I developed a curriculum to teach them the nuts and bolts of writing a novel, from developing a subplot to placing significant objects in the setting, even giving their hero a tragic flaw. I introduced a lot of concepts and techniques which children wouldn't typically be exposed to, with the idea that learning the hows and whys of novel construction would make them better readers. Even if they weren't necessarily going to sit down and pen The Grapes of Wrath, they would approach their reading material with a new level of awareness.
The "club" was set up kind of like a mini-scouts, with badges to earn (conflict, villain, chapter list, etc.), a secret handshake, and an oath to begin the meetings. The students kept a notebook and filled it with their activities in class, the worksheets they did to earn badges, and their homework assignments.
We did eight weeks of progressive lessons, including a little bit of grammar and a lot of silliness and games. At the end of the session, they walked away with a detailed plan and chapter list, well prepared to launch their novel-writing. They also walked away with a new attention to the "behind the scenes" aspect of books they were reading, newly conscious of the decisions authors make and the reasons they make them. At the end of the course, they "graduated" and I authorized them all (in the silliest way possible) to go and be novelists.
Do you have questions about these lessons? Email me at lydianetzer at gmail dot com.
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