The purpose of this blog for teachers and my mission as a kids’ book author who does frequent visits to schools is to MAKE WRITING VISIBLE. So much of writing is invisible, inside our brains. That’s where we get our ideas. That’s where we figure out what will happen in our stories. That’s where our creativity lives. That’s where our characters come to life. But are there ways to make all those invisible happenings more visible? YES! I believe we can and we must. By making writing more visible, we take the mystery out of the process. We offer young authors help and hope for becoming better authors. So please join me in MAKING WRITING VISIBLE!

STRONG nouns, STRONG verbs

Descriptive writing is good, but too often authors depend on adjectives and adverbs to do the describing. Writing is stronger when writers use STRONG nouns and STRONG verbs.

For example, instead of saying, " The large, shaggy dog was breathing noisily with its mouth open," say, "The sheepdog panted." A much stronger word picture! Or instead of writing, "The very small dog was making an irritating noise," write, "The toy poodle yipped." Once again, a stronger word picture (for more on writing word pictures, check out the "Word Pictures Blog").

See the video above for more examples of strong nouns and strong verbs. Share the video with your students for a mini-writing lesson (they'll enjoy and hopefully remember the noun and verb "muscles" in this video as a reminder when they write). Then have your students do the Strong Nouns, Strong Verbs handout below to practice writing their own strong nouns and verbs.

As always, be aware as readers. Have students point out strong nouns and strong verbs they find when they read books. Then encourage them to review a piece of their own writing from their writing folders. Have them use a highlighter to mark strong nouns and strong verbs they used in their pieces. Next, ask them to revise and add stronger nouns and verbs to places in their writing pieces that could benefit from them.

By all means, share some of your young authors' strong nouns and strong verbs in the comments section below. Thanks and have fun making writing VISIBLE!



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Reading & Writing WORD PICTURES

What are WORD PICTURES? Phrases we read or write that we can SEE even WITHOUT ILLUSTRATIONS--they are so vivid! Sometimes students need to work on SMALLER PIECES OF WRITING, not always complete stories. Working on phrases helps writers to get warmed up and to boost their imagery in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming. Then later, it will be easier to create word pictures in longer pieces of writing. It's sort of like being able to walk a half-mile before trying to run a marathon.

Students should first try to FIND WORD PICTURES in published pieces of writing. See several examples in the video above, including "flooding waters, wildest waves, and harshest hurricanes blasted" (from the fable The First Feud). Students can write word pictures they find in books in the handout included below.

Next, students can try WRITING WORD PICTURES. Start by having young authors look around and write word pictures for things they see, such as: "a kicked-in-the-corner, two-inch gnawed pencil" or "a wobbly stack of cartoon lunch boxes." Find more examples in the video. After writing word pictures about things they SEE, then have students write word pictures for things they REMEMBER, such as what they had for breakfast, a vacation detail, their last family celebration, etc. See examples of Lynn's word pictures in the video. Students can also write their own word pictures on the handout included below.

For a fun gimmick to share word pictures--whether ones students read or write--have them read the word pictures to others while holding a PICTURE FRAME in front of their faces. The idea is to have the words "framed" as if the words are creating the pictures--and they are!

You might keep a running LIST on chartpaper in your classroom of word pictures students find as readers and ones they write as writers. Such a list helps to "make writing visible."

NOTE: Thanks to Betsy who commented on the last EAR CANDY blog by saying that she was going to share the mini-lesson in the VIDEO WITH HER STUDENTS. I'd always envisioned these videos for teachers, but I think Betsy is on to something. By all means, share these videos with students--as mini-writing lessons. Then you can follow-up with the handouts/organizers that are included and have students practice the skill taught in each video.

ONE MORE NOTE: In the COMMENTS SECTION, please share some of the word pictures YOUR STUDENTS write.

Word Pictures Handout

Books which include word pictures featured in the video:
The First Feud, The Dump Man's Treasures, & Thank You, Grandpa

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