Tips for Young Authors

What Makes a Good Story?
By Aaron Shepard


Good writers often break rules – but they know they’re doing it!

Here are some good rules to know.

Theme

A theme is something important the story tries to tell us—something that might help us in our own lives. Not every story has a theme, but it’s best if it does.

Don’t get too preachy. Let the theme grow out of the story, so readers feel they’ve learned it for themselves. You shouldn’t have to say what the moral is.

Plot

Plot is most often about a conflict or struggle that the main character goes through. The conflict can be with another character, or with the way things are, or with something inside the character, like needs or feelings.

The main character should win or lose at least partly on their own, and not just be rescued by someone or something else. Most often, the character learns or grows as they try to solve their problem. What the character learns is the theme.

The conflict should get more and more tense or exciting. The tension should reach a high point or “climax” near the end of the story, then ease off.

The basic steps of a plot are: conflict begins, things go right, things go WRONG, final victory (or defeat), and wrap-up. The right-wrong steps can repeat.

A novel can have several conflicts, but a short story should have only one.
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Encourage young readers

Hide Love Notes Between the Pages

Try giving these encouraging messages and little rewards for reading.
on March 27, 2014

One thing I do not want to turn into a fight is reading. I do not want to make it a chore — we have enough of those in our house that don’t get done without a struggle. I want to keep reading fun. These little notes aren’t just to reward with things — they give parents a chance to encourage their readers even if they are not in the room, or school bus, or at school. They are like lunch box notes in a book.

You will need some post it notes ( I love these heart ones), a pen, and a book or two.

Take your child’s book that he or she is reading, and divide it up into reading sections. It could be by chapter sections, a handful of pages, or even a few paragraphs each. This will depend on your child’s reading abilities and how far you want to challenge him/her. Here are some ideas for the notes. Use the encouraging words that your child will respond to and rewards that fit your child’s personality and your parenting comfort zone.

“You are a reading superstar!”
“Did you read all this by yourself? Amazing!”
“You just earned a later bedtime!”
“You are one smart cookie!”
“Readers are leaders! ”
“Did you like this book? Let’s talk about it over hot chocolate!”
“Books are cool!”
“Trade this note in for a treat!”
“Let’s go for a walk and chat about this book.”
“Reading rocks, and so do you!”
“You did it! I knew you would. Trade in this book for a trip to the bookstore where you can choose a brand new book!”

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