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Fear as Inspiration {Discover. Play. Build.}

One of the basics I’ve stumbled across while writing fiction is to know what your characters’ fears are. Often tension is built around fear, making stories weave around and get to the heart of the matter. Considering our own fears, as well as ways we have overcome past fears, also make worthy writer’s notebooks topics. Often the things that show up in this kind of entry can lead to a personal narrative, memoir, or poem. This is the topic for today’s {Discover.Play. Build.} writer’s notebook challenge. Click over to Ruth Ayres Writes for more if you are taking the challenge this summer.

I’d been mulling over the idea of fear for inspiration when I received some books from Candlewick last week. I opened the box and knew it was serendipity because all three of the books could be used in writing workshop around the idea of fear. At least that was my initial thought when I looked at the covers. After reading them and thinking a little more deeply, I came up with some other ways I’d use them in writing workshop. Check them out. (If you click on the covers, you’ll be linked to the book on

CREEPY MONSTERS SLEEPY MONSTERS. Copyright © 2011 by Jane Yolen and Kelly Murphy. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. 2011. (Released July 12, 2011)

I love Jane Yolen. Love. Her. So I know if I see her name on the cover, there’s a good chance the book is going to be rich with teaching points. This sweet text with sweet images didn’t disappoint. Although not scary, the cover definitely invites us to consider creepy things. I love that the subtitle is A Lullaby. I think this offers a perfect invitation to consider genre and why this is defined as a lullaby.

WHAT'S IN THE WITCH'S KITCHEN? Copyright © 2011 by Nick Sharratt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. (Released July 12, 2011)

This is a super fun text with a repeating line, rhyme, and a surprise each time you flip the flap to find out what’s in the witch’s fridge, bowl, teapot, and other parts of the kitchen. You don’t know if it’s going to be silly, gross, gruesome, or delicious until you flip the flap (and then you can flip it the other way to get something opposite). A fun book and a great way to enter into a writer’s notebook entry about what’s in your characters’ kitchens (fiction) or what’s in your own kitchen and how does that define your life.

SOME THINGS ARE SCARY. Copyright © 1969, 2000 by Florence Parry Heide and Jules Feiffer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Now this book definitely lends itself into springing into a writer’s notebook entry based on fears. It is a list book of all kinds of things we may find scary. From silly to irrational to common, this book touches on fears almost anyone can relate to. A great text to read and then move into a notebook entry on fears.

{Discover. Play. Build.}

Feel free to use any of these ideas to jump start your pen for writing ideas this week. Also, I’d be honored if you would join me on Ruth Ayres Writes for more ideas, as well as to share some of your entries and observations as you put words on the page this summer.

Ruth Ayres View All

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

3 thoughts on “Fear as Inspiration {Discover. Play. Build.} Leave a comment

  1. These are terrific ideas for mini-lessons Ruth. And thank you for telling us about the new books. I love Jane Yolen too! The topic of fears always gets students going in their writing.


  2. That last title looks especially awesome – I like this idea of linking the texts to the Writer’s Notebook. This is an area in which I want to do the most work this summer – your book suggestions have me thinking, Ruth!


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