DYNAMIC WRITING 1 - The First Fifteen Lessons
Copyright 2015 Tyrean Martinson
with Wings of Light Publishing
Gig Harbor, Washington
all rights reserved
This book is dedicated to all students of writing and to my Savior.
CHAPTER 1 JOURNAL WRITING
Many types of journals exist for writers. Some writers use journals to store ideas for future writing projects, some write lists, some write poetry, some store quotes or snippets of overheard conversation in their journals, some write off-the-cuff thoughts, and some use them as a place to doodle and play with words. Journal writing will be a place for informal writing that encompasses all of these areas. Students will be invited to write to prompts on certain days, and they will be invited to free-write their own thoughts on other days. Some journal days will be timed, and some will not be timed. Journals are a place to explore, create, play, and dance with language.
LESSON 1 JOURNAL EXPECTATIONS, SET-UP, GRADING, AND FIRST ASSIGNMENT
A journal entry is not graded for spelling, grammar, or style conventions. The journal is a place for each writer to relax, gather ideas, and grow used to the flow of daily writing habits. For ease of grading, each journal entry should include a date and topic name on the top of the page. Students will be expected to fill a page for each entry, even if filling it means quoting song lyrics or writing “I don’t know what to write now” over and over again.
Set aside the first two pages of the journal for a table of contents. Number each of the pages in the journal. On the table of contents, keep a record of the name and date of each journal entry. This is the only area of the journal that may be graded for “neatness.”
Each journal entry is worth ten points per full page. A properly set-up table of contents is also worth ten points each quarter. Points are awarded for “completion” and not for spelling, grammar, or conventions.
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: WRITING IS . . .
For a prompt like this one, start with the words provided and add your own words. Keep writing. Let each sentence build on the one before it. Or, if you come to a place where you feel stuck, change paragraphs and change up the idea. Add quotes you like about writing, if you know any. Make up something that you think would be a good writing quote. Write about what writing feels to you, or write about your experiences with writing. Keep writing for one full page. When finished with one full page of writing, stop, put the date and a title at the top, and make an entry in your table of contents.
LESSON 2 LISTS AS JOURNAL ENTRIES
Today, you’ll create a journal entry made entirely of lists. Create lists of your favorite books, magazines, newspapers, short stories, or poems. To fill the page, make sure that you have at least four or five words per line. This may require double or triple columns. Keep writing. If lists of favorites won’t fill the page, try lists of least favorites or lists of required books.
Remember, when finished with your journal entry, put the date and the name of the entry at the top of the page and create place for it on your table of contents.
LESSON 3 DOODLE AND WRITE JOURNAL ENTRIES
Warning: unless doodling is assigned for a journal entry, please limit your doodles to “extra” pages or only one quarter of the page. Most journal entries require at least three-quarters to a full page of writing for full points.
The assignment for today: Write the title, “My Amusement Park,” on the top line. Add the date to the top line, and add this entry to your table of contents. Imagine an amusement park that you would enjoy. Be as creative or realistic as you would like to be. The park could be made of chocolate, based on a different planet, or it could be a horseback riding or roller coaster themed park. Then, after you’ve pictured this park in your mind, draw/doodle a design or park map on half of the page. On the other half of your page, write a description of this amusement park.
LESSON 4 CREATIVE PROMPTS
Today’s prompt is a creative prompt. You’ll find a short phrase and you have to use that phrase somewhere in your journal entry. The journal entry can be a super short story, a poem, a reflection, a list, a “draw and write” or a freewrite of whatever comes to mind. The goal: one full page of writing, or a three-quarter page of writing with a quarter page of drawing. Remember, to name, date, and enter this prompt into your table of contents.
The creative prompt: As the sun dipped low on the horizon . . .
LESSON 5 TIMED PROMPTS
For timed writing prompts, you need to set a timer for the time given and then write as fast as you can for the time set. Please make sure that you note that this is a “timed” prompt in your table of contents and on the heading of the journal entry so that your teacher/parent can grade this for full points. Take a look at the prompts first and then when you start the timer, write as much as you can as fast as you can. Don’t stare into space, just write. Think of this as a physical training exercise like a sprint foot-race, or a sprint swim. You’re training your writing muscles to just let loose at top speed. This is a useful skill for the future, when you will need to write timed essays. For now, this is about getting practice with speedy writing.
