{charmed earth}

The Lifestyle blog of Katie Storms.: something simple, something sweet, something styled.

05 August 2011

{something story time}: tips for writers

I am a teacher. By day, every day, mid-August to early-June, that's what I do. One of my favorite parts about teaching is turning teenagers into poets and storytellers. My hope during the school year: post a weekly writing prompt for you, dear readers.

If you take the prompt to publishing status on your blogs, let me know in the comments section. For now, I thought I'd share some of my favorite resources for writers and teachers to get started. But don't forget: the best way to be a writer is to read more great books. My current read: Winter's Bone.

The Storymatic. I finally purchased this baby. It's a bit pricey, but it's perfect for getting started. You draw gold colored cards and rust colored cards to develop characters and conflict. And there are hundreds of cards in the box. Plus it comes with a booklet of instructions for ways to bring it into your writing studios and classrooms. I plan to have it out during weekly writer's workshop dates this year.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This title is almost older than I am, but I adore it. Each page is simple, concise, and perfect for any starting writer. It's got all the basics right at hand--even the small but very important parts like choosing your notebook and finding the places to write. On a side note, I bought my Playbook {writer's notebook} for this autumn: Glee. I always choose a very fun cover. That way I remember: oh, I wrote the poem about the blackbirds in the art room in the "Wonder Woman Notebook" or I think I wrote the poem about Chinese Take-Out in the "Collage Notebook from Claire." Pick a good notebook:) Then sit down for a few minutes every day with Natalie Goldberg.

The Writer's Toolbox. I have to admit that the only part of this kit I've used are the starter sticks. My students love them because they are able to have the start of the story. Then when they get stuck they just choose another stick, usually a non sequitur. This year, I hope to have the box out during writer's workshops again.

No Write! Fiction Essays... This collection of prompts and essays by various published writers is broken down by the elements of fiction. It's perfect for getting started with a story, but it's also perfect for developing your craft by element. You can focus on characterization for a day, and there is a whole section devoted to building characterization. It's fabulous. I especially love the section for dialogue since it's usually the part my students need the most help with when revising their short stories.

Writing Alone and With Others, Authors Peter Elbow and Pat Schneider. This baby is full of prompt after prompt after prompt. I can't get enough of it. Before I can even begin to think I will read the entire book, I realize I've found the perfect prompt. Once I started flagging my favorite prompts with post its. Then I realized nearly every page was full. So I stopped.

The Practice of Poetry, Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. I am a poet at heart. I wanted to add a few line breaks here for good measure {or meter} but I decided to keep these paragraphs in good flow. In this collection, some of the best teachers and poets share their best poetry writing prompts. Like Writing Alone and With Others, the prompts seem endless. It's a must for always keeping it fresh.

The practice of the Exquisite Corpse. Try this at least once in your life. It's fun, honest, and really does get the creative minds working. You'll need a group to work with, but I wonder if there's a way to get it going in a chain e-mail of sorts, keeping one person in the loop with all the lines...

For those of you off to school or simply off to stock up on very cute back-to-school pens and journals, here's to writing your story.

Ms. Scarlett.


  1. Are you on goodreads? I make it my goal to read 50 books per year, and track it on goodreads. Winter's Bone has been recommended to me so I'll have to check it out.

  2. I'm really excited for the weekly writing prompts! I love to write after I have the first 3 sentences down, but a lot of times I have trouble getting started