I work with kids who love to read and write. They love to read and write so much, they want to publish their own stories. They squeal with delight at the prospect of having their very own book published with their name on the cover.
Most authors can imagine their book – that part is easy. What can be much more challenging is knowing what story will go between those imagined book covers.
How can adults help a kid author (KA) choose a story? And stick with it? The number one thing you can do is listen. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind while listening to the story ideas bubbling out of the KA in your life.
As you listen, your KA might land on one idea that really resonates and the commitment is made.
If that doesn’t happen, and there are two or more ideas your KA is trying to decide between, encourage her to dip her toe into each story. I recommend you take notes on a separate piece of paper for each idea and answer a series of questions. You can even make a mind map on one side of the page and answer the questions on the other.
Here are questions that can help you focus on each story:
Go back to noticing. Is your KA equally pumped about each story? Or is there a clear leader? Is she considering two completely different story types, such as mystery verses humor? If so, which one fits her personality more?
Try to keep your opinion to yourself until after you’ve talked through each story. Usually after spending time with each story a writer will see a clear path forward.
There will be a story she is the most excited to write – that’s the one for this project!
Keep your notes on the other story ideas. As your KA transitions into the writing process, it’s important you have a simple system for capturing ideas. It’s common while writing to have other story ideas appear. What we want to avoid is starting on one story, losing interest, and switching to another when a great deal of progress has been made.
This happens to writers all the time.
A bump in the road pops up and there’s an urge to abandon ship. The feeling that writing this story is too hard can nestle into your brain and in an effort to save yourself, it’s best to just walk away.
One of my favorite things about writing and publishing with kids is that when this comes up, we push through and carry on. We can do that because we have a system for capturing the other story ideas that come up. We give them a short amount of time and then switch back to the story we originally committed to.
This system can be a file folder to hold notes, a journal for ideas, a bulletin board with sticky notes or index cards to capture thoughts, or even just one document on your computer titled “Story Ideas.”
It doesn’t matter what the system is; it only matters that you have one.
The next post in this series discusses writing tips you can use at home with your KA’s. In addition to having a system, some of the ideas here will help your KA stick to her story and see it through to the end.
I wish I could write that when your Kid Author (KA) writes a book all…