Your time: Ten Minutes.
Your Prompt: What is the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?
FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS
Remember, journal writing is informal writing. It helps writers get comfortable with getting their thoughts on the page. It isn’t a place to stress over grammar or spelling. It’s a place to play with words, be creative, try out new skills, and get ideas out in a jumble.
TO GRADE A JOURNAL
Give ten points for a neat table of contents at the quarter, semester, and end of year.
Award ten points for each full page with a heading and date.
Award only five points for a half page of writing.
Award ten points for a three-quarter page with a one-quarter page of drawing.
If it’s noted as a “timed” prompt, award full points, even if it isn’t a full page.
Do not circle spelling words or grammar mistakes.
Highly Recommended: Keep a journal and set an example for your student(s).
CHAPTER 2 FORMAL WRITING EXPECTATIONS AND THE FIRST FORMAL ASSIGNMENT: SUMMARIES
If journal writing is considered free, informal and creative, formal writing is the opposite in all ways except one: formal writing can be creative. However, it must be creative within specific guidelines.
Formal writing is expected to be clean and neat, follow conventional spelling and grammar rules, and fit the writing assignment and expectations of a teacher or publisher. Some writers view essay writing as the only formal style of writing but I believe that any writing that is submitted for an assignment or for publication is formal writing. In this sense, formal writing is any writing that has been polished to represent the best work of a writer.
The study of formal writing includes learning writing concepts that will help a writer build up a set of objective and measurable skills. Writing, like any art, can be highly subjective. However, there are skills involved with polished, formal writing that can be measured in an objective way. The hardest skill to teach is voice. A writer’s voice often develops with a combination of creative, free writing and structured, formal writing. The combination of working without guidelines and working within guidelines often helps writers come to understand their own writing process more innately and discover the unique voice God has given them.
LESSON 6 ASSIGNMENTS: JOURNAL, VIBRANT WRITING CONCEPT, AND STUDY OF FORMAT GUIDELINES
JOURNAL ENTRY: CREATIVE PROMPT
Title your journal entry “Voice,” write a date at the top, and enter this information onto the table of contents. Now, write a full page about the word “voice.” This can be a reflection, a definition, a poem, or a story.
VIBRANT WRITING CONCEPT
Vibrant writing leaps off the page with color and movement. This is accomplished with specific words, sensory description, sentence variations, rhythm, and imagery. We’ll work on this concept through most of our book with various, specific writing concepts. First, we’ll start with concrete words.
Concrete words are not made out of concrete from a sand and gravel company; concrete words are specific words that add vibrancy to a piece of writing.
For Example: Tabitha felt cold.
This sentence is fairly general.
A more specific sentence with concrete words would be like this:
Tabitha shivered in the night air.
VIBRANT WRITING PRACTICE #1
Pick out the most vibrant sentence out of each pair of sentences below:
1. First pair:
a. The box sat in the room.
b. The brown cardboard box sat in the living room.
2. Second Pair:
a. Warty and slimy, the toad stayed in the shallows of the pond.
b. The toad sat in the water.
3. Third Pair:
a. The fish swam.
b. The rainbow fish swam lazily by the coral.
4. Fourth Pair:
a. Tony ate dinner.
b. Eagerly, Tony bit into the warm, cheesy pizza.
5. Fifth pair:
a. Jessica stood up.
b. Excited and prepared, Jessica stood up to give her speech.
PROPER PAGE FORMAT
Every writing teacher and every publisher has a preferred writing format. There are books dedicated to teaching writing format. I suggest that students find the buttons for left, right and centered text on their word program as well as the spacing buttons, and know how to use several different types of text justification within an essay. For the purposes of learning the current, most-used format in classrooms and universities today, we will use the MLA format or a block style format. Please see the sample of proper page format as follows.
