages, emails, news articles, signs, etc. – be useful in sharing those different perspectives?
This exploration ultimately led me to rewrite the entire book with a different structure, as a novel-in-documents.
I loved working on this project with this challenging puzzle of a format. (And I really hope you’ll want to read BREAKOUT and share it with your students- you can pick it up from your favorite bookstore!)
My next book won’t be a novel-in-documents because every story is different, and this one (a mystery set on a cricket farm!) will be better served with a different structure. But I’ll still take some time to write letters and poems in my characters’ voices, even though those pages probably won’t end up in the final draft. Writing from different points of view is a helpful way for writers of all ages to explore character, whether or not the final story will be told in multiple points of view. Often, when I’m writing a novel with an antagonist who doesn’t feel fully fleshed out, I take a break from the manuscript to journal in the “bad guy’s” point of view. It always helps me to understand more about my villain’s motivation and the backstory that shaped them.
So for today’s mini-lesson, let’s spend a little time playing around with point of view and structure.
- Go read this article about a pet owner who lost his cobra in a Florida neighborhood a few years ago. While you read, brainstorm a list of different characters who might be part of a story inspired by this news article and think about how their perspectives on what happened might differ.
- Next, brainstorm a list of all the different kinds of documents that might be part of this story if you were to write it using that format. Would there be text messages sent? From whom? What would they say? Who might write letters or diary entries or emails? What might a poem from one of the characters in this story look like? Could there be a rap battle? Petitions? Related news stories or editorials? Cartoons?
- Choose one of the documents you brainstormed and write it. Keep in mind which character(s) created that document and what their perspectives might be.
- If you’d like, share a little of what you wrote by copying & pasting into the comments. (If you link to a blog or other website, most people won’t see it.) And feel free to read some of the other posts to see how different writers handled other points of view!
- If you’re not ready to share quite yet, you can also just introduce yourself in the comments & say hello! I’m excited to meet everyone!
And here’s a little extra incentive to participate in the comments today. If you share a snippet of your writing and/or an introduction, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win all four of these amazing MG novels by TW guest authors, past and present. And they’re ALL signed! Deadline: 11pm EST on July 9th.