Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Young Authors Lesson 2 - Character Development

Last week I introduced you to the idea of creating Young Authors books.  I mentioned to you that our local homeschool group hosts a Young Authors Writing contest each year.  Well, I've had some questions about the contest, so at the bottom of this post I am posting the 'Official Rules'.  Also, I wanted to include some pictures of a couple of the books our kids have completed.  As you can see from the pics below, this does not have to be very professionally done!  The idea is just to have fun with your kids, learning about the Writing Process and creating something that looks like a "real book" that they will be proud of.

Young Authors Lesson 2 - Character Development
     Today, you should begin your Young Authors lesson with introducing the stages of the Writing Process.  Young children, especially, will not need to have a very firm grasp on this information but it is a good idea to introduce them to it so they have an idea of what they will be doing during the next few lessons.
(You may want to write these steps on the board.  Explain that the Writing Process is a tool to help students write well-written stories.)
1. Pre-Write
(Explain that the students have already been pre-writing!  Pre-writing is just the process of thinking about your story, what it is going to be about, who the characters are, etc. before you actually write the story.  When the students completed their Story Stew worksheet, they were pre-writing!  Today, we will do one more pre-writing activity.)
2. Rough Draft
(Once your student has developed many ideas about their story it will be time for them to write the Rough Draft!  They don't have to worry too much about getting their story 'perfect', because this is just the Rough Draft.  They will be fixing mistakes during the next step of the Writing Process...)
3. Revising/Editing
(This is the time for the student to check the Rough Draft of their story for any spelling or grammatical mistakes.  Also, it is a good idea for students to have their parents, teachers, and/or peers read their story and get ideas to help them improve their story.  Perhaps a reader finds a part of their story confusing, and they need to re-write it to make it more clear.  Perhaps a reader suggests that more dialogue might make the story more interesting.)
4. Final Draft/Publishing
(Once the mistakes are fixed and their story has been improved, it is time to write the final draft and have the story 'published' our case that means illustrating the book and binding it together.)
     Today, we are still in the Pre-Write stage of creating our Young Authors books and we will do another exercise to help the students create concrete ideas about their story before they write it.  
     Tell your student that you will be talking about 'Character Development'.  Ask them to think of their favorite character from a book that they have read.  Ask them to describe the character and what they liked about that character.  You may give more examples of characters that you have enjoyed.  I have told my children about times when I really related to a character and enjoyed them so much that I felt like that character was my friend.  When I finished reading the book, I even felt a little sad because I wouldn't be able to hear about that character's story anymore. The reasons I have enjoyed those characters so much was because the author did a good job in developing them.  The author didn't just tell me a story, but he/she gave me many details about the characters that made them more interesting and made them even seem "real".
     Next, you will want to read a picture book to them.  Choose a book that does a good job with really developing their main character.  If you're not sure how to do this, a good idea would be to stick to a story that has the main character's name as the title.  (Some good ideas would be Corduroy, Curious George, and Horton Hears A Who.) 
     I chose A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban.
     Explain to your student that you will be asking them questions about the main character of the book once you are finished reading it to them, so they should pay attention as you read.  Once you have read to them, ask them to describe the main character's personality.  What were some interesting things about that character?  What was his/her likes and dislikes?  Describe the character's family.
     Point out some things that your student mentioned about their character that really didn't have anything to do with the storyline.  For example, in A Baby Sister for Frances, we find out that Frances likes raisins in her oatmeal and that she makes up funny rhymes and sings them.  This information is not critical to the story, but it makes Frances more interesting.
     Now, it's time for your student to develop their main character!  Have them fill out the 'My Main Character' worksheet below.  They may not use all of the information on the worksheet in their story, but it will be helpful for them to really spend some time thinking about their main character.
Young Authors WS - Character Development
      If your student is getting anxious to start writing their story, go ahead and let them begin their rough draft after completing the worksheet.  Officially, though we won't start the rough draft until our next lesson.  Look for that next week!
*  *  *
HFHG Young Authors Writing Contest
Deadline to turn in books: Friday, October 26
Young Authors Banquet: Friday, November 9

Our 4th Annual Writing Contest is open to all homeschool students in grades
1-12. Student books are divided into 5 different grade divisions. A winner and
two honorary mentions are awarded for each grade division. All participants are
given a Certificate of Participation and are invited (with their families) to
the Young Authors Banquet.

Rules for Writing Contest

The purpose of the Young Authors Writing Contest is for each student to write
their own work of fiction using the writing process and "publish" their own work
by illustrating and binding their final draft (get creative! - This is the fun

-Each work should be the sole work of one student (including illustrations).
Parents are allowed to help with typing the final draft, but please included
"Typed by: Parent's Name" on the front of the book.

-All writings should be an original work of fiction.

-Be sure to include the student's name and grade on the front cover. (Very
important for dividing into appropriate grade division!)

-Students should follow the Writing Process by first brainstorming their ideas,
creating a rough draft, revising their rough draft with the help of their peers
and/or teacher, and creating a final draft in book form. Only the final draft
will be submitted.

-All students must illustrate their stories (this is not required for grades
9-12). Illustrations can be drawn, painted, computer illustrated, or even made
using magazine cutouts (collage style). Creativity is encouraged and considered
during judging!

-All students must bind their final draft into book form. (This can be done as
simple as with a hole punch and ribbon or as technical as having it printed
into book form from a place like Walgreens or WalMart.)

-The length of the story is up to the discretion of the author. We have had
stories as short as a few sentences as well as novellas close to 100 pages

The Young Authors Banquet is a potluck banquet. All books will be on display
and awards will be given. It's a fun night to celebrate all of the students for
their hard work in creating their books! If you cannot attend, please plan for
someone else to pick up your student's certificate and book that evening.

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