III. Identifying Illogical or Incomplete Content, Inconsistent Voice (active or passive) and Verb Tense (present and past) and Incorrect Grammar

The author has primary responsibility to make sure that the content of his/her story is:   logical and realistic; complete (no details of events, actions or feelings accidentally left  incomplete); consistent in the voice and verb tense used; and grammatically correct. Otherwise, the reader will lose confidence or lose interest in the author and in his story,  and may not continue reading the story. An author should want to gain the confidence of  every reader, especially if the story is nonfiction and/or the author is trying to persuade the  reader to accept his opinion or point of view on a topic. In this chapter, redundant or  unnecessary text is shown with a strikethrough line through it; text that is being added is enclosed in brackets [ ]; and comments are shown in italic type

In this chapter, redundant or unnecessary text is shown with a strikethrough line through it;  text that is being added is enclosed in brackets [ ]; and comments are shown in italic type.

CCSSI: W.6.3, 7.3, 8.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

• Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

CCSSI: L.6.1, 7.1, 9.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSSI: L.8.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

• Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.

• Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.

Here are examples of illogical content (also called “faulty logic” or “not logical content”).

EXERCISES: Can you explain what is illogical about each story line? The answers are at the end of the exercise.

Exercise 3.1 : In the American West in the 1800’s, army soldiers set up camp as night fell. They were at war with the Indian tribes who lived there. The commanding officer always sent out lookouts to nearby hilltops to watch all night for Indians massing for an attack. This night, a lookout spotted hundreds of Indians moving toward the soldiers’ encampment. The lookout immediately sent a text message from his handheld phone to his commander, warning of an impending Indian attack. The commander was able to awaken his troops and get them into position so they were successful in repelling the Indian attack.

Exercise 3.2 :  In the summer of 2010, my family and I travelled to New York City to see the sights. We went to Rockefeller Center to see the skating rink, to the Museum of Modern Art, and boarded a Gray Line boat for a cruise around Manhattan. The view from the boat was spectacular: we saw the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center Towers and planes taking off and landing at Newark Liberty Airport.

II. Creative Techniques for Using Words, Phrases, Sentences and Paragraphs

1. Avoiding Redundancy Within a Story
This topic is designed to help authors recognize and eliminate words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs that are not necessary, because the reader can figure out the author’s message without them. It also applies to an idea that has already been clearly expressed to the reader by the author, when expressing it again is not necessary (that is, it is redundant). Example of redundancy: Many middle school authors overuse the words “then” or “next” when they are describing a series of events that occur sequentially (that is, one after the other). After describing the first event in a series of events, they think they have to begin every sentence that describes all the events that follow the first event with the words “then” or “next.” It is not necessary to use “then” or “next” if the author makes it obvious to the reader that these are a series of events happening sequentially, or when the author numbers the events in the order in which they occur (for example, the steps in a recipe). The reader understands that the events are in sequence and does not need to be reminded of this with the words “then” or “next.”

EXERCISES:

In the following examples, there are redundant words, phrases and sentences. Draw a line through any word, phrase or sentence you think is redundant. Also, if you think a word, phrase or sentence needs to be added to make the meaning clearer, then give it a number, write it in the space provided below or on a separate piece of paper, and place that same number in the text where you think it should be inserted.

Exercise 1.1“Maggi, come on good girl, wake up, come on, you have got to wake up!” Molly said. It was 8:00 in the morning and Molly was trying to wake up Maggi, her dog.

Exercise 1.2 “I have to call this lady and tell her that I found her dog and she can come and pick her up.” Molly said, as she turned and walked slowly toward the phone. RING RING RING! rang the phone in Maggi’s owner’s house. “Good Morning. Carrie Lendwood speaking,” said the lady on the other end of the phone.

 

2. Alliteration:
Using the same letter to begin two or more words (or even every word) in a phrase or sentence. Alliteration adds a rhythmic effect to the phrase or sentence.
Examples:
2.1 There were boys banging bats against broken boards.
2.2 From her bedroom came the sound of wonderful, wild, wacky laughter.
2.3 Tom threw tomatoes at the third graders teasing him.

Exercise 2.1 Create two sentences that each contain an example of alliteration.

 

 

I. Four Ways to Expand a Story Idea into a Story

Important Terms

1) Story Idea:
A story idea is a short description of what a story will be about. It is usually written before the story is written. It may describe the primary plot, it may list or describe one or more characters, it may describe the relationships between characters and it may describe a setting. It only covers a few important details that will appear in the story; it is not the story itself. It may also include a description of the purpose of the story, for example, to inform, instruct, persuade, or entertain.

2) Plots:
A plot describes the most important events and relationships in a story. An author can expand a story by increasing the number of events and/or the number of relationships in the plot, or by adding more details to events and/or relationships that are already in the plot. An author can also expand a story by adding additional primary plots (a primary plot is one whose events and relationships are most important to the author) and/or adding subplots (a subplot describes events and relationships that are not as important to the author as the primary plot is). Events may be actions that characters take, or actions that affect characters. Actions that affect characters may be actions taken by other characters or by natural forces (ex. tornado or fire). Relationships describe the way characters interact with other characters; the other characters may be other humans, supernatural beings, live plants or animals, or non-living characters. Interactions between or among characters can take place at different levels. What do we mean by different levels? If an author writes about one character talking to another, or about an event that all characters are experiencing together, without any mention of what each character is thinking, that is a single level. It means that each character is completely aware of everything that is said or done. If the author adds what a character is thinking but not saying out loud, that is a second level, because the other character does not know what the first character is thinking. The same reasoning applies if two characters talk about another character and the other character is not aware of what was said. If a story includes the description of a dream, the dream is on a second level; the events in the dream are not taking place in the real world in which the dreamer lives.

