Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Guest Post by Kandi J. Wyatt

 Kandi J. Wyatt has long been one of my favorite authors. Her fantasy dragon series has kept my students reading book after book.  Yesterday we revealed the cover to her newest addition to the series.  Today she has written a special post that is really geared toward my number one reader, my students. As a teacher she knows what students like.  This post is perfect because our next unit my students will be writing a story. Of course, in November there is always NaNoWriMo.  Please help me welcome Kandi J. Wyatt.

Your teacher gave you an assignment to write a story, or maybe you have a really cool idea for a story, but what now? Well, it’s really not as difficult as you’d think. In essence there are only five things you need for a story.

First, you need a genre. Genre is your category that you write in. If you’re writing a story, you’re most likely using fiction. There are many genres in fiction to choose from—Western, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Historical Fiction, and Romance to name a few. Each of the genres have different aspects to them, but as long as you understand the main ideas, you’re good to go.

After a genre, you need a setting. Setting is where and when your story takes place. Is your mystery taking place in a haunted house in the 2000’s, or is your science fiction happening on a new planet in the year 3500? Either way, you need a place and a time. Place can be as big as a country, a world, or a planet. It can be as defined as a woods, castle, space ship, or haunted house. When will decide what can happen. If your story takes place in the medieval times with knights and kings, you’re not going to have someone show up with a machine gun—unless you have a time traveler who comes from the future.

Your next two important pieces are your characters. Wait? You said two pieces and only listed one thing. Yep. You need at least two characters—an antagonist and a protagonist. It’s easy to remember these names. If you’re pro-something, you’re for it. Your protagonist is the good guy in your story. If you’re anti-something, you’re against it, so your antagonist is the bad guy.

To build a character you need to know their physical traits but also their personality. What are they like? How do they react to things? Are they easy-going or do they fly off the handle at the slightest provocation? You’ll also need to know what their goals are, why they do what they do. This will help with the final thing you need in order to write a story—plot.

Your plot is what happens. In the Western it’s telling how the good guy helps the town and defeats the bad guy. It’s how the boy gets the girl in a romance, the journey in a fantasy. Remember for a good story, bad things need to happen. Your protagonist can’t get what he wants right off the bat. He needs to work for it.

Now you know the elements that make up story. What I’ve done with my middle school students is Roll-a-Story. It’s something that a college professor created and shared at a writer’s conference. I then created my own versions. These worksheets will walk you through finding your genre, your setting, your character, and your plot. Try it out. I’d love to read what you come up with. You can share your stories with me via my email address.

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