The Truth About How to Stop Students from Rushing through Writing

I recently talked about how mentor sentences do something *magical* for my students and their writing.  You can read about that here.

As they spend time creating a great "hook" to keep readers reading though, they have a tendency to jump from the hook to the climax of the story.

In one paragraph.

Maybe two, if you make them add some details.

That's pretty typical for young writers, and probably most of us, too.  So, how do we get them to slow it down and comprehend that that doesn't ruin their story?

By breaking it down in smaller steps.  Start with the Exposition, the introduction of characters, setting, and time period.  Show them that in

  • Where the Red Fern Grows, it takes 9 pages
  • Front Desk, it takes 11 pages.
  • The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had? 6 pages
  • Walk Two Moons? 9 pages
You can pick any books your students like reading and find the same thing.

Focus first on the setting.

Have students stop for a moment and imagine where their main character is.  You can even have them close their eyes.
  • What do they see?
  • What sounds do they hear?
  • Who else is there?
  • What does it look like?
  • If they're writing science fiction or historical fiction, make sure the clothing, the tools, the food, and the language all fit the time period
  • What do they smell?  Even fresh air can be described.
  • What might they touch?
If they can begin to answer those questions, they'll start writing in more depth and you'll see the pace of their story start to slow down a little.

Want this graphic organizer?  Click here for the Googledoc.

Prefer to start with an already scaffolded writing story with guiding questions throughout?  Click here for an adventure (that can be perfect for Halloween) or here for historical fiction with a Native American protagonist.

In my next blog post, I'll discuss the ways to flesh out characters so that they become believable.

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