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....."?

My first grade teacher is Mrs. Spicer class.

Mrs. Spicer class.
I like math.
I like to read books.
I like to play outside.
I like to eat lunch.
My second grade teacher is Mrs. Elliott and i like her.
My first grade teacher is Mrs. Spicer and i like her too.


Kelsey wrote some good ideas about school, too. I wondered if her teachers, Mrs. Elliott and Mrs. Spicer were friends? What if they talk on the lot while Kelsey is outside for play time with her friends? What if Kelsey and her friends invite Mrs. Elliott and Mrs. Spicer to play ball with them? What would happen? There are so many fun story-lines to use with ideas about school. What if the book Kelsey is reading is magic and the characters come to life? Or, what if the story is about Kelsey? Wouldn't that be strange? If I picked up a book and started to read it and it was about me I would wonder who wrote it and how they knew about me! What if something strange like that happened to Kelsey while she was a school? Or Kelsey could have a wacky day at school. What if everyone was wearing pajamas and curlers in their hair? What if they had their clothes on inside out? What if they were wearing odd socks and shoes? What would Kelsey think?

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

Kelsey added more "What if" questions:

December 6, 1999

What if

What if the story is abouut Kelsey Lynn Lambrose?
What if vereybody talked while Mrs. Elliott was talking?
What if Stacey saw a red cow and a horse on the playground?
What if Robert saw a blue sheep on a farm next to school?
What if Andrew saw a yellow animals in the field by the gym?
What if Trevor has different kines of animals at haves colors?
What if Kelsey Lynn Lambrse has blue dogs?
What if Mrs. Elliott and Mrs. Spicer played baseball with them?
What if Mrs. Weeg saw a white grass?
What if I saw green and blue grass?

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


A red cow, a blue sheep, a horse on the playground, yellow animals and blue dogs? It sounds like your story will be about things that are different. How will your teacher and your classmates feel about these mysteriously different animals? Will you have to defend them? Will they have to run away and hide? Will everyone like them? What will the real problem be in your story and how will you solve it? I am already curious. Remember to let us know what your main character thinks about this problem, and have fun writing!

Kelsey's revision:

A Colorful Day
by Kelsey Lynn Lambrose

When I woke up I had a strange feeling that it was going to be a funny day. I looked in the mirror and a smiling face was looking back at me. The girl in the mirror was me but I wasn't wearing the same clothes! Oh my, this is strange. The red shirt I had on was green in the mirror. The blue jeans I was wearing were brown! I asked myself, "What kind of mirror is this? Are my eyes playing tricks on me?" I ate my breakfast and then it was time to get on the bus and go to school. The bus came around the corner and it was purple!

My friends on the bus were wearing mixed matched clothes. They all looked so silly. Oh no, what is going on? The bus arrived at school and we got off. I went into the school building and saw more mixed up colors. I went into my classroom and began my morning work. My pencil was writing in green lead.

At lunch time I bought milk and it was blue. It tasted different but not too bad. After lunch we went to play and the grass was pink. We went back into the classroom to do our work. I was working hard on my test when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was shaking me. I could hear my name. I opened my eyes and it was my mom!

"Kelsey, you didn't clean the spilled paint! You fell asleep and the mess is still there. Wake up and clean the table," said mom.

"Oh mom, you'll never believe the dream I had in my sleep," I said. Then I told her the story. I was so happy it was all a dream and all the colors were right again.

I went into the kitchen where my paint spilled and cleaned the mess.

Mrs. Szymanski's comments:


Your colorful day was an exciting dream. The very first sentence makes me know that the story is going to get exciting. And it did!

As I read, I wondered how I would feel if I woke up and looked into the mirror and my clothes were changing colors. I liked that you wondered if your eyes were playing tricks, or if the mirror had some- thing wrong with it. That made it all seem even more real to me.

When the purple bus pulled up I had to laugh. Can you imagine a bright purple bus? Well, I guess you did imagine it, and it was a nice touch in your story.

As I read on I wondered what you would see next, and you kept me reading with all your great descriptions of colorful changes. I liked the way you kept the theme of your story going with blue milk, green pencil lead, and pink grass! But most of all I liked the end. It was fantastic how you tied together the left-behind spilled paint (with all of its swirllig colors) and the incredible colorful dream!

You wrote a terrific story, Kelsey!

Your friend,
Lois Szymanski


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Patti Weeg

March 23, 2000