Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Map Writing Exercise

on September 7, 2012

I’ve been accepted for another three years on the Washington State Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster. This is my second, three-year term on the roster, and I’m thrilled!  The first two years I was on the roster, the grants were slim pickings and there wasn’t much work. But, things are gradually improving, and so I’m hopeful to pick up a few teaching artist jobs over the next couple years. In order to be on the roster, a teaching artist must demonstrate they are both a strong teacher and a strong writer. Then, during each of the three years that I am on the roster, I am required to complete a renewal application stating where I have been a teaching artist for the previous year, and listing classes and workshops I’ve taken, along with any goals.

My official listing can be found here.

Over the last week, I’ve been in some planning and discussion with Discovery Community School for an after-school creative writing class. I’m not entirely sure it’s going to happen yet, (we’re working out funding and details), but it reminds me a little bit of the “Young Authors Club” my Mom and I once facilitated when I was a seventh grade teacher. Mom ran a Young Authors Club at my sister’s middle school, and so, we thought it’d be fun to do one at the school where I had my first teaching job. Each week, Mom arrived with snacks and writing ideas. We spent Monday afternoons writing with five young writers–some of whom where very good! One young man went on to place in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and another young lady went on to work as an editor. It was at the Young Writers Club that I  first realized I wanted to write for kids.

One thing I know about working with kids after-school is they need activities which encourage not only creative writing, but also integrate some art. So, in the first few weeks, we’ll be working on a  Map Writing Exercise to help the kids build their story worlds. This spring, I took an on-line class at Savvy Authors, called Building a Contemporary World for Romance Stories. The class opened my eyes to the fact it’s not just fantasy and science fiction writers who need to build story worlds, it’s also contemporary writers.  By the end of that class, I had the ideas for three, linked romance stories.

Here is the exercise I’ll be using with the young writers:

The Map Writing Exercise

Take a large butcher piece of paper and draw a map of your story character’s neighborhood include places such as: school, best friend’s house, enemies house, parks, shops, churches, woods, rivers, streets, libraries, etc.

Mark at least three significant incidents on the map with a large X.

Imagine your character in one of those incidents. Write a list of sensory details (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) that is associated with the incident. Be sure to think about the season. Winter will have different sensory details than spring.

Repeat for each significant incident marked with an X

Write a one to two page scene with your character in each scene.

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