Tag Archives: fan fiction

Book Planning, days 1 and 2

I am helping my 10-year-old write an ebook, and this post describes our progress so far. I talk more about day one and how we got started, etc. on my post New Writing Idea for Visual Thinkers. That post didn’t get very much traffic, which is a shame, because I really think it’s one of the most helpful homeschool/writing posts I’ve added in a while. It could actually help non-writers get off the ground. I know it was a great boost for Ian’s creativity, so it’s a proven method, lol.

Day One

  • Play MineCraft for ideas
  • Brainstorm setting and settle on one (or two, in this case)
  • Come up with an overall plot (what the story is about)
  • Think of a few unique/surprising story aspects
  • Come up with a few of the character’s preconceived ideas
  • Decide main conflict and five smaller conflicts
  • Write a few key sentences and dialogue that we liked the sound of

Day two

  • Think of resolutions for all of the conflicts
  • Have a few surprises/twists in the resolutions
  • Tie some of the story components together in interesting ways
  • Come up with three supporting characters and name everyone
  • Think of some weaknesses for the characters and ways they will develop throughout the course of the book
  • Draw a picture of his main building, labeling some of the floors
  • Write a paragraph depicting what will happen in chapters 1 and 2
  • Think of a good tagline (it was an accident, but we’re keeping it)
  • Build a 3D model of the main building out of a box, duct tape, etc (this was done throughout the entire process to give him something to do with his hands while thinking)

BoxWe didn’t have a plan of how much to accomplish each day when we started. We actually don’t have a plan at all. We just start working on it when we have a lot of time, decide what we need to do next, and keep going until we get bored and want to quit. (Actually, even after we quit on day 2, Ian spent almost 4 more hours working on his 3D models.)

I am giving him a lot of ideas, but the main ones have come from him. Also, I completely throw out anything he doesn’t like; I haven’t made any “executive decisions” to keep good material or throw out something I think may be problematic. And everything is working out just fine, so far! The problematic things that we have kept have all worked themselves out. Mostly by me asking questions about how it will work within the story, and Ian coming up with good answers. Also, on the second day, Ian wanted to nix the main conflict of the book. “What?” I asked. “That’s what the second book is gonna be about,” he said. And now that we are looking at chapters and chapters of ideas for the first book, I believe he made a very wise decision.

 

A New Writing Idea for Visual Thinkers

(Or a Prompt Disguised as Playing Games)

Ok, so this post is mainly for children who play MineCraft, but it would also work with Legos, clay models, or other types of artwork.

Ian and I are on a mission to write an eBook together so he can publish it on Amazon and earn a small amount of money. I told him I was sure he would sell at least ten copies of the book. (If not, I’ll make it happen. Moms are magical like that, lol.) If we charge $1.99 and he earns 70%, then he will make at least $14.

Fourteen dollars is a lot of money in his world, and even though he doesn’t like the whole physical aspect of writing, he still enjoys brainstorming, coming up with a plot, and even composing sentences – as long as I’m the one doing the actual writing. Although, when we get down to it, we will take turns writing the sentences down. So expect a novella where every other sentence is much shorter than the rest, lol.

We spent Sunday afternoon coming up with a setting, a main character, the major conflict, and a few minor conflicts. We did a little bit of world building and story set-up as well. As soon as we think of a good resolution, we’ll be ready to start writing. (We did write a couple of story sentences along the way, when we happened to think of a good way to get our point across.)

Ian Video GameHere’s where the fun begins. Right after we started brainstorming, Ian ran into the living room and switched on the television and Xbox. What? I thought we were going to write a story? It turns out, he had every intention to help me, but while doing so, he wanted to be crafting his story in 3D. Not just his story world, but he used some of the events of the game to help him brainstorm events in his story as well. For instance, he suffered from an explosion (via creeper), and decided that the villagers would nurse him back to health.

Now, I know there are TONS of children (and adults) who play MineCraft, so this could be a fun project for them. And if not, perhaps you or your child like to draw, paint, or make 3D models from construction paper, tin foil, what have you. The idea is to do whatever it takes to open up creative pathways in your thinking patterns while you brainstorm story components.

One little caveat with Ian’s idea: He will have to change the names of his monsters and main characters and other little details to mask the fact that he is really writing fan fiction. I’m sorry, but I don’t think he can get by with publishing a book that contains creepers, Steve the adventurer, and mining for redstone. Oh, and let’s not forget villagers that barter with emeralds…

While Kindle Worlds does have a few licenses with a few companies to enable people to publish fan fiction and get paid for it, MineCraft is not yet one of those options. We are following them on Twitter though, so if it ever does happen, we’ll know, lol.

Free ways to teach writing and spelling

Ok, so this year we finally took the plunge and purchased curriculum from Institute for Excellence in Writing. I did it because having a curriculum is easy, and I truly believe that their ideas will help Ian learn more about writing in the long run.

However, up until this year (5th grade), I had not invested any money at all into a writing curriculum. Here is what we had been doing:

Reading

When I spell today, I am not thinking back to some memorized list from the third grade. I can spell because I read a lot. If I misspell a word, I usually know right away because something looks off about it. Reading well-written compositions also help when it comes to writing. Students learn what good writing looks like.

Copy and Dictation

I would generally have Ian “write” a paragraph from scratch about his day, or about his video game, or whatever he had just been doing. Basically anything simple that he wouldn’t have to think too much to come up with. He would dictate it to me, four or five sentences, and I would write it down. Fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Afterward, I would have him copy what I wrote onto a separate sheet of paper. Then, the next day usually, I would dictate that same paragraph to him, and he would write it down on another fresh sheet. I would always help him with spelling, and cover any spelling rules on the spot if anything came up. I would also show him other words that use the same rules for reinforcement. This exercise is also great for suggesting alternate ways of writing a sentence or correcting grammar mistakes. As your child becomes a better writer, suggest more and more changes, but don’t overdo it because you won’t want to discourage him. Basically, using this method, you could probably get through your entire K-12 without ever purchasing writing (or spelling) curriculum, as long as the teacher is a competent and confident writer. That being said, you would still want to eventually move on to things like essays, business letters, and resumes. I haven’t looked into myself, but you can probably find examples of all of these things online, along with tips for writing them. For help with streamlining a research paper, look here.

Writing stories together (see Creative Writing and Flying)

A new twist on writing stories together is fan fiction. I recently downloaded a MineCraft novel on my Kindle and began reading it to Ian. Now he is hoping to write one of his own and publish it as an eBook. He has never wanted to write anything before, so this is cropped-img_4390-copy.jpgvery encouraging to me. You can find lots of fan fiction online, but most of it is poorly written. Also, you have to watch out for inappropriate content, so be careful before just turning your children loose on these sites.

Spelling City (for students using word lists)

For help with hand writing (print or cursive), see my blog post here.