Slice of Life Story Challenge March 22 -Improving My Vision As A Writer

Fridays are my planning days when I get an opportunity to delve more deeply into my passion for reading and writing. I linger a little with the siblings of the literacy family. I love this day. I crave it. It involves research and discovery. It involves planning and pondering. It is the day I attend to outstanding emails. I use it to tie up loose learning threads and provide some closure to the week’s work. But as the song goes- ‘Feel it all with a willing heart; every stop is a place to start…’ (La Vie Dansante, Jimmy Buffett)

And so Fridays often take me to new places and spaces in my learning journey. I submit willingly. it's a sweet surrender.

Today, I was exploring some new books purchased during the week. I was flitting between books as I often do, trying to ‘envision’ ( a word I learnt from Katie Wood Ray) potential curriculum. I was looking for writing that would require me to come to a screeching halt and consider ways to share such magical words with teachers, students -anyone who would listen.  Whenever I come across attention grabbing wonders I feel compelled to harvest them. It’s irresistible! I know when I am reading as a teacher of writing. Words, phrases, whole sentences, paragraphs beckon. The potential of the writer’s craft to leap from the page and slap me in the face is something I embrace. Wake up, pay attention the words scream.  It all matters, whether it’s a character description, the vivid depiction of a setting or the way the writer challenges me to think about an issue or event – it excites and informs.

The point of the quest is to find interesting things that can be shared with other writers. It is oxygen to the teacher of writing.

Today while reading ‘Once Upon A Slime, -45 fun ways to get writing fast, written by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, Pan Publishers, 2013 I found some sound advice to share with inexperienced writers:

‘Sometimes the easiest way to start writing is not to try to ‘think something up’ but simply to ‘write something down’ –and what better place to start than with what is right in front of your eyes?

Given, the status these hugely popular writers have with young writers, this advice carries much weight and it deserves to be shared. Many inexperienced writers discount what is In front of them and to become a more powerful writer, one has to develop a strong sense of observation. I will write this extract into my notebook and share it willingly.

As I scanned the early pages of Roddy Doyle’s ‘A Greyhound of a Girl, Marion Lloyd Books, 2011, my eye was drawn to the prologue;

‘She hated the hospital. She hated walking through it. She hated everything about it. Except for one thing. Her Granny. She hated the hospital but she loved her granny.

 I found myself struck by the author’s effective use of repetition. The use of short punchy sentences and the deliberate contrast of the character’s emotions also caught my eye. I liked the fact that the writer allows the reader to think and infer in relation to the grandmother’s situation as a patient. In 5 short sentences we learn much about Mary. I will use this extract to show young writers another way to write about characters. The shape of these words is something I can draw to their attention. I can encourage them to try and write in the style of Roddy Doyle. These are words I wish I had written. I will convey this message as well.

‘All texts are demonstrations of some writer’s decisions about word choice, voice, perspective. All texts are demonstrations of some genre potential…Every single text is a whole chunk of curriculum potential.’
Katie Wood Ray

I love my Fridays…




  1. Thank you for sharing your discoveries on this Friday. Now I have harvested some wonders from your post. You always use the best words.

  2. Thanks for sharing - I"m always on the lookout for new books and new writing gems to share with students. You inspired me to try to use my powers of observation more and not just 'think of what to write'. Thank you!

  3. Your slice has energy and love of teaching and writing. I am happy that you have Fridays like this and you gladly share your discoveries with others.

  4. Don't you just love Katie Wood Ray? I have had the pleasure of attending her workshops several times over the last 15 years or so. I heard she is either retiring or semi-retiring. Thank goodness for her books that have and will continue to withstand the test of time. They are critical in sustaining those of us who love "wondrous words."

  5. I love this post. These are some great ideas to share with your writers. I will be looking for Once Upon a Slime to share with my students. I love these days of discovering as well. Thank you for sharing with us.

  6. Alan, I am a new blogger and this has quickly become one of my favorite blogs. Your command of language and ability to respond with precise elegance is inspiring.


Post a Comment

Popular With Other Visitors

Book Making With Our Youngest Writers

Helping Young Writers Understand The Significance of Details

Learning How to 'Zoom In' When Writing

I'm Not Persuaded About Persuasive Writing Approaches

Writing About Reading - Reading Reflection Journals: