Writing skills are valuable assets that students will use throughout their lives. As parents and teachers, we know that motivating them to write isn’t always easy. Realistic stories involve students in the writing process. Most boys and girls can think of situations that happened or could have happened in real life, but they need guidance to develop stories. Once they understand the elements, students typically enjoy creating realistic fiction. It takes several days-even weeks-for effective, realistic stories to emerge.
Introduce the realistic fiction genre. Read a realistic-fiction story to the class. Keep it simple. Discuss the elements of the story. Post them in the classroom as a visual cue.
As a class, brainstorm problems or dilemmas that might occur in real life. Tell students to think of their own problems or those of their friends, relatives, neighbors and classmates. Give their creative juices a jump start.
Ask students to plan their individual stories. They will just jot down notes and ideas. They might outline more than one possible story. Encourage them to continually make changes as new thoughts pop into their heads. Talk them through the following elements:
Main Character: Make the character seem as though he’s real. Maybe he’ll be based on someone you really know. How old will your character be? What’s his name? How does he look and act? Dialogue will help bring the character to life.
Setting: Where and when will this story take place? It will probably be modern and familiar.
Problem: Come up with a convincing dilemma.
Scenes: What are some of the things your character might try in order to solve the problem?
Purpose: Decide on the emotion. Are you going to have a funny, scary or sad story?
Place students in pairs or small “talk” groups. Each individual tells the other group members her story plan. This will help her to develop the ideas and put them in sequence. Group members can offer valuable input.
Students write their first drafts in three sections:.
The beginning: Open with dialogue, description, a question, an introduction to the main character, or some background information. The beginning should be entertaining and make the reader want to continue.
The middle: The character should go through some changes. Maybe she’s thinking, worrying, or fighting. Incorporate two or three actions into the plot.
The end: Can the problem be solved? Maybe…maybe not. That’s okay, but the character should grow or change in some way.
Encourage students to improve their stories. Talk to them about your own writing. Let them know that you sometimes rewrite a story ten or more times…and you could still make changes even then. Teach them to add more dialogue and to check grammar and spelling. Is the story well-paced? Could a reader picture the character and the action? Working with a partner is very helpful at this point.
The final step is publishing. This is where students write their final drafts. Perhaps they can visit younger boys and girls and share their realistic fiction stories.
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