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Monday, April 20, 2009

Teaching students to ELABORATE their ideas in creative writing.


One way to work on developing ideas at the beginning of the year is for the students to actually count sentences as they develop an idea. This can work with specific writing concepts such as developing a setting or the feelings and emotions that a character is going through. Many teachers cringe upon seeing the word elaborate and would rather refer to it as developing an idea, but if you'll indulge me, this term is used simply for the "8" in the title. Whether working in groups or on their own, the students are given a topic to write on and cannot stop or switch to another topic until they have completed eight sentences that flow well and relate directly to the topic. Let me show you an example with the emotion nervous.

I was so scared I thought I might pee my pants! My legs trembled as I stood like a statue, not knowing what to do. Sweat began to drip from my forehead and back, and my arms were starting to shake from the anticipation of what might be waiting for me on the other side of the door. My legs were heavy lead weights as I forced them forward one baby step at a time. "Oh God, please help me!” I whispered quietly, over and over. My heart was now beginning to race, and I felt that at any moment it was going to explode. Turning the handle slowly, I pulled the door open and as I nervously peeked into the strange room, my eyes bulged out of their sockets at what I saw.

Developing ideas in this way not only creates a more complete story, but engages the reader more fully because he is actually able to see the writer behind the writing. Compare this to a writer who merely states, "I was really scared!" BIG DIFFERENCE! The trick here again is knowing when it is important to "elabor8", and when it might be more appropriate to say it in a word and move on to the next idea.
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