Sunday, August 22, 2010

Assignment 5-Character

Out of all the Institute of Children's Literature assignments, I think this one has helped me the most so far.
I've had a terrible time trying to create a character. With this lesson I was to observe a child and then describe this child to my instructor. I learned how to use strong descriptions. The second part of the lesson I was to create a personality for this character. It was easier to do this with a child I wasn't familiar with.

I went to a girl's basketball ball game and had several"characters" I could choose from. When it came to writing the personality part, I had free reign to have her do what I wanted her to do.

After this assignment I took my notebook where ever there was going to be a crowd. I have since picked up many other characters.

Then after I had my characters created I could put them into stories or just let them tell me their stories.

I had heard of authors saying they "talk" to their characters or their characters talked to them. This had never happened to me before this lesson. Now all those characters I have "picked up " are clamoring for attention.

Oh, Jaxon is calling to me and we haven't been able to talk to each other until now, so if you' excuse me...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Institute of Children's Literature #4

Lesson 4
Starts Part Two:
Taking a New Perspective.
I have received more books!
a market directory-Magazine Markets for Children Writers,and two textbooks:
Searching: A research Guide for Writers and
Essentials of English

Assignment 4 Is to write 500-1000 words of a nonfiction article. It can be on any topic.
This lesson focuses on the nonfiction and can be a How- To article, or science or history. The lesson leads you through the process of selecting your topic, researching it and narrowing the focus down.

I was doing some research for a speech for my son when I came across the name of a woman, Mary Edwards Walker. She is the only woman to have received the Medal of Honor. This intrigued me and I had to find out more about her.

When this lesson came along I had already done quite a bit of research on her and the times she lived. This lesson really helped me put together what I felt was a good article. The response from my instructor was also very encouraging.

I am still struggling with the research part though. I found lots of information on her, but they are primary sources. so if you write nonfiction and know the ropes of how to access primary sources, please leave comments.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Assignment 3

The assignment for lesson 3 was to write a 500 word memoir description targeted to a young reader.
Sounds easy, just 500 words. The problem is once I got started I couldn't stop. Getting start was hard alone. Which memory would I choose? The one about sister getting stuck in a tree? The one when I fractured my collarbone? Or the one when my baby sister was born? Would any of these interest anybody?
I finally chose to describe my grandparent's home. Even though we lived in the age of TV and electricity, my grandmother still chose to cook on her wood stove (even in the summer!) they had no TV! only a radio.
I found lots to describe and was told by my instructor that I "effectively hit all of the senses."
That was another tip they gave us which I have seen suggested in other writing books: To highlight a sense in a color.
So for sound I used green, feel-red,smell-blue, sight-hot pink, and so on. It really is helpful to see if you are using all of the senses or if you are using only one or two. It makes you think: What did grandma's house smell like?

Another tip the instructor gave was when describing something from the past that the young reader may not be familiar with. I had described the string hanging from a light bulb, but did not say what the string was for. That got me thinking of other things that are different now. Most phones don't have cords. I don't think any of my kids know what it is like to try to have a private phone conversation when the only phone you have is in the family room. They are not going to leave the room just so I could talk to my boyfriend.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I can't claim this organizational tip as my own, this came from my good friend Pat.

When I first started the Long Ridge writing course, she bought me a notebook and put pockets in them and instructed me to keep all my work in them. This has proved invaluable. As I proceed in the course, I am to refer back to previous assignments. Keeping it all organized is a big help.
I do have it organized on computer and backed up to a flash drive. Each folder is labeled by assignments. I keep what I sent and then I also keep an edited version (what the instructor sends back).
This photo shows the folder I keep my hard copies in. I also print out any "Talk Abouts" my instructor has suggested for further reading. Then if I need more help in another area like "weedy words" I can find it quickly. I can always find these on the student center for Institute of Children's Literature, but I still like to hold papers inmy hand and have them there at the computer when I am working on my assignments.

Do you have a unique way of organizing your work in progress?