My Young Writer and his Blog

The boy has been writing Scooby Doo stories for years. When he was little they would be mostly pictures with a little writing, but over the years they have morphed into full-length stories. One of his goals is to be a published writer of Scooby Doo books, and to that end, he has finally decided to create a new blog where he can share his stories and drawings.

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He just started the blog this week, so there is only a few posts as of now. He has a short story, a picture, and a full story (over 50 pages) that can be downloaded as a PDF and read.

The boy is so excited about his new blog. He finally has a place where he can publish his work and see what happens. If you have a Scooby fan in your midst, please come on over to the Scooby Snacks Club and read his stories. Thanks.

What to do with a gifted writer?

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My youngest son is a writer. He has been a writer from the beginning. When he was three he would wander around not so much with a book in his hand, as the twins did, but with a pad of paper and a pencil. I have some of his earliest books that he wrote, cute little Mr. Men inspired books, that have a cover, a story, and illustrations. He was making these at four.

Since this time he has stayed with writing, never straying from it. It is his passion, and it is how he identifies himself. The youngest boy spends hours a day writing, and I try to give him the time and space for this. But I have struggled a little recently with trying to figure out how to cultivate this passion of his.

I have found that it is not as easy to find materials for an advanced writer as it would be for a student advanced in mathematics or the sciences. I think part of the reason for this is that there is not as much material out there especially for gifted writers and part of this is that it is hard for younger students to take advanced language art classes (where writing is usually lumped in) because the material may be inappropriate for younger students. The book choices in many of the high school classes I have looked at would be over a younger student’s head in many ways. The themes and meanings of these books are usually best understood when you are older and have more experience.

So what to do? How should I approach this boy and his passion? Up to now I have mostly been hands-off and let him lead the way. This has worked great, but I do feel he is at a point where he is ready to get to the next level in his writing, and I need to provide him with some resources to help him. I have spent some time these past few weeks looking at what was out there and have put together several resources for him this semester. I am hoping this will be enough for now.

1. Books and lectures about writing – I recently discovered that he enjoys listening to writers talk about writing. I just downloaded the audiobook of Writer to Writer by Gail Carson Levine and he loves it. Actually we have all been listening to it with him, and we are all enjoying it. It is full of some good advice and listening to another writer talk about the process has inspired him.

Because he is enjoying this book so much I decided to also get some lectures on writing from The Great Courses. These are obviously written for older writers, but I thought we would work our way through them slowly. He is at the same age as the twins were when they began enjoying many of these courses, so I am hoping he will too.

2. Online classes – I signed him up for a Brave Writer class last fall not really knowing what to expect. I wasn’t sure how the class (Just So Stories) would be set up, and I wasn’t sure that he would find the experience enjoyable and challenging. To my surprise he was very happy with it, and although it is a multi-age class for writers of all abilities, he found he fit in as well as everyone else. The boy ended the class writing a story in a genre he never would have if he hadn’t taken the class.

Because of this great experience I have signed him up for two writing classes this semester. One is with Bravewriter again and the other is through Gifted Homeschoolers Online. In this class the students will create a town through writing which is an interesting approach. The boy picked out this class himself, and he is very much looking forward to it.

3. Self-publishing – The boy has gotten to a point where he could benefit from getting his work out there. I am not sure how to approach this yet, but we have decided to start a writer’s blog for him where he can share not only some of his work but also his thoughts on writing. I am going to help him with this over the next few months and hopefully by March or April he will have a little blog of his own.

4. Reading biographical books about authors – I was pleasantly surprised last year by how much the boy delighted in reading several books I picked out about writers when they were young. The books most loved by him were Small Steps and The DreamerThis semester I am going to have him read some more. I haven’t compiled a booklist yet, as I am still researching. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have a list of books.

5. Audiobooks – He has a subscription to Audible, for he loves to listen to books almost as much as he loves to write them. Although he reads every day this was not enough for him. With an Audible subscription and with Overdrive from the library (a free service) he listens to several books a month. To me reading is tied into writing, so I am happy to support this love.

DIY Writing Prompts

I have posted several times about how much I love these writing prompts for teens. They are creative, intelligent, and interesting making them worth a teen’s time.

Autry loves writing prompts and lately she has been making her own. She has discovered that she enjoys making up writing prompts almost as much as she does responding to one. She uses her own pictures or drawings and comes up with the prompt and layout on her own.  Here are a few of hers:

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Looking at all of her writing prompts made me realize that this could make for an interesting creative writing exercise. Instead of responding to prompts, the student would have to create their own for others. They would need to come up with the prompt, include artwork or a photo, and create the layout. Then they could present the prompt to others and have them respond. This is another activity to add to our creative writing exercises and one I would recommend for others.

