To give (me and) my oldest a break from Classical Writing Homer, we started this second semester with Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly.
My dd#2 loves to write stories but struggles to finish them. There are other parts to the writing process she hasn’t grasped yet, so I thought she would like to join dd#1 for some writing.
Writing Magic is set up with 30 chapters, each covering a different idea, topic, challenge, or bit of advice about writing. It is not meant to be a book that read all the way through in one sitting. Except for the first one, each chapter ends with “writing time.” (The first chapter starts with writing time.) Sometimes there will be one writing prompt. Other times, there will be two (or more!) prompts and occasionally there will be an extra assignment on top of the creative writing.
Mrs. Levine says that she volunteers as a teacher of a creative writing workshop in her hometown. This book is her way to share what she’s learned from teaching those classes about writing and how it “gets into trouble” [pg 7].
We usually do a chapter each day (four times per week), but when there is an extra assignment or multiple writing prompts, we’ll take two or more days. We only spend thirty (30) minutes on this daily, so our in-class writing is limited to about twenty (20) minutes. This isn’t always enough, so I encourage the kids to go back to their stories later to finish them up. This is hard to do, so if you plan on using this book, you might want to schedule its use when they have plenty of time to write afterwards.
We just finished Chapter 17 – Stuck!. The idea behind this chapter is so you know writing will never be perfect, not to expect to be great at it when you are just a beginner (corollary: it takes practice to get good), and give you ideas on how to get out of a situation where you don’t know what to do next. The writing prompt gives you a story set up where the main character has a perfect life. Your job is to write twelve (12) possible disasters that can set her off on an interesting story. Then, pick one (or more) and turn it into a story.
This turned into something of a family affair. My darling husband overheard me reading and got in on the game. Here are all of our ideas — the good, the bad, the silly, and the insane. (You may borrow any of them. Just send us a copy of your published book!) Oh! I should mention that there were details to this person’s perfect life & what was going on. You’ll be able to figure those details out when you read enough of the ideas.
1) Car accident on way to graduation.
2) She meets a cool boy at camp.
3) She pees herself on the stage and dies from embarrassment.
4) Her father has a heart attack and dies during pictures after graduation.
5) Her mother meets an old friend at graduation and is never seen from again.
6) Her parents have big news: they are pregnant.
7) During the graduation, the Chinese invade the USA.
8) At camp, she is thrown from her horse and breaks her neck.
9) Her boyfriend quits talking to her.
10) While at camp, her house burns down.
11) On the way to graduation, her father reveals that he lost his job months ago and they can’t afford camp.
12) Drawn in by a recruiting poster, she joins the Navy.
13) The Greek god Zeus steals her from the graduation stage.
1) She falls off her bike at camp and breaks her leg and back.
2) Her boyfriend dies.
3) Her boyfriend gets taken hostage.
4) Her parents divorce.
5) She forgets her suitcase.
6) She gets captured.
7) She becomes a thief.
8) Her friends get sick and later move away.
9) She gets sprayed by a skunk.
10) Her boyfriend likes another girl.
11) Camp gets cancelled.
12) At her graduation, she gets mortally embarrassed.
1) She gets blown up by a bomb.
2) The boyfriend says she has dumb hair.
3) When she gets home from camp, her parents have another child and don’t want her anymore.
4) Her clothes fall off at graduation and she’s so embarrassed, she dies.
5) A giant toad wants to marry her.
6) A giant brick falls on her head.
7) She goes crazy.
8) She is put in a pit full of lions and devoured.
9) She runs in a race and trips.
10) She acts like a pig and then a butcher with bad eyesight kills her and her mom & dad eat her as bacon.
11) She “passes gas” in front of her boyfriend and he is pushed two feet off the ground.
12) She grows a pig nose.
13) She goes on stage and forgets her line. She turns and runs.
14) All her adult teeth fall out.
1) She is caught picking her nose and fired from her camp job for being a bad influence. When she calls home, she finds out her family has rented out her room for the summer and doesn’t have room for her anymore. The story has spread and no one will employ her in her hometown. her boyfriend claims he knows no one by her name.
2) Camp has a fire the night she shows up and all evidence points to her having set it.
3) She is walking across the stage to graduate and breaks her leg. She can’t do camp that summer.
4) When she’s driving to camp, her car runs off the road and she has to hike to civilization. The camp figure she’s a no-show and goes on without her. she’s gone for months and no one misses her. Her boyfriend figures she’s moved on without him and gets a new girlfriend.
5) When she’s driving to camp, she picks up a hitchhiker who kidnaps her.
6) Her parents announce they are divorcing and there will be no “home” to come back to at the end of the summer. Mom is going to Europe. Dad is moving to India. She gets to camp and finds out it has been cancelled. No way to contact parents for three days and no home to go to.
7) Gets lost on the way to camp and ends up taking a spaceship to Mars.
8) Truck breaks down on the way to graduation. She doesn’t make it in time & school won’t give her a diploma. Camp won’t let her work there without it.
9) A tree falls onto car on way to graduation and kills parents. Seriously wounds character.
10) Tornado during graduation. Separates family & destroys camp.
11) Bags get mixed up and she has to do camp with old lady’s fat clothes.
12) World War III breaks out during graduation. Bombs drop. Chaos ensues.
There has to be at least one that has promise in that list, right?