Mrs. Tyrean Martinson
Dynamic Incremental Writing 1
September 10th, 2013
Correct Page Format
Please use the correct page format. Please note that I have made minor changes to this page format from the paperback to the e-book text because e-book texts are difficult to format in the usual MLA format. So, since I can’t demonstrate a centered title, and an indented first line, I am showcasing a block style format. Write your name, the class name, the draft name, and the date in a column on the left side of the paper above your title. Add an extra space,, then write your title. Add another space and then start your first paragraph. If you are typing, please use only a single space between sentences. Also, please use a standard sized font and style such as font size 12 in Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman. Normally, I would ask for double-spaced lines, but again e-book formatting is difficult in this regard, so in block style formatting, please leave it in single space between lines but add an extra space between paragraphs. This is a standard format we will be using for the entire year for formal essays. All second and final drafts should be neatly handwritten or typed.
LESSON 7 SUMMARY WRITING, SUMMARY EXAMPLE, AND SUMMARY BRAINSTORMING
A summary is a concise but comprehensive account of a longer work. Concise means that it’s short but meaningful. Summary writing is challenging because it involves taking a large amount of information and putting it into an orderly, short format.
However, we summarize our experiences all the time in conversations with our friends and family. If you’ve ever related a vacation experience to a friend in a short conversation, you’ve summarized it. If you’ve seen a movie and then told your sibling what happened in the movie, you’ve summarized it. Summarizing is a skill we learn to communicate our life experiences in a way that works in every day conversations. Summary writing is an extension of that.
For this lesson, we will be summarizing a book of fiction that you’ve already read. Hopefully, you have a favorite book, or one that you are familiar with, to use for this assignment. If necessary, use the last book you’ve read. Our assignment will be to summarize that book in five sentences, but we’ll walk through the steps of summary writing as we go. First, read the example on the next page, and then work through the brainstorming exercise.
Dynamic Incremental Writing 1
Book Summary Example
Prophecy Fulfilled: A Summary of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
In The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, the Pevensie children find themselves transported to the magical land of Narnia where they are expected to fulfill a prophecy. When the Pevensies stumble into Narnia through an old wardrobe, talking beavers tell them that they are expected to fulfill an ancient prophecy that will end the reign of an evil queen and bring back Aslan, the rightful ruler of Narnia. The Pevensies go on a journey with the beavers to meet Aslan. They fight in a battle against the evil Queen Jadis and free Narnia from her icy enchantment. After they have fulfilled the prophecy, the Pevensie children are crowned Kings and Queens of Narnia before returning to the normal world.
BREAKING DOWN THE SUMMARY
1. Where is the name of the book and the name of the author introduced?
2. Where is the focus of this short paragraph summary introduced?
3. What details from the book are highlighted?
4. Does the ending sentence conclude the summary and the focus of the paragraph?
Bonus: If you’ve read the book, do you know if all the details from the book are included in this summary?
When a writer gets an idea, sometimes that writer just starts writing right away full speed ahead. Other times, the writer has part of an idea, but needs to figure out the rest of it. Brainstorming helps writers get all the details out in short form before they start writing. There are different ways to brainstorm, and we’ll cover some of those in this book with different lessons.
On a blank piece of paper, write “Summary Brainstorming Assignment,” today’s date, and the title and the author of the book you’ve chosen for this assignment.
Choose the book you will use and write the title, the author’s name, and the publisher’s name on the top of the paper. (The publisher’s name can be found on the back of the title page of the book.)
Write a list entitled: The Most Important Parts of this Book. Fill in as many lines as you can.
Write another list entitled: The Main Characters in this Book.
Write another list entitled: What the Main Characters Learn in this Book.
Write another list entitled: What I Like Best about This Book.
NOTE FOR TEACHERS/PARENTS:
This assignment is worth ten points.
LESSON 8 FOCUS POINT, OUTLINES, SUMMARY OUTLINE, AND VIBRANT WRITING PRACTICE
FOCUS POINT = THESIS
The focus point in formal writing is often called the topic or thesis of a piece of writing. When writing a summary of a larger work, it’s important to find a focus point. You may have a four-hundred page book that you need to summarize in five sentences. If that’s the case, you can’t include all the details. You have to choose which details to focus on, and a focus point or thesis will help you.
Look back through your brainstorming lists, and see if you can find a pattern or an area that seems strongest in the “Most Important Events of This Book” list. Do you see a group of events that fit together for the whole book, or a big idea that seems to encompass a bunch of the events? When you find a focal point or thesis that holds it all together, you’re ready to start your outline.
