Monday, March 12, 2012

Oliver the Great Writer

"It was a dark and stormy night." Bob's voice read over my shoulder.
"Hey, stop reading over my shoulder!" I screeched as I quickly slammed Miss R.'s netbook shut.  "If I wanted you to know what I was writing, I would've shown it to you!"  I continued.
Ignoring my complaints, Bob began to critique my work.  "You do know that's the most cliché beginning ever, right?"
"Of course, I do.....duh." I retorted.
"Oliver, do you even know what cliché means?" Bob asked. His voice was kind, but I was miffed.  Miffed, that's a new word I learned from Bob's Word of the Day app on his smart phone.  It means annoyed. "To be cliché," Bob continued without waiting for a response, "is to be the opposite of original. In other words, it's not a good thing.  You don't want to be cliché in your writing."
"Oh," I responded.  I worried if I said anything else it would come out cliché. 
"Oliver, tell me about your story." 
"Well, Young Authors Day is coming up at Miss R.'s school and I was thinking if I wrote a story and it was good enough then maybe I could join the celebration."
"I see."  Bob said.  "Well, now I know why you're writing, but I still don't know what you're writing."
"Well," I hesitated.  "I don't really know what I'm writing either.  I thought I would just start with a stormy beginning and see where my story takes me."
Bob paused for a moment and I could see he was trying to think of how to break down his advice for me so that I would understand it.  After an awkward and uncomfortable pause, he cleared his throat and began."Oliver, I don't think it's a very good idea to ramble your way through a story.  The best writers compose their stories with an end in mind.  They know where their story is going and they make sure that each sentence moves them closer to that goal."
"Oh," I said again. I had run out of original responses.  It seems this writing thing is tougher than I originally thought.  
"I think I can help," Bob said and he disappeared into his apartment.  When he returned he was carrying a piece of paper in his mouth.  He hopped onto my deck and dropped the paper at my feet.  "This is a story map," he explained.  "See, there are blank spaces for you to brainstorm your ideas about who the main characters in your story will be, and what sort of problems they'll face, and how they will solve those problems, and what they'll learn as a result of it all.  See, there are more places for you to jot down ideas for the main events and such."  I must have looked confused because Bob tried again.  "It's like a skeleton.  This story map will give shape to your story.  Once you know what all the important parts are then you can begin fleshing out the details."
"A skeleton," I said.  "I like the sound of that. It's spooky and exciting.  I'll do it." I said.  
Bob grinned and said, "You'll do great, Ollie.  I'll leave you to create your magnum opus." I didn't ask him what a magnum opus was.  I didn't want to give him the satisfaction.  "It means your great work." Bob offered anyway. 
"I know that," I lied.  
All right, boys and girls.  I really do find story maps rather intimidating.  Are you using story maps for your Young Authors Day stories?  What are some things you've written in your story maps?  Do you find that using story maps have helped you write your stories?


  1. Dear Ollie,
    I think Bob has some good advice. My students ARE LEARNING to use story maps. Some of them confessed that the story maps are still a little intimidating for them, but they know it will sink in with time. You can do it, my little chubby buddy.
    Miss R. #29

  2. dear oliver,
    I am using story maps in class. I find them sort of intimidating too. but, I will figure it out some how. mabey you will too

  3. Dear Oliver,
    I like to use story maps. They make me pop out ideas. Are you gonna write a book for Young Authors Day? I think you will like story maps.

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  5. Dear Oliver,
    I like to use story maps. They make me pop out ideas. Are you gonna write a book for Young Authors Day? I think you will like story maps.