I began quizzing the class about what makes a good story and what their first step should be. I expected them to say to shout out a number of possible responses. My plan was to introduce the holy trinity of writing: character, plot and setting.
But I didn't expect what I got.
First, one young boy said, "You start with a Bold Beginning."
"What does that mean," I asked after a pause.
"It means you need to have something interesting enough to hook your reader's attention," he answered.
"Then you need a Mighty Middle," added another kid. "And an Excellent Ending."
A third suggested, "You need to show conflict and then resolve it at the end."
This blew me away for young writers to have such an awareness. I know for a fact that this was not part of the curriculum when I was a kid. There was much more emphasis on penmanship than on the elements of storytelling in writing.
I had a wonderful time with these kids, but walked out of the room shocked. I wondering if these kids are so sophisticated as writers, imagine how discerning they must be as readers. This was a challenge to me and to every writer, parent and educator putting books into these children's hands. We need to validate and checkmark every:
- Bold Beginning that hooks a young reader
- Mighty Middle that transports them to new worlds
- and Excellent Ending that encourages them to pick up the next book.
We need to up our game.