Outlines help writers organize their thoughts before starting to write. Sometimes, outlines just look like grocery lists, maps, bubbles, or a formal structure. In this book, we’ll try different outlines for different projects.
First, write the title “Summary Outline” and the date at the top of your paper.
Next, follow this structure for your outline:
I. Focus point.
1. First event that fits under the focus point:
2. Second event that fits under the focus point:
3. Third event that fits under the focus point:
4. Final conclusion about the focus point – this may include a final event:
Example outline for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe summary:
I. Focus point: Fulfilling the prophecy.
1. First: Stumble into Narnia and meet the beavers
2. Second: Journey to meet Aslan
3. Third: Battle with white witch
4. Final: Fulfilled prophecy, and crowned as Kings and Queens.
NOTE FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS:
This assignment is worth ten points.
VIBRANT WRITING PRACTICE #2
Rewrite the following statements on your own paper and then re-write them with a vibrant writing approach. Label this exercise “Vibrant Writing Practice #2.”
1. The cat mewed.
2. The dog barked.
3. Jason played.
4. Amanda walked.
5. The fish swam.
LESSON 9 MUTLIPLE DRAFTS AND ROUGH DRAFT ASSIGNMENT
Isn’t one draft good enough? In short, the answer is no. Usually, the first draft of any writing project is rough, hence the term: rough draft.
Most professional writers write multiple drafts before they are satisfied with their work. When a reader picks up a novel at a store, or downloads a novel for an e-reader, that reader is picking up a second or third or even seventh draft of a writer’s work. Even newspaper and magazine stories are reviewed and revised several times.
For the purposes of this course, students will only write single drafts in their informal journals. For all formal writing projects, two to three drafts will be required.
ROUGH DRAFT ASSIGNMENT:
You’ve brainstormed, outlined, and now it’s time for the rough draft. Don’t expect beautiful prose and wisdom with a rough draft, just get the main ideas down on the paper.
Try to do these things in your summary rough draft:
1. Use the proper page format guidelines.
2. Start with the title of the book and the author’s name in the first sentence that states your focus point.
3. Fill in the details in order.
4. Write a concluding sentence that refers back to the focus point.
5. Set it aside until tomorrow. It’s really better to let a rough draft rest for a day.
NOTE FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS:
The rough assignment is worth ten points for completion. This is separate from the polished final grade.
LESSON 10 CHECKLISTS, SUMMARY CHECKLISTS FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS, AND JOURNAL
Checklists help writers check and improve their work from one draft to the next. Professional writers use checklists to help them remember to check their grammar, their spelling, their level of description in a piece of writing, or how much dialogue and action they used in a chapter of a story. In our class, students and teachers will have writing checklists for each formal project.
Using what you’ve learned from the checklist, write your second draft on a clean sheet of paper or type it up on your computer and save it. Use the correct page format. Check it twice. Put together all of your prewriting (brainstorming and outline), your rough draft, the checklist, and the second draft, and staple them. Hand this package to your teacher.
What did I like best about this essay?
Assignment objectives checklist:
1. Did I put my name and the date in the upper left hand corner?
2. Did I use a title?
3. Did I have a focus point/thesis in my first sentence?
4. Did I use the title of the book and the author name in the first sentence?
5. Book titles need to be underlined when hand-written or italicized when typed. Did I underline or italicize my title?
6. Did I include three details that supported my focus point?
7. Did I put those three details in order?
8. Did I have a final, conclusion sentence?
9. Did my conclusion sentence restate my focus point?
10. Did I leave margins on the paper?
11. Are there any words that I’m unsure of for spelling? If there are, please circle them and look them up in a dictionary.
12. Are there any sentences that I’m unsure about with grammar? If so, underline them and get help from a teacher or parent.
Is there an area that I need help with or would like to improve on in this essay?
NOTE FOR PARENTS/TEACHERS:
This checklist is worth ten points for completion.
While your teacher/parent checks your work with their own checklist, please write a full page to the following creative journal prompt: at the edge of the ocean. You can use this phrase in a story, a poem, a reflection, or a list. Remember to write the date and the title at the top of your journal page and on the table of contents.
