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....."?

November 18, 1999

my first day of school
new clothes
new book bag
new pencil box
new class
on my first day we had math,
we had art.

stacey daniels

Stacey is thinking about writing a story about school, too. What if she opens her bookbag and finds something she did not pack inside? What could it be? What if she opens her pencil box and someone jumps out, and what if, just like in the movie Toy Story the little person can talk? Or, what if Stacey decides to write a story at school? What will it be about? Maybe Stacey will tell a story about the story she writes in school. What if Stacey's first day at school is scary? What if everything goes wrong ( her pencils break, her chair is wobbly, and her math problems don't add up)? What if a friend helps her make everything alright and the day gets better? When you play the "What-If" game so many fun things can happen!

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

Stacey wrote more "What if?" questions"

What if?

your pencils get up and go away to your house and play with your toys and watch tv and he was eating your food while you are at school and than you get home and your house was a mess.

what if your houes was a school and you saw a class in your house the class said hello to you.

what if your class room was carrot and the people were there and you were there but the class was all a cows UH OH.

what if miss weg was a princess in school?


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


What a good problem to open a story with! If I came home and found my house a mess, then discovered my learning tools from school had done it while I was in the classroom, I'd be upset. Will your main character be upset? How will she get the pencils under control. (Uh, oh! I hope they didn't write on the walls!) You have a good problem to tackle! Good luck, and happy writing! I'll be waiting to see what happens in your story!

Stacey's First Draft

The Magic Pencil
by Stacey
Stacey open her pencil box and her pencil jumped out of her pencil box and went to her house and mess it up and the pencil which tv and sleep in stacey bed and then stacey got home and she find her pencil and taked it to school and told her theacher my pencil is magic and my theacher said your pencil isn't magic yes it is I said your joking right. no your not joking. no I'm not joking. it is really real I said thin my pencil grew Biger and Biger and Biger. my theacher said no your not joking. no.UHOH.lets run yes lets run my Theacher said. And then the magic pencil grew biger then the pencil almost got me but I ran fast then we got in the school then the pen

Mrs. Szymanski made suggestions:

Hi Stacey,

You've written a fun story, but you have some extra words. This happens to a lot of writers. When they are finished, they have to go back and take out some words. If you think about how you would tell this story to a friend, and write it down just like that it will help make the extra words disappear. It will also help when you use periods to break the story up into many shorter sentences. This will slow the story down a little, making it easier to understand.

If you add ed to the end of many words it will help the reader understand that this story has already happened. For example: "Stacey opened her ... The pencil went to her house and messed it up.

When you tell your story use I, or Stacey, but not both. Not all readers will know that you are Stacey!

How will your story end? Maybe you can trap the pencil in the pencil box and never let it out again?! I can't wait to see what you will write next!

Lois Szymanski

Stacey's Revision:

The Magic Pencil
by Stacey

Stacey opened her pencil box and her green pencil jumped out. It went to her house and messed it up. The green pencil took a yellow crayon and drew a big, big yellow pencil on the wall. The green pencil picked up a magic wand that he found on the floor by Stacey's bed. He waved the magic wand and said, "Abracadabra...Come Out!" All at once the yellow pencil jumped off the wall and the two pencils ran into the kitchen.

The green pencil and the yellow pencil made a strawberry cake. It was their favorite cake. They ate it all except a tiny piece for Stacey. The kitchen was a mess. They didn't clean the dishes and they got icing all over the table.

The pencils got tired and watched TV. Then they went to sleep in Stacey's bed. When Stacey got home she found the two pencils in her bed. She woke up the two pencils. Then she took her book bag and took out her pencil box and put then in. She took the pencils to school the next day.

Stacey told her teacher her pencil was magic. Her teacher asked her to show the class some tricks it could do. Stacey told her teacher it could draw pictures. Her teacher wanted to see some of the pictures the pencil could draw. Suddenly the pencil jumped out of the pencil case and drew a picture of her teacher. The pencil made her very pretty. The teacher smiled and said it was time to go home now. School was over.

Mrs. Szymanski's comments:

Dear Stacey,

Wow! You have really worked hard on your story! Your imagination has helped you add wonderful details to your story! I love how your green pencil draws a yellow pencil on the wall, then makes that new friend come to life using magic. You also show that Stacey can control her pencils when she has to, by locking them in her pencil box. By the end of the story your pencils have learned to do nice things, like drawing a pretty picture of the teacher.

Your story has all the elements of a good tale.
Your story started with a problem: Two naughty pencils.
It had a middle: The pencils get into trouble and more trouble.
And a solution: Stacey puts them in her pencil box.
And a conclusion: They have learned to be good pencils and everyone is happy!

I am proud of your story Stacey and of all your hard work. I can't wait to see how you will illustrate it!

Your friend,
Lois Szymanski


| home | greetings | new | kids | teachers | visitors | search |

Patti Weeg

March 1, 2000