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Does Your Home School or Gifted Child Need Professional Writing Tips from a Published Author?

Mar 20, 2008
Would you waste money on an opera ticket for this guy?
'Of course I love opera,' he said, foot tapping restlessly.

Research has shown that the old adage is true: Actions (such as a foot tapping) do speak louder than words. So when we write, we should 'show' with actions, not 'tell' with words.

Kids like to state outright: 'Michael was in a bad mood.' However to make it convincing they should actually show Michael in action.

List what a teenager would do if he came home annoyed:
* Slam the front door
* Throw his bag into the bedroom
* Kick off his shoes
* Head to the kitchen - and the fridge
* Complain there was no food.

So now you have the ideas, it's easy to put this all together into a paragraph.

She was just powering down the computer when the door slammed. Michael was home.

'Hi,' she called. 'How was school?'

There was a grunt, barely heard, and then the sound of a bag hitting the bedroom floor hard. Not good. She sighed and headed into the kitchen. Michael was already there, staring with slumped shoulders into the open fridge.

'Darn,' he said, shoving the door shut hard. 'There's never anything to eat in this house!'

She took a deep breath and counted to ten before she replied.

Showing, (not telling) takes longer to do, but it brings characters to life and is far more convincing too.

Ask your kids to brainstorm about 20 things that 'show' a Dad hates gardening.
e.g. the weeds are 30 cm tall.
e.g. he goes off to the hardware store - and takes 4 hours to get back.

When the list is long and interesting, get kids to pick a few things and write a paragraph to 'show' exactly what Dad feels about gardening.

I often give younger kids an opening sentence as it helps them to focus.

'What great weather we've got for the working bee,' said Mum, pulling on her gardening gloves.

They can ignore this of course if they have a better idea.

To reinforce the skill, students can do this every morning for a week. Here are some sample topics:

A teacher is about to get married.
e.g. Her nails are always painted so she can flash the ring around.
Opening sentence: 'Now, next term I won't be here of course,' said Miss Bettersley...

A parent and a kid are always fighting about playing computer games.
e.g. Kid flicks the screen off every time the parent comes in.
Opening sentence: 'How did the Maths test go?' I was barely home from school and Mum was on my back again.

The new neighbours are a pain.
e.g. The radio plays loud sport every weekend in their back garden.
Opening sentence: 'Hey Mate, can you turn the footy down a bit?' yelled Dad over the fence.

A girl thinks a guy is really hot, but is too shy to tell him. (Or vice versa)
e.g. She stammers and mumbles when they talk.
Opening sentence: 'Isn't that Ken over there?' asked Shelly.

Remember the chunking concept. Don't get kids to write a whole story, just one paragraph.

(c) Jen McVeity, National Literacy Champion.
About the Author
The fun Seven Steps to Writing Success program, by successful author, Jen McVeity, is in 900+ schools. Suited to the home school curriculum & gifted children, it has rapidly increased students' writing skills and enjoyment. Visit http://www.sevenstepswriting.com for top writing tips and activities - more in the free Parent Newsletters. Click on 'Sample' tab for a free Story Starters Worksheet.
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