TEACHER CHECKLIST AND NOTE ON CHECKLISTS
The best part of this essay is:
Did the student:
1. Name and date the essay in the upper left hand corner?
2. Use a title?
3. Have a focus point in the first sentence?
4. Use the title of the book and the author name in the first sentence?
5. Underline or italicize the title?
6. Include three details that supported the focus point?
7. Are the three details in order?
8. Have a final, conclusion sentence?
9. Restate the focus point in the final sentence?
10. Skip lines?
11. Leave margins on the paper?
12. Have spelling errors?
13. Have grammar errors?
14. Use the checklist and make corrections as needed?
Suggestions for areas that need work:
Another area of this essay I enjoyed:
NOTE FOR TEACHERS/PARENTS: Please emphasize at least two positive parts of each piece of writing. A page full of red ink and corrections can feel daunting, especially when a student has worked hard on an assignment. Praise for specific, positive writing traits can help the learning process.
LESSON 11 ACCEPTING FEEDBACK, PEER FEEDBACK, SUBJECT-PREDICATE SENTENCES AND QUOTE JOURNAL ENTRY
Today, the teacher will hand back your “Writing in Progress” with a teacher feedback checklist. Sometimes writers have a tough time accepting feedback. The feedback isn’t about judging a writer’s work but about helping that writer improve his/her work. Accept feedback graciously. Look at the specific notes your teacher writes for you and learn from them. When you receive the feedback checklist, read through it and then let it rest for a moment. Ask questions, if needed.
In class or at home, find a peer feedback partner. Read each other’s work silently, and then fill in the following sentences:
1. The part of this essay I liked best is . . .
2. One area that I thought you could change to make better is . . .
3. Another thing I liked about this essay is . . .
Remember, use kind, encouraging words when speaking to another writer.
Sentence variations liven up writing and make it more vibrant. The most used and most basic form of sentence is the subject-predicate sentence, sometimes referred to as the subject-verb sentence. A subject is the noun or noun phrase that acts on the verb or verb phrase in the sentence. The predicate is the verb or verb phrase in the sentence. Sounds complicated, but it’s the kind of sentence we use every day and all the time.
Example #1: Sami jumped.
In this example, Sami is the subject (subject noun) and jumped is the predicate (verb).
Example #2: Greg’s orange tabby cat, Sami, jumped wildly onto the porch when a dog barked.
In this example, the sentence looks more complicated, but it still follows the basic subject-predicate structure. Greg’s orange tabby cat, Sami is the subject (subject noun phrase) while jumped wildly onto the porch when a dog barked is the predicate (verb phrase).
SUBJECT-PREDICATE PRACTICE #1
On your own paper, rewrite these sentences. Underline the subject once, and underline the predicate twice.
1. Jill laughed.
2. Jill laughed loudly at her friend’s joke.
3. The boy smiled.
4. The boy named Brendan smiled.
5. The boy named Brendan smiled happily.
6. The dog barked.
7. The short, little dog barked loudly at the other dogs.
8. Friday is my favorite day.
9. Dane hugged his mom.
10. Teresa waved to her dad.
QUOTE JOURNAL ENTRY ASSIGNMENT
If you can, find a quote that you like from the book you summarized. Or, if you have a favorite quote that you can mostly remember, use that one. In either case, write the quote at the top of one of your journal pages. Then, write a full page entry about that quote and what it means to you, or write a full page entry that is a story or poem based on that quote.
LESSON 12 POLISHED DRAFTS, WRITING THE POLISHED SUMMARY, AND NOTE TO TEACHERS/PARENTS WITH SUMMARY GRADE SHEET
A polished draft is the final draft of a piece of writing; it’s a draft that’s ready to be shown to the world, submitted to a magazine editor, or submitted to your teacher for an actual grade. All the other drafts up to this point are worth points, but the final draft is worth the most points.
For this class, when you finish a polished draft, you need to staple it on top of the pile of other drafts and checklists you already have. It goes in the following order from top to bottom: polished draft, teacher checklist, second draft, student checklist, rough draft, outline, and brainstorming. The teacher will fill out a grade sheet and staple that on top of the final draft. There are points awarded for turning in all the drafts together, so don’t skip this step.
