I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you’re writing for young readers, your old stuff is just a goldmine. And by “old stuff,” I mean anything that allows you to connect with who you were as a teen or fifth grader or college freshman, etc.
When I wrote my first YA, A BLUE SO DARK, I dug through all the old spiral-bound notebooks I filled with poetry throughout high school. Not only did it help me get back into the right teen voice, a few of those poems actually worked their way into the finished book (tweaked a bit to fit the events of the novel).
Last year, I bumped into this gem–it appears to be an old school project (I’m thinking I was about 8 when I did this, since that’s when I learned cursive) in which I invented a superhero. My creation?
When Susan is not being super, she is mild-mannered Susan Crawford:
Here I am brainstorming Super Susan’s abilities:
And here’s my short piece on Super Susan:
Susan’s true superpower? According to that last paragraph, it’s kindness.
I got such a kick out of this, and I wanted to give other young writers an opportunity to invent a superhero of his or her own. The end result? A brainstorming journal:
In this journal, young writers will not only create a new superhero, they’ll also learn the basics of crafting strong characters, building solid conflict, and finding an emotionally satisfying story conclusion.
The journal also asks writers to consider how their characters change. Taking a page from the Super Susan book, the journal encourages writers to give their heroes a chance to show kindness to their enemy. By showing kindness, writers can see how those heroes and enemies can actually find common ground, maybe even join forces.
I hope your young writers come up with something amazing. Well–actually, I don’t hope. I know they will. Snag your own copy here.