Tag Archives: writing process

the Tuffest Ride Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge

The TUFFest Ride Third Challenge

Week #3 of the TUFF challenge begins. Are you following along at home? Charli shares progress of the Fab Five’s writing and explains the process using examples by CalmKate.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) could be thought of as a tool. I think of it as a revision process, one that teaches writers through experiencing each task. The TUFFest Ride is a contest by which the Fab Flash Five — Ritu Bhathal, Bill Engleson, Kay Kingsley, Pete Fanning, and Liz Husebye Hartmann — are competing for first, second and third place rankings. They are the five winners selected from 118 entries submitted to five Free-Writes in September. We have other dedicated writers following along, playing from the “safety of home.”

It’s not that TUFF  endangers writers, but the writing process itself feels vulnerable. We can’t teach writing from that place of instinct and imagination without risking the emotion and doubt that lingers within each of us. Editing is crisp, it is clear and known. Editing is teachable, knowable, less risky. But TUFF asks us to shed the safety of…

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The end

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

I have always loved working with beginning writers, rejoicing with them, and sharing their excitement, as they make meaningful marks on paper for the first time.

Their stories may be just a few writing-like squiggles, one word, one sentence, or one event in length; but the stories in their heads are much more, with elaborate settings, characters and events. Their ability to create stories, for a long time outstrips their ability to express them in written words.

It is the role of the teacher to acknowledge the effort and, armed with an understanding of the writing process, knowledge of how writing develops, and awareness of each writer’s learning journey and needs, support the learning.

As soon as they can, many of these beginning writers add the words “The end” to their stories. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, of completion, of a job finished with nothing more to be done.

But don’t all writers enjoy that sense of accomplishment, of completion, of a job finished?

However, the reality is that there is usually much more to be done: revisions and rewrites, edits and proofreads, and feedback from readers to consider. The end of the story is only the beginning of the publishing process.

It is the process of writing that children must also learn. They need to know that not every piece must carry the perfection required of publication. Unrealistic expectations can quickly demolish a child’s willingness to have a go. Appropriate and timely feedback and encouragement is important to the development of beginning writers.

love of writing

Providing them with real audiences for their writing provides a purpose and incentive to engage in the process of revision, rewriting, editing and proofreading. Of course, the publication expectations of beginning writers are not as rigorous as for older or professional writers.

There are many ways of providing young children with readers; including:

  • class books of stories and poems (not unlike the flash fiction compilations of our stories)
  • books made for siblings or children in earlier grades
  • letters written to parents, grandparents, children at other schools
  • blogging, now widely accepted and implemented
  • journal writing

If all drafts of writing are kept in a folder or portfolio, a favourite can be chosen for improvement and publication. I wrote about this in a previous post: Writing to order. Conferences between the teacher and individual writers are important when choosing a piece and deciding on preparations required for publication.

The initial conference would be about the content; specifically what the writer wanted to convey, the intended audience, and how the writer wanted the audience to feel.

When the writer was happy with the message, usually after revisions, edits, and possible rewrites, discussions would focus on choice of words and sentence structures.

The final conference would target surface features such as spelling and punctuation.

No red pen is ever used by the teacher to mark a child’s work. All changes are made by the child in pencil. The purpose of conferencing is to help children develop independence in their own writing process. The number of conferences and revisions required would be tailored to an individual writer’s development.

In order to respond to what has been achieved, it is necessary to understand the individual’s development, and to ascertain whether this piece of writing is reflective of that. Consideration must be given to all aspects of development displayed in the work; for example:

  • is the message clear?
  • is the piece complete?
  • what words are spelled correctly?
  • what language structures are incorporated?
  • does it sounds bookish?
  • does it have elements of figurative or poetic language?

There is always something new to celebrate in each piece of writing.

In the end, what is important is to encourage children to write, to wonder, and imagine. The process for young writers is not much different from that of all writers, and their egos are just as tender. We want their engagement with writing to have happy endings.

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills wrote that

“Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. It might be the end of the world as we know it, what comes next?”

She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an unexpected ending.”

The end of my story, I hope, implies a new beginning; and a better one than that of the original I penned. (I’ll let you know at the conclusion.)

