Writing Skills Personal Writing A Workshop for 4th Grade With a focus on Personal Narratives L. Rozelle, Winter 2010 What is Personal Writing? 1. Personal writing is when you write about yourself and express your own thoughts and opinions. 2. Personal writing depends very much on your connection to your subject, so choose a topic that you know a lot about and one that allows you to express yourself freely! Forms of Personal Writing 1. Narrative story – fictional or true (personal narrative) 2. Poetry 3. Letter writing 4. Journal writing – writing is a personal expression of the author’s innermost thoughts, often recorded with privacy in mind. Why personal writing? 1. Writers/authors show others what they think about the world. YOU are an author! 2. Authors express themselves by sharing personal thoughts either for only themselves in a journal … or to share with others. 3. To entertain or give pleasure to the reader. Why do we read? Why personal writing? • To remember and record memories. • To communicate feelings and emotions – writing from your heart! • To share an event with a friend. • Tell the reader what you’ve learned as a result of an event in your life. What is a Personal Narrative 1. A personal narrative is one way to tell a story about something you feel strongly about – in chronological order with a plot and story line. 2. Do not just list the events: We did this, and then we did this, and next we did this, and last we did this. Boring … 3. A story is more interesting to the reader! 4. Topics revolve around things you have enjoyed, such as some type of event that happened in your own life. For a Personal Narrative 1. Focus on moments in which everyone of your senses were alive – something that made you feel something or notice something: 1. A special memory of a birthday party or celebration 2. Your first meeting with someone 3. An especially scary experience of spending the night alone in a strange place Freely jot down ideas! Brainstorm means write down each and every idea that comes to your mind! Personal Narratives have … 1. A story that is written about YOU in chronological order, which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. 2. The story has a plot line. 3. A setting is described. 4. Characters and dialogue included 5. Problem and solution 6. Descriptive writing & figurative language in your story. Create an image in the reader’s mind. Mountain Flow Map A story that you read or write has a plot. A plot is all of the action in the story in chronological (sequential) order. MIDDLE Rising Action/Middle MIDDLE / Turning Point Climax/Turning Point The point in the story when the tension is at the highest level, or when the solution to the problem is just about to be revealed, or shown, to the reader. The middle part of your story will be MOST of the story … including dialogue sensory details and amazing word choice! ENDING Resolution/Ending The end of the story, which tells how the story ends. It may reveal the solution or what was learned. MIDDLE Rising Action/Middle The central part of a story which includes a problem or problems or some kind of built up tension in the story. Author’s weave their message or a “big idea” into the plot of their story. BEGINNING The Beginning 1. Good lead that introduces the main idea and draws the reader in. 2. Setting: Time and place 3. Characters: introduced This is a “skeleton” or brief sketch of your story, not the actual rough draft. How to find a good topic? Sometimes the topic is given to you and you must brainstorm to come up with a great personal narrative … Other times you are given some choices on what you will write about. In this case, always write something that excites you; something you feel passionate about; something you have a lot to say about. You may make up some details that you do not remember well. Details draw your reader in!!! Steps to Prewriting/Brainstorming! If you have to come up with your own topic, these are some things you can do to brainstorm: 1. Brainstorm possible topics in a circle thinking map. 2. Then select the topic you will write about. 3. In a circle map you may write down your ideas or draw pictures for your ideas! Circle Map Brainstorm Ideas! My trip to Paris, France Saving money to buy a present for my mom. Going to pick out my first puppy Flying to Hawaii A day in the snow My Hawaii Vacation My time on the computer A day at the Santa Monica pier and beach Story Ideas The first memory of Christmas Trip to the farmer’s market My first day of 1st grade Waiting for my baby sister to be born My favorite lunch box My favorite backpack My first best friend Circle Map Brainstorm Ideas! Story Ideas More Steps to Brainstorming 1. Brainstorm the details of your setting and your characters and what they are like. 2. Brainstorm your topic in a sensory chart. 3. Brainstorm the events in a cluster chart -- the things that happen that are important to the main idea. 4. You may also complete a mountain flow map. Bring your topic into FOCUS! What kind of a story will it be? Funny story, an adventure, a mysterious story, or simply an entertaining story? • Brainstorm all the details of your setting. • Describe the character traits of your characters. • Describe the situation of your story; the background of your story. Answer the 5Ws: Who, What, Where, When, Why? Excellent tips for brainstorming: 1. Choose a topic that allows you to express yourself in detail! 2. For a personal narrative, this includes any event about you! 3. Focus on moments in which all of your senses were alive! This event extremely activated your senses. You may organize your thoughts in a sensory chart, based around the experience you will write about. Feel, Touch, Taste, See, Smell … Sensory Chart See Hear Taste Smell Touch Feel 5 Ws Chart – an example Characters What happens? Setting Setting Who What Where When Me You may want to Mom use the Dad cluster Little chart to brother, brainSam storm Grandma the events that are important to your main topic. When I was seven, … Hawaii? Santa Monica beach? A stormy day at school in the winter 2009? Purpose Why Purpose or lesson learned You are the author. What was the big idea or author’s messag e in your story? Weave it into your story! Characters & their traits What are your characters like? Timid, fearful, brave, funny? What do they like and dislike? What are you like? What are you thinking/ feeling? 