Friday, April 4, 2008

Teaching Someone to Write

[Addendum--1/17/09] Since this particular post receives quite a few hits, I'll direct those who are searching for information on writing fiction to the bottom of my blog where I list a few excellent books on writing. Beyond that, most of the Writer's Digest series of books are pretty good, and there are a number of excellent online workshop sites listed in 'links for writers' on the left side of the blog. Good Writing![end]

I teach my kids at home.

With a few exceptions, my older kids are free to study what they want.

My son has decided he wants to learn how to write fiction.

I can teach him that because I've studied it.

I can't teach him trignonometry, or chemistry, or advanced physics. But I can teach him the principles of fiction writing.

We started with a few basic elements of the story--character, setting, basic plot--which all quickly progressed into a thousand-ideas session, a free association session in which we batted story ideas back and forth. By the end of it he had a pretty good story idea going, then went off to start writing it.

But we hadn't discussed how to start a story yet.

He brought me what he had done and I read it. It was OK, but he knew I would have 'buts.' He knows me well enough and knows very well that picking apart stories for the purpose of making them better is what I do--and do well. So we then had a discussion on conflict and resolution and where to start a story based upon what the story's main conflict is and what he might want to do to resolve it.

He took it all in nobly--but I didn't get much done teaching anyone else that day.

That is both the beauty and the challenge of homeschooling--to be flexible enough to concentrate on an area of keen interest while still accomplishing what needs to be accomplished. I tell you, I wouldn't give it up for the world. It has been an amazing experience for us all. But in order to do it, sacrifices must be made. The greatest sacrifice for me is that my progress as a writer is tremendously slower than it might be. But that's OK. I can wait because my kids are worth it.

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