Writing Fun

The kids and I are still enjoying this wonderful site full of writing prompt ideas.  Here is the latest prompt that we all worked on.

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The kids and I sit around the table together, and I show them the prompt. Then we write (yes I write with them) for fifteen minutes or so, and then we share what we have written. There are no rules, and we never criticize or correct. It is purely a fun exercise that is supposed to get the creative juices flowing.  Here is what the kids wrote for this latest prompt:

Tru

It was early in the morning, and I was already ridding along on my dinosaur looking for people who needed an ambulance. As I was passing though the forest I noticed a 10-year-old boy lying beside the road looking injured. “Hello boy” said I “what’s the matter?”

“Nothing is wrong” said the boy, “I’m in perfectly good health.”

“But, your holding out your wand arm!” said I. To which the boy replied: “what does that even mean!”

“To call the dinosaur ambulance you have to hold out your wand arm!” said I. “Oh…” said the boy, “well I’m fine so go away!” and so I rode off.

Later that day I had just stopped to rest when I noticed the same boy standing a few feet away with the police. “That’s the guy!” he shouted. “The crazy one!” The police walked over. “Sir” said the tall one “you know that it’s illegal to ride dinosaurs right?”

“Buddy buddy please!” said I “I have been doing this job for 500 years and I have never been arrested!”

“Sorry pal” said the short one “but the laws the law.”

“Since when” said I.

“Since yesterday” replied the tall one. And so I was arrested and sentenced to five long years in Oklahoma. I knew I had to escape from the horrors of Oklahoma, so I summoned St. George using the ancient vegetarian restaurant incantation and escaped to California. THE END

Autry

Day 2: #DinosaurAmbulence
 I wish people would take my job more seriously! Honestly, how many strangers have I thundered past_ strangers, mind you, who look as though they haven’t a life’s commitment of their own_ who stand still as statues and look after me, then recover their shock to call after me:
 “Get a life, you no-good dinosaur-riding…!”
 My dinosaur, whom I have affectionately named Lola, usually smirks after these onlookers and makes a sign at them with her tail that is understood to be very rude amongst dinosaurs. I try not to pay attention to them; my job is far more important.
~I AM A TIME TRAVELING, DINOSAUR-RIDING PARAMEDIC.~
Today, we only received two distress signals from across the ages. Lola can sense when anyone from any time and anywhere needs our help, and then she takes me there. I make things right; Lola eats things that are wrong. First, we came to the aid of a very rich Georgian Lady who was bombarded by a host of dead cats which were thrown at her by peasants (Lola ate the cats). Then, we  saved a knight from your typical castle-siege in which boiling oil and the heads of your enemies are thrown at you (Lola ate these two, and tried to drink the oil). All a normal day on the job.
-The dino-riding, time-traveling paramedic.

Decca

I ran with a stupid man on my back. He saves people. I eat them.

“Go faster T!” the man yelled.

T? Puff… what a stupid name! It’s Tyrannosaurus-Rex, T-Rex, puff. Stupid name. But humans don’t understand me. I started hearing wonderful music and ran towards it.

“What the heck are you doing T?” asked the man. “Bad T-Rex.”

A pet? Is that what he thinks I am? I felt the need to roll-over and squish him, but that would be a waste of my lunch. As I stopped in front of the house, the man slid off me and entered the house. Hours later he returned. I opened my mouth. He screamed. The man was delicious.

Motivating Your Writer

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I have two kids who love to write and one who struggles with it. In the beginning years my son and I would do most of his school orally to help him along. When he got older I slowly added more and more writing to his days to build up his confidence and stamina (he use to struggle with the physical act of writing). Now that we are in the high school years, he and his sister work on a great deal of academic writing, but I try to balance this writing with creative writing. The reason for this: I have learned over the years that this is best way to motivate my son and to build his confidence.

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One of his favorite outlets for writing is RPG Maker. RPG maker is perfect for kids or teens who enjoy making video games and telling a story.

It also has the added bonus of importing your own graphics which is perfect for my son. He spends hours on his computer creating his own characters.

Twisted Mind Reborn RPG

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If you are interested in RPG maker they do have free trials. I recommend trying it out first to make sure it is a good fit for your child because it is somewhat pricey.

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Another activity that motivates my son is group writing with his siblings and Google Drive. The kids have made some fairly complex stories together this way. If you are interested in learning about this method check out my previous post here.

The other activity we do is timed free writing based on a random prompt. We normally do this as a family, sitting around the table together with tea and muffins. I usually just make up a prompt, but yesterday I stumbled across this great Tumblr with writing prompts for teens.

