November 8, 2004
Dear Mrs. Szymanski,
My name is Shawna and I am 10 years old. I like to ride horses. I love to read and write. I like to cheerlead and I like school but I hate homework. I get A’s and B’s. I have 3 sisters. I love Spelling. And I am not so good at Math. The topic for my story is horses.
November 11, 2004
It is good to meet you by email! I am looking forward to writing to you throughout the school year! You and I both like horses! I used to ride all the time. Now I don't have as much time anymore. I will send you some pictures of our ponies!
It is wonderful that you love to read and write. Did you know that kids who read alot usually make the best writers? I love to read, too. I read almost anything. When I read about other people I like to pretend that I am in the book, sharing the character's adventures. Do you ever feel like that when you read? I am like you, I am not so good at math!
You are going to write a story about a horse. I wrote my first book about a horse, and then many more horse books aftwerwards. Horses are fun to write about. Do you know what kind of horse you will write about? Do you know what will happen to him in the story?
Most stories start with a problem. As soon as you start reading, you find out that something is going on. By the end of the story the problem is usually solved. Maybe you could think of a problem for your horse, or for a character that is friends with the horse. Then you could write a story about how the problem is solved.
I am looking forward to reading more letters from you. It will be fun to help you write your story!
December 7, 2004
Thank you for sending me your story map. You did a great job! I was impressed with all the detail and extra thought you put into the planning.
The setting is excellent! Remember to describe it so the reader can picture the house and the field and the horses inside.
Your problem is a good one. It is very scary when your horses get out. Our ponies got out one day when my daughter left the gate open. I was afraid one would run in the road and get hit by a car. The horse and the people in the car could have been hurt! But we found our horses two doors down. They were all sleeping under a neighbor's big, shady walnut tree! We rattled a can of grain and called them and they trotted right back in the fence to get their treat. Those silly horses had us so frightened! Your problem is very realistic and your solution is perfect. That's just what we did! Horses love grain, don't they?
It would be good to open your story in the middle of the action. Maybe you could look out the window and see the horses streaking by? Or maybe you could open with a neighbor calling to say he saw your horses down the road? Or maybe you could open with with you shouting, "Oh no, the horses are out!" or something like that. You can play the "What-If" game to come up with even more ideas. When I play the "What-If" game I ask myself lots of questions to figure out what would make the best story. I ask myself, "What if this happened in the story, or what if that happened in the story, how would it make the story turn out?" By doing that, you can come up with lots of ideas of how to write your plot!
Make sure you put your feelings into the story. I bet you are very worried and afraid when your horses get out. Make sure you say that in your story. If you do, it will help the reader feel frightened and worried, too!
Your solution is a very good one. Do they have halters on, so you can grab them and lead them home, or will they have to follow you with your bucket of grain or treats?
I can tell you love horses and your heart is in this story. I know it will be wonderful!
Horses on the Loose!By Shawna
I had just walked into the kitchen to make my younger sisters, Heather and Taylor, their lunch. They really like my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When I looked out the door I saw Kaly and Kala were gone. The gate to the paddock was open and the horses were nowhere to be found. I screamed, "Oh no!" and ran out the door.
Taylor continued to eat her lunch but Heather jumped up and ran to the phone. She knew this was not good. She called my best friend, Megan, who lives across the street. We could count on Megan to help when we needed her. And we needed her now!
Meanwhile I looked around the barn to find the reins. I found them hanging on the wall and grabbed them as I ran out the barn door. I started running and three or four houses down the road I saw my horses sleeping under a tree.
It was really hard to get the horses home. I took grain for them to eat so that they would follow me home. They were really hungry and ate half the bucket. I looked at my horses while they were eating and thought and thought about how much I love them. Kaly is black and she is very tall. And she is very wild so I ride her. Kala is brown and white she is small for my sisters. Kala and Kaly are very smart because about two years ago Kaly jumped over the fence and ran free for about two hours.
After eating all the grain they ran and had some fun but knew that they were going home with me. I am really glad I found my horses because I love them so very much.
January 20, 2005
Thank you for sending me your first draft. I love the way you opened the story right in the middle of the story's action, and that you opened using dialog. That is, having your character speaking. You opened in the middle of a problem and that is a wonderful way to open any story.
When your main character ran out the door to the barn, she got reins from the barn. Reins attach to a bridle. Since horses only wear bridles when someone is riding them, they probably wouldn't be wearing bridles. I bet they had their field halters on when they escaped. So you should have your main character get lead ropes to attach to the halters when they find the horses. You can hook the lead ropes to their halters when you find them, so you can lead them home.
It's neat that the horses were lying down under the neighbor's tree, just like mine were when they escaped many years ago! It was smart to have your main character take grain along when looking for the horses. Most horses will come for grain anytime.
