Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Stab at Writing for Kids

Below is the beginning of my almost attempt at writing for the 8-12 crowd. Too bad I don't remember where I was headed with this, because I think it's a good beginning. *shrug* Every single thing we write is a learning experience. Good thing I learned to put more of a plot down for the stories I start.

Summer Vacation Story
Julia couldn’t believe her ears. Her whole summer vacation was ruined! The entire class went from raucous enthusiasm over the last day of school to stunned silence. Mrs. Fitzhugh was still talking but few of the students were actually listening.

“… due the first day of school next year. Since I’ve been reassigned to teach sixth grade, it will be no problem to pick up where we’ve left off. Provided, of course, that you keep your minds sharp during summer break. That is the point of the assignment I’ve decided to give you for summer homework – keeping your minds active while you’re out of school.”

“Active?!” Julia thought, “My mind is active during the summer. I have a whole list of things I was going to do this summer. Homework was NOT one of those things.”

Mrs. Fitzhugh started passing out piles of paperwork. Each of her fifth grade students grudgingly took one from the top and passed the rest back to the unhappy individual behind him. As she was handing out papers, she continued, “Now I’m sure you all have plans for the summer,” almost reading Julia’s mind, “so this is going to incorporate your summer plans with your summer homework.”

Julia looked down at the sheet in her hands. The words were all a blur swimming in her thoughts of the beach and the park and the library. “Ahhh, the library,” Julia sighed under her breath, “Maybe the assignment has something to do with researching things in the library. I hope it’s not one of those lame ‘How I spent my summer vacation’ sort of things.” Julia focused her eyes and read, “How I spent my summer vacation” in big, bold, underlined letters at the top of the assignment. Groaning, she laid her head on her arms in defeat. The teacher was still talking but Julia no longer cared to listen. Minutes later she was roused by the sounds of her classmates pushing their chairs into place and gathering up their belongings. The last day of school was over.

Julia sullenly followed her classmates out of the school and toward the buses. Everyone was abuzz with excitement, but Julia was too lost in thought to even notice. She was sorely disappointed in her teacher. All year long she had given such interesting and thoughtful assignments. This was totally uncalled for. Every year some teacher or other had given Julia the exact same assignment and it had the exact same results – utter boredom. Julia thought Mrs. Fitzhugh was different.

Amy, Julia’s best friend rushed over and tapped her on the shoulder. “Ohmagawd, this is so exciting!” She gushed. Amy had a way of gushing when she was excited, but Julia didn’t mind because most of the time Amy was pretty sedate and thoughtful. “Can you believe that we get this to do all summer? I’m so glad we’re getting Fitz again.” All the children referred to their teacher as Fitz in conversation – it was shorter and Mrs. Fitzhugh didn’t mind as long as they addressed her properly at any other time.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Julia. “I can’t believe that we have homework to do this summer. Well, I’m telling you, I’m going to whip out something quick and get it over with so that I can enjoy my break.” Pulling her backpack farther up on her shoulder, Julia started to walk for home. “I’ll catch you later. I’m going to get started on this thing right away.”

Amy stood watching in disbelief. This wasn’t like Julia. Usually things like this got Julia more excited than even Amy could manage. Maybe Julia was having an off day or maybe she was grumpy because Amy would be leaving that night to spend the summer at her aunt’s house in the country. “Oh well,” thought Amy, “I’ll write her a letter once I get unpacked and maybe she’ll let me know what’s wrong when she writes back.”

Of course, Julia had forgotten that Amy was going away for the summer. Julia’s mind was on other things and she was feeling quite sorry for herself by the time she arrived home. She could hear whistling in the kitchen which told her that her father was home, but Julia didn’t feel like conversation so she tromped right upstairs and flopped herself down on the bed. Her mind was racing with thoughts of her summer plans and with how she was going to word her 3 or 4 paragraph essay summarizing those plans. She could do the essay now and then she would just do what her essay said she had done. A little backward, true, but the best plan that Julia could come up with. Julia was an excellent writer and it would take her no time at all to make up details of she was going to do. All that it took was putting it into past tense. Since it was what she was going to do anyway, it wasn’t really a fib.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed that. I have no idea whether it's suitable for that age range, but I would have read it then.