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ruth’s wn entry: fantasy story character & magic & setting.

Here are a couple of pages from my writer’s notebook.  I put them on transparencies and used them to teach a focus lesson about doing some “deep thinking” about a story before actually drafting.  I encouraged students to begin with their character and to then explore other elements of their story.  (I also explained that it’s not necessary to begin with character, but it was a strategy I wanted them to try.)  Too bad I didn’t make copies of their wn entries to share — they were amazing!

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

3 thoughts on “ruth’s wn entry: fantasy story character & magic & setting. Leave a comment

  1. No I don’t have it written out. I don’t usually transcribe my lessons. I save the materials/text/resources that I use & jot a stickie note to go with it, then I file it . . . & that’s about it. Here’s what I did for this focus lesson —

    I shared my entries with them & talked a bit about my process. It was tough for me to get anything down to start a fantasy story. Really tough. And then I went back to what I know of writing fiction. I know that starting with character helps get my imagination going. I also know that in the past it helps kids get going too.

    So I started with that. I showed students how I developed my character using a list. How there’s a little good in him & a little not-so-good. I also talked about how I was inspired by my 7 year old nephew who was lamenting about “being on the wall” during recess last week. Yet I still made up the character from my imagination — and they should too. No stealing a character that is already created (like from a video game), nor can you use your best friend as is. You can be inspired by people, but you must create your own character!

    Then I showed them how that thinking led to the magical element. This entry I did differently than the list so they could see another way to gather ideas in their wns.

    Finally the magic led to the setting & again I showed them the beginnings of my thinking about setting. One of the students said she created a map of her fantasy world.

    I thought that was a brilliant idea, so I used it during some silent writing time. During sharing, I showed my map — so they could experience the way a community of writers supports one another.

    I was a bit worried that my focus lesson was a bit “out there” — that they wouldn’t know how to go about doing some deep thinking about their stories. I worried for nothing. EVERYONE was able to get started & worked during the entire 35 minute writing time.

    Some were making lists about their characters, others were sketching their characters, and others were jotting down information about their characters in prose form.

    One boy developed a character who is a superhero. He created a “Secret File” in his writer’s notebook (complete with a top secret envelope) of the information about the superhero’s “disguise” in life.

    I was impressed with the way their imaginations were running wild, yet their writing work was grounded and solid and fruitful. It’s such a delicate balance and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw we were there (so often I miss the mark!)

    The teacher I’m working with & I brainstormed the essential qualities of fantasy. We came up with character who has a problem that is “of another world” (ie couldn’t happen here on Earth); a magical element/object; and a quest that must be conquered for order to be restored.

    BTW — I’m not sure if these are right or wrong (I don’t read much fantasy), but it’s what we noticed from the VanAllsburg texts her students had been immersed in.

    PS — I guess I have it written out now! The lesson was less than 10 minutes. 🙂


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