Authors are mysterious people. When beginning a new novel with my kids, I always introduce the author by explaining what little information I can dig up about him/her. But how often is it that you really feel like you KNOW the author, or that you have a true connection with him/her? Don't authors typically seem to feel like a figment of your imagination? Like they can't be real? Well, as I walked up to welcome Cynthia to our school once again, I stuck out my hand for a formal handshake. Instead, she wrapped both arms around me and embraced me with the most sincere hug. Her hug was a gentle reminder that she's just that kind of person, both in her writing and as a person in general.
Weeks ago, when I began reading Cynthia Lord's novel Rules to my students, I found myself withholding information about her, in fear that I would ruin the surprises that I knew were to come in her presentation. Needless to say, I know that my students weren't disappointed in her presentation. I can't say that they have been many times that my students attentively listened for an hour straight, but this was definitely an exception! She spent an hour with my students discussing how she came up with her plot for Rules, the ways she developed her characters and settings, and she even taught my students a formula that seemed to fit in perfectly into my plans for realistic fiction writing:
The WOW Formula
- Obstacles: What is in your character's way?
- What does he/she do, trying to get it?
I wish we had the opportunity for more authentic learning experiences like this week's author visit. It's days like this that encourage me to continue to look outside the box to find ways to inspire my students to be writers.