5 Ws Chart – an example Topic: “My flight to visit my uncle” Who: Me, Mom, Miss Hughes (flight attendant) What: I was flying on an airplane When: Over the holidays Where: Going to Puerto Rico Why: To visit my uncle This is a good way to organize your topic. Cluster Chart – Brainstorm some details I kept snapping my rubber watchband. The hallways were decorated with paintings or flowers. Setting: Hospital, springtime Characters: Grandma, me Topic: Waiting for my baby sister to be born I looked at the new babies sleeping and wiggling. It seems like we were there forever watching people run around. I ate grilled cheese sandwiches in the cafeteria. Grandma’s fuzzy yellow sweater smelled good and felt soft. Mountain Flow Map A story that you read or write has a plot. A plot is all of the action in the story in chronological (sequential) order. MIDDLE Rising Action/Middle MIDDLE / Turning Point Climax/Turning Point The point in the story when the tension is at the highest level, or when the solution to the problem is just about to be revealed, or shown, to the reader. The middle part of your story will be MOST of the story … including dialogue sensory details and amazing word choice! ENDING Resolution/Ending The end of the story, which tells how the story ends. It may reveal the solution or what was learned. MIDDLE Rising Action/Middle The central part of a story which includes a problem or problems or some kind of built up tension in the story. Author’s weave their message or a “big idea” into the plot of their story. BEGINNING The Beginning 1. Good lead that introduces the main idea and draws the reader in. 2. Setting: Time and place 3. Characters: introduced This is a “skeleton” or brief sketch of your story, not the actual rough draft. details Make your story interesting! The more focused you are on one topic (one moment), the more details, and the more creative you are with your writing … then the more engaged your reader will be and the more interesting your story will be! Hurray!!! Make your story interesting! Keep your reader interested with your amazing word choice: 1. Be specific! Specific nouns and specific and active verbs and adjective and adverbs. 2. Descriptive and figurative language 3. Dialogue – speaking parts that add life to your story and tell us about your characters. 4. Show what you’re thinking and feeling! Personal Narratives: A Review 1. Personal narratives are written in the first person (using “I”). 2. Personal narratives are written in the past tense. Use PAST TENSE verbs because it already happened. 3. It is a retelling of an event using story elements: setting, character, plot (this is not a just listing what happened). 4. You highlight only one specific moment. Writing your rough draft • As you write your draft, pretend you are telling a friend. Your personal voice will come out more. • Writing details that are connected to your main topic will give richness to your writing. Engage your reader! What does that mean? Create images in reader’s heads with your details. Drafting your beginning 1. Muy Importante! As the writer you must address the writing prompt at the beginning of the story so that your reader knows the topic of your story. 2. Hook the reader with a good beginning: 1. Describe the setting and situation, 2. Show action and dialogue 3. Remember that you must introduce the topic at the beginning of your rough draft and then take your reader on a journey! Vroom!!! Review all of your brainstorming notes I kept snapping my rubber watchband. The hallways were decorated with paintings or flowers. Setting: Hospital, springtime Characters: Grandma, me Topic: Waiting for my baby sister to be born I looked at the new babies sleeping and wiggling. It seems like we were there forever watching people run around. I ate grilled cheese sandwiches in the cafeteria. Grandma’s fuzzy yellow sweater smelled good and felt soft. Draft your beginning They were behind the glass window, wiggling and crying. I’d never seen so many babies in one place! I was standing there because I’d gotten up to take a walk down the hallway of the hospital after my grandmother had asked me to stop making so much noise. I had been nervously snapping my rubber watchband against my wrist for the last hour. I really didn’t notice I had been doing this, but we were both impatiently waiting for my baby sister to be born. It seemed like we’d been waiting forever! Introducing the topic! … but we were both impatiently waiting for my baby sister to be born. This line at the end of the first paragraph introduced the topic of the personal narrative story. Muy importante!!!! In this story, the author grabs the reader’s attention describing the action in the middle of the story … and then in the 2nd paragraph the author goes back to the beginning of the story … and later writes the ending. Draft your beginning We arrived at the hospital around two o’clock that morning and now it was five a.m. We knew that everything was fine because a nurse had come and told us so, but we were still worried. It was strangely quiet in hallways, which were decorated with paintings of huge flowers in bright colors like incredibly blue blues and extra-orange oranges. I was glad that my grandmother had worn her fuzzy sweater because it felt so nice when I put my head down on her shoulder. The only time we’d moved out Draft your beginning of our seats was when we’d gone to the cafeteria to eat breakfast. Since they didn’t have the kind of cereal I liked, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. Finally, after I’d looked at the newborn infants for awhile, I returned to find my grandmother speaking with a nurse. My baby sister had just been born! Wow! I was now a big brother and life was going to be much, much different. Rules for Writing 1. The best way to write better is to write more! 2. The best way to write better is to write more! 3. The best way to write better is to write more! 4. The best way to write more is to write even when you only have 5 minutes or whenever you find a chair and a pen or paper or a computer. Rules for Writing 5. Read! Reading books shows you how to write stories. 6. There’s nothing wrong with rereading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that only reading a book once cannot. 7. Save everything you write, even if you don’t like it, even if you hate it! The writing is a piece of you that you can come back to later in your life! Writer’s Oath I promise solemnly: 1. To write as often and as much as I can 2. To respect my writing self, and 3. To nurture the writing of others. I accept these responsibilities and shall honor them always.