Instructor Magazine, April 2001
Ever try to start a game but no one can agree on who should go first, or who should play which position? Chaos, and not much fun. Writing is the same way, because a little bit of organizing makes it go a lot better. Students' writing will improve when they make informed choices about how to organize it.
Organization is both global--how thoughts are organized to create a cohesive piece of writing--and local--how writers use sentence structure, including punctuation, to communicate effectively for different purposes.
In the pages that follow, share what second-grade teacher and children's book author Frank Murphy has to say about organizing a story even before pencil meets paper. Mini-lessons on text structure, transitions, and out-of-the-ordinary sentences give students more tools for becoming better writers.
Meet the Author: Frank Murphy
Frank Murphy spent three years writing The Legend of the Teddy Bear (Sleeping Bear Press, 2000). Most of that time was spent "organizing," but not what is conventionally thought to be organizing. Share the author's thoughts with your students. They'll love to learn that writing isn't always done sitting in a chair
Long before pencil hits paper or fingers tap a keyboard, a writer has to, simply stated, search for stuff. This makes a story come to life, whether it's fiction or nonfiction This means active organization--collecting facts, artifacts, words, and more; making lists; talking through ideas with others. I have never started actually writing a story as soon as I had an idea. Instead I get busy gathering as much as I can find that will bring me closer to my idea, so that it will eventually make a great story.