Pretty Princess

Once upon a time there was a princess, pretty in pink and smothered in cottonwool. In constant preparation for the life arranged for her, there were few opportunities to think outside her royal expectations and obligations: Stand straight. Point your toes. Smile sweetly; and on, and on.

But think she did: Why does the moon shine? What makes the rain fall? How does the grass grow? Why can’t I: play outside? straighten my hair? eat with my fingers? go to school with other kids?

One day she said, “That’s it. I’m going.”

And she did. The end.

In the original the parents said she’d only leave over their dead bodies. She said that could be arranged!

“And she did. The end.”


Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.



Author Spotlight: Lauri Fortino – Readilearn

The author in the spotlight this month is the wonderful Lauri Fortino, author of The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated by Bong Redila, published by Ripple Grove Press.

Please pop over to the readilearn blog to read all about Lauri’s writing process and her delightful picture book.

Source: Author Spotlight: Lauri Fortino – Readilearn

Five Photos Five Stories – Day two

Back to Day one and introduction

What am I?

One may wonder why I have responded to Geoff Le Pard‘s challenge almost immediately when there are other invitations that have lain opened but unanswered for longer than I like to admit. For example, some months ago Anne Goodwin tagged me in a writing process blog hop. She shared the what, how and why of her writing process and invited me to share mine. She applied no pressure or time constraints and neither nudged me to comply nor chastised me for not having done so.  Not quite as long ago Sherri Matthews tagged me in a work space blog hop. She shared beautiful images and descriptions of her delightful Summerhouse writing space and invited me to share mine. Sarah Brentyn then shared some questions for writers that I hinted I might answer, but haven’t yet.

Why the procrastination?

  1. I’m still figuring out what kind of writer I am and how to describe my process.
  2. My writing space isn’t all that exciting. It’s a just a laptop sitting on a desktop that is cluttered with books and other paraphernalia waiting to be organised or dealt with, and surrounded by shelves filled with more of the same; not a bad analogy to my writing process perhaps.
  3. I’ve been working in other quadrants, dealing with ‘easier’ stuff as it arises.

As with Geoff’s challenge, responses to these blog hops are not compulsory and there is no set time-frame but I do wish to, and do intend to, answer them. Thank you Anne, Sherri and Sarah for your patience. I will get there. Eventually.

My writing space 14 May 2015

My writing space 14 May 2015

My procrastination is in part due to the way I view myself as a writer.

I find it difficult to define the “type” of writer I am. That I am a writer is true. But what kind? I wonder if I am a writer without a label, without a box?

Perhaps if you can help me answer this I’ll be more confident about joining in conversations about writing.

I am not a novelist, not a poet, not a biographer or an auto-biographer, not a picture book writer . . . I am an educational writer, incorporating something of each genre.

I remember doing a psychometric test at some past time. The results suggested that a desire to be everything to everybody would be my undoing. Perhaps that is also an issue with my writing?

Sometimes when asked by other writers what type of writing I do, for want of another label I refer to myself as an educational writer. I immediately feel a shrinking away as if educational writing isn’t ‘real’ writing and I’m perhaps not a “real” writer.

“Oh educational writing,” they judge, “that’s so prescriptive. It’s not creative.”

Sure I have done my share of prescriptive writing. The “writing” for which I have been employed for the past three years is definitely prescriptive – more cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s without a modicum of creativity; and as my list of publications shows, I have written workbooks for other publishers, “prostituting” myself one kind-hearted friend suggested. But there are worse ways to earn a living, right?

I don’t consider my self-initiated educational writing as prescriptive. Most of what I write is designed to encourage thinking, problem solving, creativity, interest in a variety of topics, or develop literacy and numeracy skills, but definitely not in a structured, skills-oriented, prescriptive approach. I write fiction, non-fiction and poetry; and open ended materials that encourage children to question. I love to add a touch of humour where possible and mostly aim for engaging materials that motivate thinking and learning.

My current writing schedule involves writing content for this blog and for an in-progress online store of early childhood educational resources.

So, what sort of writer am I?

There is one I know I am not. I am not a songwriter.

I nominate Anne Goodwin, Sherri Matthews and Sarah Brentyn to take up this Five Photos Five Stories challenge if and when they so choose. But they need to be aware that I require no more of them than they have expected of me!

The “rules” of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.