WRITING THE POLISHED SUMMARY
Using all the checklists, the correct page format, and teacher feedback, write your final draft. Use your best handwriting or typing skills. Check your work for spelling, grammar, and typos one last time. Read it out loud to make sure that you’ve used the words you want to use because spellcheck doesn’t know that “they” shouldn’t be used when you meant to use “then.” When you are finished, please staple this copy on top of all the other drafts and checklists. You are ready to hand this in for evaluation and a final grade on this assignment.
NOTE FOR TEACHERS/PARENTS
Try for objectivity when grading. Use the grade sheet to measure objective writing skills. Look to see if the student changed their work from rough draft to polished final; this helps to measure their learning curve over time. Although this assignment was fairly simple, the assignments will have harder and more specific requirements to meet as the course continues. As always, give praise for specific writing skills that the student did well.
SUMMARY GRADE SHEET
Had a focus point/thesis in the first sentence /5
Used the title of the book and the author name in the first sentence /5
Included three details that supported the focus point /10
The three details are in order /5
Final, conclusion sentence /5
Restated the focus point in the final sentence /5
STYLE AND USAGE:
Name and date in the upper left hand corner /2
Used a title, centered it, and underlined or italicized it /3
Indented the first sentence of the paragraph, skipped lines, and had margins /2
Draft Package included: rough, checklist, second, review, and final /2
Total Points /50
Percentage and Grade:
What I liked best about this essay:
LESSON 13 JOURNAL
BOOK LIST JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT
Remember to put the title of this journal entry and today’s date at the top of the journal page and in the table of contents. For today’s entry, make a series of lists about books. The titles of these lists could be: favorite books, books I’ve read this last year, books I’ve read in my lifetime, books I want to read, books I love, books I don’t like, books that have had an impact on me. You don’t have to use all these ideas for book lists, but please choose two or three of these ideas for this journal page.
LESSON 14 SUBJECT-PREDICATE PRACTICE #2 AND JOURNAL
SUBJECT-PREDICATE PRACTICE #2
Part 1: Rewrite the following sentence and underline the subject once and then underline the predicate twice. (Look back to Day 11 for help with this exercise.)
My friend Gigi went to the Girl Scout meeting with me.
Part 2: Write four of your own sentences that use the subject-predicate structure.
DRAW AND WRITE A BOOK SCENE JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT
Remember to put the title of today’s entry and today’s date at the top of the journal page and in the table of contents. Also, please make sure to make a special note that this is a “drawing and writing” journal assignment; this ensures that your teacher knows to grade this with full points even though it has a half page of drawing on it. The assignment: imagine a scene from a book you’ve read and draw that scene on half the page. Then, describe the scene in your own words. Finally, at the end of the page, state the name of the book this scene comes from for your teacher’s benefit.
LESSON 15 VIBRANT WRITING PRACTICE #3 AND JOURNAL
VIBRANT WRITING PRACTICE #3
Specific nouns can help writers create vibrant scenes that grab a reader’s attention. The following exercise involves using your imagination or a thesaurus to come up with at least five specific nouns to replace each general noun. Some of these specific nouns may be proper nouns, and if they are, please use capital letters.
Here is an example:
General noun: car.
Specific nouns: mini-van, Lamborghini, Ford Mustang, VW Bug, BMW Mini-Cooper.
Please come up with at least five specific nouns for each of the following general nouns:
WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE? JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT
Remember to put the name and date of this journal entry at the top of the page and in the table of contents. “What’s the weather like?” may seem like a boring conversation starter, unless the state of the weather is going to change a person’s plans for the day. A skier may not want to ski in side-ways winds, and a farmer will want to know if his crops are going to be flattened by hail. A pilot will need to know the conditions before take-off, and a cross country runner will need to wear the right clothes in the rain.
So, it’s good to be able to describe the weather and think about how it affects us. So, what’s the weather like today? Is it going to affect what you do? Write about it for a full page. This can be in poem, story, or reflection format.
End of The First Fifteen Lessons
As Dynamic Writing 1 progresses, the lessons get progressively harder and students will write three to five paragraph essays, learn various sentence variations and writing concepts, and increase their daily writing time.