Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just The Boys Writing Scary Stories Together

Francine flew off to Banff on Saturday. (Okay, in the interest of accuracy, she flew to Calgary then took land transportation to Banff).

Fran's trip left Alexander and I to our own devices this weekend.

The original thought was that, without Francine's calm head, and clear guidance, and proper influence, Alexander and I would be running wild all weekend, having nothing but pizza parties (okay, we did have one, but ate a healthy, well balanced home made meal Saturday night and a nice hearty breakfast on Sunday), playing video games (well, yes, we did that too, but just for a couple of hours at the neighbour's house), and making huge messes (okay, we did make a few little ones, but we also did some cleaning)

But here was the funny thing.

We spent a lot of time writing.

All week, Alexander has been talking about wanting to write a story on his computer. I told him we'd have a chance to do that on the weekend.

So, Saturday morning, after he woke up he joined me down in the den. I was working on a revision to a novel and across from me, he was beginning his first experience at typing up a story.

I helped him figure out some of the basics such as how to open Word and save a new document, how to BOLD a selection of text and how to delete and replace a word.

Here is his first attempt at a story he was itching to tell . . .

Immediately after writing, then printing this first draft of his story, he took out some pencil crayons and added some illustrations to it. I love it. I think I'm going to have it framed.

Then, this morning, during the Sunday morning father and son writing session, he expressed the fact that the story wasn't over and he had more to tell. I was delighted to hear this. I then explained to him the importance of re-reading the previous day's work and working on a second draft. As part of this exercise, I asked him to explain a few things to me.

When I told him that the first sentence didn't make sense because it wasn't a proper sentence, he explained that it was an overview/summary of the story. So we talked about it and he modified it slightly and I suggested that he add an indicator that it wasn't part of the story.

Then we had a quick chat about POV. I gently explained that he couldn't write "Alex" using a third person narrator, then revert to "we" and "me" -- but that he had to keep the point of view the story was being told from consistent.

He immediately caught on and said: "I should change Alex to I." I nodded vigorously.

Then I explained a bit about past and present tense. I wasn't even half-way through my intended explanation when he said: "I need to change it from see to saw."

"Exactly!" I said.

"And change run to ran."


So he made the changes and then began working on the next "chapter" of his his story.

At a certain point, because he kept asking me how to spell words, I took him up to his room and we pulled out two difference dictionaries he had there and brought them downstairs. I showed him he could look up words he wanted to know how to spell in either his The Cat in the Hat Beginning Book Dictionary or his Macmillan First Dictionary. (The latter was a bit more sophisticated and had a lot more words and more descriptive meanings).

He was rather pleased with the exercise of looking up words he didn't know how to spell, but then he asked why he would use more than one dictionary and I showed him Daddio's four different dictionaries, and told him that writers often use these types of writers tools to help them, depending on what was important at the time.

We didn't get into the hundred or so other writer guides and other reference books on the shelf to the immediate left of my writing space. Those lessons will come at a future day.

I was initially pleased at how productive this past weekend was for my own writing. But I'm tickled pink, and as proud as can be to see my son enjoying the simple yet powerful act of pouring his creative spirit into words on a page.


lime said...

how completely wonderful! i am so delighted for both of you.

Carol Weekes said...

The making of another author; wonderful! And to have a Dad who can mentor you like this will not only produce future publishing talent, but will always be wonderful nostalgia to Alexander when he's an adult author. Kudos to you both! And happy writing!