Maybe your main character could describe how she feels as she runs down the road? What does she see before she sees the horses? Does she see anything that might have been dangerous to the horses? Is her mind racing with worries?
A good rule to follow when you write a story is to show what is happening, instead of telling. It would be good to hear what the horses look like as soon as you spot them. That way we will be seeing them through the main character's eyes, instead of hearing a description. You could say something like, "Under the tree was a short brown pony. It was Kala!" Then, you could describe Kaly standing next to her. The reader will feel like they are in the main character's mind, seeing the horses. This would also be a good time to say how much you love the ponies. I remember when I found my ponies after they escaped. Finding them made me realize how much I love them!
Near the end you say that Kaly is wild, so you ride her home. I wondered about that. Usually the wild horse is the one you can not ride. Did you mean she spooks at things when she is being led, and feels better when you ride her? If you ride one horse home, make sure you describe how you have to hold onto the other's lead rope so she can trot along behind.
I like the way you ended your story with the problem being solved. I can see a closed gate in my mind!
This is a wonderful first draft. I will look forward to seeing your story grow!
Horses on the Loose!By Shawna
"They're gone! Oh no! They've done it again!"
I had just walked into the kitchen to make my younger sisters, Heather and Taylor, their lunch. They had come in from riding my horses and were very hungry. They really like my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so I made them some. We all were in the kitchen when I looked out the window. I saw that Kaly and Kala were not in the paddock. The girls left the gate open and the horses were nowhere to be found. I screamed, "Oh no!" and ran out the door.
Taylor continued to eat her lunch but Heather jumped up and ran to the phone. She remembered the last time the horses ran off and knew this was not good. She called my best friend, Megan, who lives across the street. We could count on Megan to help when we needed her. And we needed her now!
Meanwhile I looked around the barn to find the reins. The horses still had had their bridles on because Heather and Taylor planned to ride some more after lunch. I found the reins hanging on the wall and grabbed them as I ran out the barn door. I started running and felt scared that Kala and Kaly were in danger. I saw a monster truck coming down the road and worried that they would get hit.
Then under the tree I spotted a short brown pony. Kala and Kaly looked so peaceful. They were very tired from all the running they had done that day.
It was really hard to get the horses home. I took grain for them to eat so that they would follow me home. They were really hungry and ate half the bucket. I looked at my horses while they were eating and thought and thought about how much I love them. Kaly is black and she is very tall. She can be difficult to ride at times but she lets me ride her. Kala is brown and white. She is small so my sisters can ride her.
Kala and Kaly are very clever. About two years ago they both jumped over a high fence and ran free for about two hours. On a hot summer day they went out of the fence and started to play. They also ate by the trees in the shade where they always had run around.
Kala and Kaly are really fun to play with and I raise them all by myself. It's not an easy job to raise horses because it's hard work. But it is worth it because I love my horses!
After eating all the grain Kala and Kaly ran and had some fun but knew that they were going home with me. I am really glad I found my horses because I love them so very much. I made sure that this time the gate was closed!
Thank you for sending me your latest draft. I can see you have been working very hard. I like the way your story has grown!
I love your first paragraph! You started right in the middle of the action and with dialog. Starting with dialog always makes a reader want to read more. Right away we are inside your main character’s head, knowing what she is thinking and how she feels. That’s a wonderful way to lead us into your story!
You second paragraph offers good information. It shows us the setting and introduces us to the characters. I like that a lot. The reader will be drawn into the story even more when he finds out the gate was left open.
I liked seeing a little bit about each character’s personality in the third paragraph. We know Taylor is not so concerned because she keeps on eating her lunch. And we know the neighbor is a good helper. I love the last line, “And we needed her now!”
It is very unusual to leave horses in the barn with their bridles on, or to take the reins off because they are so hard to put back on again. You can write it this way if you like, but it would be more realistic if the horses had their field halters on and you grabbed a lead rope instead of reins. You can do it however you feel comfortable because this is your story, but it would be more believable to bring lead rope to hook onto their halters.
I love the line you added about the monster truck! It adds extra tension. I was worried the horses would bolt from the loud noise. What a great addition!
I like paragraph five a lot, but you should change the last line to say they seemed very tired, since we can’t get inside their heads and be sure of how they feel.
Paragraph six is great, too! I wonder if you could put the description of the horses earlier in the story, though. It would help the reader picture the horses you are looking for. Starting with the sentence that says Kaly is black…. maybe you could move that description up and make it a new fourth paragraph?
I love the way you ended your story. We readers can tell you love the horses! I know how you feel because I love my horses, too! The last line of your story is wonderful. You have done a great job on this draft! Super work, Shawna!
Hugs from your friend,
Shawna moved to another school before our project was over. We miss her!
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May 5, 2005