How Writers Work

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The Secret of Writing

Its misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using particular strategies that seem to work for them. These strategies are available to anyone who wants to be a writer

... Revealed!

There is no secret. But there is a process. If you like to write, there are definite steps you can take to help you reach your goals. Good writing isn't forged by magic or hatched out of thin air. Good writing happens when human beings follow particular steps to take control o their sentences-to make their words do what they want them to do.

This book will show you how writers work, how you can become a writer, and how you can find a process that works for you

Curriculet Details
25 Questions
15 Annotations
2 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for fifth grade students contains interactive videos exploring literary techniques as well as clips of famous children's authors speaking about their work and their lives. Students will learn how to become better writers by exploring topics such as brainstorming, revising, and publishing. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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The Secret of Writing

Pictured here are book spines. You can see titles and fragments of the authors' names, as well as some publishing information. Why do you think it is called a "spine?"  (This annotation contains an image)
Which word in the highlighted text is related to "magic?" 
What are you looking forward to learning as you read this book? Write two or three learning goals. 

One: A Place Where Words Can Grow

This author uses many metaphors and similes to convey his thinking. Watch the following video for a refresher on these literary devices.  (This annotation contains a video)
In this chapter, what do we learn about the importance of place for writing? 
How does the author use the metaphor of a garden in the highlighted text? Do you have a favorite place where you like to write? 

Two: Finding an Idea

Drew Lamm is a popular author of children's books. You can enjoy an excerpt from an interview with her by following the link.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is your place in your family? List one way that your place affects you positively and one aspect that you wish you could change. 
What are some categories that can give us ideas for writing topics? 

Three: Brainstorming

Do you think the author literally means that you should enter a quiet room, or is he using figurative language? This video will help you decide.  (This annotation contains a video)
Do you find the metaphor of "drawers" to be helpful when thinking about your outline? Why or why not? 
Which of the following is not a brainstorming method suggested in this chapter? 

Four: A Salad of Ideas by Gordon Korman

Have you read this book? Below are a few images related to it.  (This annotation contains an image)
Gordon Korman uses parallel plots to tell this story. The video below provides more information about parallel plots.  (This annotation contains a video)
Read the highlighted text; what does "transmogrifies" mean? 
Do you have any ideas of two or more parallel plots that you would like to mix together? Make a list or web of what you would like to put into your story "salad." 

Five: Breaking the Ice: Getting Started

Lao Tsu was a poet and philosopher in ancient China. He is respected as the founder of Taoism. (This annotation contains an image)
Author Ben Mikaelsen uses ____________ to make his point about writing a rough draft. 

Six: Going with the Flow

Renowned for his short stories as well as his novels, Bernard Malamud was a Jewish American writer in the twentieth century.  (This annotation contains an image)
There are several pieces of advice and tips on this page. Which two would you like to try the next time you write? 
Quiz 1: Preface - Chapter 6 
Which statement best summarizes the main idea of this chapter? 

Seven: Interview with Drew Lamm

Here is a cover for one of the many books by Drew Lamm.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is Ms. Lamm's favorite part of the writing process? 

Eight: Rereading

Shelby Foote was a famous American historian who focused on the Civil War in his history books and novels. According to Wikipedia, he did all of his writing by hand.  (This annotation contains an image)
The author offers three questions to ask yourself when rereading a paragraph you have written. Restate these in your own words. 
Which is not a suggested tip for writers working on a computer? 

Nine: Revision: Radical Surgery

Watch this video to learn more about author Ben Mikaelsen. What do you think of his views on being a genius? On having problems?  (This annotation contains a video)
As you think about revising your own writing, does the metaphor of a raspberry patch work for you? Can you think of another metaphor to describe your process? 
Which literary technique does the author use in the highlighted paragraph? 

Ten: Interview with Ben Mikaelsen

Here is a picture of Ben Mikaelsen and a couple of book jackets.  (This annotation contains an image)
What can we infer from what Mr. Mikaelsen has said so far? 

Eleven: Proofreading

We should proofread in order to 
If you want to try this suggestion of using colors for your proofreading, feel free to try whatever colors work for you. Just be consistent! Below is an image with symbols used by a more mature, more experienced proofreader.  (This annotation contains an image)
Who has been a good editor for you in the past? Whom can you ask for your next piece of writing? Make a list of 3 potential editors, and jot down how you would like for each to help you. 

Twelve: Publishing: Going Public

In the highlighted sentence,  what does "intoxicating" mean? 
Find out if your school or public library has some of these magazines.  (This annotation contains an image)
Are you ready to share some of your work with others? Think of a piece that you have finished, and choose someone to share it with. Why are you choosing this particular person? 

Thirteen: Writer’s Block and Other Monsters

Is "monster" a good metaphor for writer's block? Why or why not? 
Why do many young writers get stuck? 
Do any of the proposed solutions work for you when you are feeling blocked? Is there something else you have tried? 

Last Thoughts

Quiz 2: Chapter 7 - Last Thoughts