Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 20:06:25 -0800
From: lois szymanski
Subject: Re: Online mentoring... The Brainstorming Game

Hello Robert, Jessica, Stacey, Trevor, Andrew and Kelsey,

I had fun reading your story ideas. Brainstorming for ideas is a great way to come up with a story, and you have each listed some exciting story-starting ideas. Now you can take the step a lot of real authors take next, and play the "What-if?" game. When you play the "What-if?" game you look at the ideas you've listed and ask, "What if....."?


I hunt with an adult
hunt for deer
hunt in a field near my house
I like to see fire coming out of the barrel.
loud bang
rifle pushes back on my shoulder
gut it then skin the deer


Andrew must know that it is hunting season. He made me think about the crisp, cool air, an apple in my pocket, and a walk in the forest where the air smells like pine and leaves. Ummmm. I like thinking about that! Hunting is a fun sport, and a necessary sport, but it can be dangerous. What if Andrew's story makes readers remember to be safe when they hunt? What if Andrew sees the deer and remembers to do everything the safe way? What if he has a careless friend with him, and Andrew teaches the friend to be careful? What if Andrew sees a deer that is hurt and he shoots it? He will help the deer be out of pain, and he will have meat for his family to eat. What if Andrew writes a story that helps someone else understand hunting? This could be a very important story.

The "what if?" questions I asked are just to get you started. I bet you can each think of even better "what if?" questions on your own. Your questions will help you turn your list of ideas into exciting stories. Inside each idea there are so many stories to tell. I can't wait to see what you will write about!

Your friend,
Lois Szymanski

Andrew replied with more "What if?" questions:

what if??

what if the deer took ME hostage????? what if the deer charged at me? what if the camoflage suit took me hostage? What if the gun got up and kick me in the butt. What if I heard a strange noise???


Mrs. Szymanski replied:

Hello Class,

I hope you had a happy holiday and vacation! You came up with some great what-if questions to start your story with. Now it is time to pick one or more of the what-if questions to write about. Put yourself inside the mind and thoughts of the main character. What would he or she do or think? As you build your story, remember this:

1. Every good story starts with a hook, that is usually a problem or a mystery that draws the reader in.

2. The middle of the story helps the reader get to know the main character better as the plot (or what is happening in the story) unfolds.

3. The end of the story solves the problem or the mystery. It makes the reader feel satisfied. The end is also called the conclusion.

I hope you have fun building your story. I can't wait to see what you will write!

Best Wishes,
Lois Szymanski


If you open your story with the deer taking you hostage, you will definately have a good problem to start your story! What would you do if this happened? Would you make friends with the deer, outsmart it and get it away, call on your dog to help, or work out a deal with the deer? I just know you will find a way to get out of this mess, and I can't wait to see what it is. Write from your heart and you will have a very special story. I'll be waiting to read it!

Andrew's revision:

The Mystery Buck
by Andrew

One day Dad and I were hunting together. On this day we went inside the shed which is in the middle of a field. We sat on a board in the shed because if we walked in the grass and sat there our camouflage would not blend in and the deer would smell us.

Dad and I sat very quietly in the shed for about an hour. We couldn't make a sound because the deer would hear us. For a whole hour we did not see anything. I was disappointed because nothing happened. We decided to go somewhere else.

Then we checked my mom-mom amd pop-pop's field. This field is in a totally different place. We got in dad's Subaru and drove for about a minute. Their field has a mix of corn, wheat and beans. It's about 3 acres or so. Kernels of corn were spread out on the ground in a space about 8 feet wide. We got out of our car and looked in the corner of the field and there it was! We could see a big buck walking away in the distance. We tried to make a grunting sound because that's the sound that the female deer makes when it's ready to mate. The buck turned around and this was our chance.

After we shot the deer we picked it up and noticed that the foot had been shot off a long time ago. We thought it was the deer that a man named Paul shot but no one ever found it. We solved the mystery! We think we found the wounded deer that always got away. The End.

Mrs. Szymanski's comments:


I was very impressed with your story, Andrew. You stuck to your guns and told your story the way it happened. I think that is wonderful! Some stories are meant to be told exactly as they happened. Yours is one of those stories.

I loved the details in your story, too. Your descriptions of what was planted in the fields and how the kernels of corn were scattered about made it easy for me to picture your scene. I really liked hearing why you, as a hunter, did the things you did, like why you sat on a board and why you sat so quietly. I imagined sitting still for an hour and I could feel your disappointment when nothing happened. Then, finding out why you made the grunting sounds, and feeling the excitement of seeing the buck at last made the emotion in your story grow until you ended with the surprise of solving a mystery from long ago.

What a special story, Andrew. I think you are a very special person. Thank you for sharing your story. You have made it wonderful!

Your friend,
Lois Szymanski


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Patti Weeg

March 22, 2000