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I was so excited to use a new writing prompt. I made the kids some pumpkin muffins, the kids made tea, and we sat down to eat and write. I set a time limit because it seems to free the kids. They have the opportunity to write whatever they want about the topic in ten minutes. Then we share our writings with each other. Spelling doesn’t matter, grammar doesn’t matter, length doesn’t matter, it is just an exercise in getting down one’s thoughts and ideas. It is quite fun and another way I am able to motivate my son.

 

Newspaper’s Last Adventure and Creative Writing

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I inherited my brother’s cat last May. Newspaper was an old cat with many problems. He couldn’t jump up onto the counter to eat. He seemed to miss the littler box quite often. He ate and ate and ate. He also drank and drank and drank but not from a water bowl. No, that would have been too easy. He drank from the plant holder. He also ate the plant in said plant holder, and it died.

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But he was a lovely cat, very mellow and unique. The other cats loved him, Kingsley loved him, and the kids and I loved him.

Last month Newspaper got sick, and we lost him fairly quickly. It was a sad day for everyone, and we miss him still. But we remember with fondness one of Newspaper’s last adventures. An adventure he had about a week before he died with one of our other cats, Apple.

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Apple is an outdoor cat who spends her time outside in the bushes chasing bunnies and rolling in the dirt. Newspaper was a former outdoor cat who spent his last years inside the house and out on our balcony where he would enjoy the sunshine. He had no desire to go outside at all. But on this fateful day, I left the front door open for a minute and out he shot. He wanted one last day in the great outdoors.

Tru was worried about Newspaper, so he went outside to try to find him. What he saw amazed him. Newspaper, the cat who could hardly walk or jump, was zipping through the bushes with Apple having the time of his life. He did not want to come in, instead he was avoiding Tru at every turn. Tru came home without him still worried. Newspaper followed about an hour later, tired and worn out.

A week later he was gone, but all of us still talk about his last great adventure. I decided yesterday that we would all write about it, as I thought it made for such a great story. The kids and I sat around the table and wrote for ten minutes. Here is each of the kid’s take on Newspaper and his final adventure.

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Decca

The Final Adventure

The cats, Newspaper and Apple, stepped out the open door. Newspaper was 15 years old in human years. He was very old and mostly napped the entire day. Apple was 4. She was an outdoor cat. Down into the nature preserve they went. Apple saw a rabbit.

“Let’s get it,” Apple said, pointing to the rabbit.

Newspaper slowly nodded. “Yeah” he said slowly. “Kill it!”

“I mean, how fun is it for an old cat and a young cat to capture a rabbit?” Apple asked.

It was like Newspaper was young again. He caught the rabbit.

“Look at all the blood!” Apple said. “Yum! Let’s eat!”

Newspaper and Apple devoured the rabbit. There was only a leg left. Apple took it.

“Give that back!” Newspaper yelled.

“No-no-no!” Apple yelled.

Newspaper chased Apple around. Soon, he caught the rabbit leg. He ate it.

“LOL!” cheered Newspaper.

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Tru

Newspapers Last Adventure:

The two cats slowly crept though the bushes when suddenly a rabbit leaped out from the foliage. ~A quick intermission:CATS EAT RABBITS thank you~ They were off, quickly chasing the rabbit through the shrubbery, and Newspaper, old in his age, felt young inside once again.
Soon Newspaper and Apple had the rabbit in their clutches! They began to devour it. Suddenly Tru dashed through the bushes in hopes of grabbing Newspaper! As soon as Newspaper saw Tru he leapt away. His time outside was not over yet.
Tru went home felling really depressed. He thought that Newspaper was gone for good, but soon after the cat returned like a triumphant hero!
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Autry
Newspaper’s Last Great Adventure
A flit of gray, a flash of blue, a shining coat of black and white,
And on this day, when old was new, two cats stepped out into the light.
Then time stood still, under the sun,
It mattered not ten years to one,
And back there came, afresh, anew, a surge of memories undone.The blue-eyed cat with bristled hair was suddenly a kit so young
Like days gone by, so fresh and fair, in meadows in where flowers were hung.
The black and white now somehow seemed
A little sister long forgot
And suddenly he sprang away
As if his age did matter not.Like friends of old, they quickly fell
A rabbit in the misty dell.
The sun did smile down on them as chase they played and oh so well.
And under the boughs of the evergreens, the aged cat did play and run
And felt as if his life was fresh, as if from sleep he’d newly sprung.

And in the very end of days, when all was cold and fading fast,
The songs of old did quickly play, the songs of the happy life he’d past
And he remembered the sister kit, the smiling kids, the mother’s love,
And he thought to himself, what an adventure life is.
And mine has been more than enough.