Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Adding Sparkle: Writing Lessons From Little Kids

My students are at the beginning stages of learning to write. But as they were working on a project for Mother's Day, I noticed once again that it's the specific details that make writing come to life.

The kids were completing sentences about their mothers. One began:

When my mom goes shopping, she likes to buy ______________________________.

Of course, they all put "food". That's kind of cute--they assume their mothers love to go to the grocery store, since they do it so often. But one little girl wrote:

When my mom goes shopping, she likes to buy grapes and hot dogs.

See what I mean? Accurate or not, that creates an interesting picture in your mind.

Another sentence began:

My mom is the best mom ever, because she _______________________________.

Several children said "loves me" or "plays with me" or "cooks food for me." Which are all fine.

But one kid said:

My mom is the best mom ever, because she plays Tinkertoys with me.

Specific ... and charming!

Something to think about when revising--it's the details that add sparkle.


bfav said...

Love this. The random detail does create character.

LinWash said...

I love this too. I need to consider the sparkle of details in my novel.

Ruth Donnelly said...

Thanks for the comments bfav and LinWash! When my students say something generic, I'm going to ask them to "tell me more about it". I'll try to remember to say that to myself, too.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Oh that's so cute!! I love that we can take a lesson from little kids. :D It was nice seeing you on my blog, thanks for visiting and commenting.

Ruth Donnelly said...

Thanks for stopping by & commenting, Lisa!

Marcia said...

When my oldest was in third grade, he had to write what was great about his mom for Mother's Day. He was not a reader/writer at all, but this was his opening line, "My mom is special because she says yes a lot." And I just immediately saw that on so many levels. Sure, he may have meant I wasn't too strict, but I saw it as a positive attitude or saying yes to life. I LOVE what kids can come out with.

Ruth Donnelly said...

Lisa, thanks for visiting & commenting!

Marcia, I would take that in the broader sense, too. I think your son gave you a wonderful compliment!

Judith van Praag said...

Hi Ruth, You visited my blog and left a comment with my #Trust30 #1 prompt response. This in turn brings me to your blog. Talking about detail, I love the name, "Readatouille", saying the word out loud brings home the double innuendo. Love it!