3) Characters:
An author can expand the length of a story by adding more information, such as physical descriptions, about existing characters, or by adding new characters with information about them. When an author adds a character, he or she is usually also adding an event that that character causes or participates in.
(Comment: Otherwise, why is the character in the story?)

4) Setting
Setting refers to the location where an event or a relationship takes place, or to the time period in which an event or relationship takes place.
4.1) Location: An author can expand a story by describing the characteristics of the location of the setting and/or by adding additional settings.
4.2) Time Period: An author can expand a story by adding or changing time periods.

5) Graphics:
Graphics refers to adding photographs, drawings, paintings, tables, charts or graphs to a story. Adding any of these will increase the length of a story. Comment: These same techniques can be applied to a story published as a hard cover book or in digital form as a CD, DVD, tablet, movie or video.

EXERCISES:

Below are three story ideas. Read each story idea and expand each using the aspects mentioned in this chapter.

Story Idea #1: A Boat And Its Journey

Setting: a tidal river in the state of Maine
This story idea is about a small rowboat that is owned by a family and is tied to their dock. After several days of rain, she fills with water and becomes so heavy that the wind and tide combine to snap her mooring line. She drifts down the tidal river, and as she drifts, she encounters various living and nonliving things typically found on a tidal river in Maine. Finally, she drifts into a cove on whose shore sits a house. A child of about 11 years old looks out the window of the house and sees the boat drifting toward their dock. Her family does not own a boat.

 

STUDENTS’ WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
1. Write sentences or phrases describing how you would expand this story idea to a multi page story that would appeal to elementary school students. Assume this will be a picture book with story text. Use each of the four ways to expand a story that were described above in this chapter.

2. Include in the story at least one living creature that would inhabit a tidal river in Maine, and explain how you were able to determine that this creature would live there.

3. Which character or characters tell the story and why did you choose them?

4. What title and subtitle (a subtitle is a short phrase that adds more detail to the actual title) would you give the story?

 

Story Idea #2: An Amazing Chicken

Setting: The area of the United States known as the Far West (includes states like Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico).
A family of two parents and four children live in the Far West, on a two acre ranchette (a ranchette is a small ranch – just a couple of acres). They own a pig, several horses and ponies, goats, dogs, cockatoo birds, a rabbit and several hens. The family notices
that one of the hens is very intelligent and friendly, and interacts with the other animals and with the family members. Because of these character traits, they give her a special name. They become very fond of her, and brag about her to all their friends

 

STUDENTS’ WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
1. Write sentences or phrases describing how you would expand this story idea to a multipage story that would appeal to fifth and sixth graders. You can assume this will have photographs with story text. Use each of the four ways to expand a story that were described in this chapter. You don’t have to actually write the expanded story (unless you want to); you just have to describe the ideas you have for expanding the story.

2. Who would you select to tell the story and why?

3. What title and subtitle (a subtitle is a short phrase that adds more detail to the actual title) would you give the story?

 

Story Idea #3: The Boy From Africa

Settings: A poor country in Africa and a school and community in the U.S. You are a children’s book author and you are looking for a new subject to write a book about. In the newspaper, you read an article about a teacher in an American school where many students are refugees from Liberia, an African country that has been involved in a civil war. This teacher is so moved by the sad stories that she hears from her students that she is determined to do something to help those left behind in the African country. Included in ways she is willing to help is the option of adopting an African child who is of elementary school age, since she does not have children of her own.

STUDENTS’ WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
1. Write sentences or phrases describing how you would expand this story idea to a multipage story that would appeal to middle school students. You can assume this will be a picture book with story text. Use each of the four ways to expand a story that were described in this chapter. You don’t have to actually write the expanded story (unless you want to); you just have to describe the ideas you have for expanding the story.

2. Explain how you would find out information about life in an African village in Liberia, to use in the story.

3. Who would you select to tell the story and why?

4. What title and subtitle (a subtitle is a short phrase that adds more detail to the actual title) would you give the story?

 

 

Introduction

The first objective of these workbook exercises is to give student authors practice in writing techniques that meet the standards for writing and language included in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).
The second objective of these workbook exercises is to provide tools in the form of techniques that middle school student authors in grades 6 through 8 can use to improve the content of their narrative, persuasive, expository and descriptive writing.

Narrative Persuasive Expository Descriptive
writing communicates an author’s experiences, either real or imaginary, over a period of time. writing presents an author’s opinion or point of view, for the purpose of trying to influence or persuade a reader to agree with the author’s opinion. writing provides information for the purpose of explaining a topic or giving directions. writing describes a character, setting and/or an event in such a manner that the reader can imagine that character, setting or event in their minds.

The third objective of this program is to create a platform for students to easily publish their writing online and get feedback from peers and educators. Writing is a skill that requires practice and mentoring. Children can become good writers through guided practice and constructive feedback. I encourage you to get a free account on QuillPad.org and start publishing your stories and essays!