We have now been in school for one month. Students are beginning to stretch their writing muscles, and many have "finished" their stories. It is time to introduce revision. Revision is seeing your work with new eyes. It is asking yourself how you can make your story better. As adults who have been writing for years, we know this ourselves. But have you ever struggled with the execution of "making your story better"? That's such a vague line, isn't it?
I created a poster listing five strategies I learned while reading material for an online class last year. While many strategies were listed within the material, I chose five that I thought my third graders could understand and put into practice.
I am sharing them with you because they are certainly applicable to any writer of fiction, and some would even apply to writers of nonfiction.
1. What is happening inside me? How do I feel?
This strategy was designed specifically for personal narrative, but couldn't we apply it to our characters as well?
2. Write five new leads. Choose the one that best grabs the reader.
I once had another author tell me every beginning was important in a book. The cover is the first opportunity to grab the reader. Then its the first sentence of the book. Then the first sentence of each chapter. So it follows logically that we would want the very best "firsts" in our writing. Sit down and try this one. I've done it myself and it's very interesting to come up with five different ways to begin a story. There is always one that jumps off the page when I'm finished, and it's usually not the first sentence I wrote!
3. Write five new endings. Choose the best one.
If I can make my beginnings better, I can certainly try the same for my ending. With third graders it's usually encouraging them NOT to end with "THE END".
4. Write more about one sentence.
Have you ever been rereading your work and thought, "That seems pretty choppy." That is the perfect place to try this strategy. How can you better share with your readers what is happening in that spot?
5. What can I leave out?
And now we have the opposite of strategy number four. Sometimes when I am trying to get from point A to point B in my story, I find myself (and my characters) trudging through muddy waters. This is when I need to ask myself, is this scene necessary? Or is that paragraph important? Or even, is that word helpful? If the answer to any of these questions is "no", I consider hitting the delete button.
Just as I hope these strategies will help my third graders grow as writers, I hope they will give you a new approach to revision in your own writing! After all, a good strategy is a good strategy...regardless of our age!
Subscribe to The Price of Trust by Email