Monday, November 12, 2012

The Secret Language of Stories by Carolee Dean!

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November 12 , 2012

I would like to start by welcoming all of the fantastic librarians and book lovers who signed up for our Spellbinders newsletter at the YALSA conference in St. Louis. You may find past issues of our newsletter on our Spellbinders Blog. If you would like to share this newsletter, please use the link at the bottom of this page that says "Forward this email." If you forward it through your regular email service, you may get unintentionally unsubscribed.

To find the twelve step story analysis I use to both plot my stories and teach writing to my students, visit The Secret Language of Stories page on my blog.

If you are interested in seeing the handouts from the YALSA Author Research Panel, I've created a page on my blog for that information as well. The handouts contain numerous suggestions for how to find local authors and conduct an author panel at your school or library. 
And now for my article...
Last month in my column I discussed The Major Impact of Minor Characters. I gave suggestions for several short forms such as the epigram and the epitaph that could be used to explore these often overlooked but invaluable folks. A fun activity making headstones was described.
Headstone for W.B. Yeats 
Another short form I enjoy is the cinquain. Cinquains are also a great way to explore characters. They are short, just five lines long as the name illustrates, so it's important to capture the essence of a character with as few words as possible. It's also a good activity for students who struggle with written language.
Writing character cinquains can be part of a book report or a stand alone activity. They may be used to create a "cast of characters" and because so much white space is left on the page, other artwork may accompany the project.
Because it's a poem, ideas are more important than grammar and punctuation. Ironically though, students  are still exploring grammar because the cinquain focuses on using parts of speech to create each line.

The basic format of the cinquain is as follows:
Line 1: One word (subject or noun)
Line 2: Two words (adjectives describing the subject)
Line 3: Three words (-ing verbs relating to the subject)
Line 4: Four words (feeling words, sentence, or phrase relating
           to the subject.
Line 5: One word (synonym or word that sums up the subject)

Forget Me Not 

In my recent verse novel, Forget Me Not, I wrote sections of the story in screenplay format. As an introduction to one of the sections, I wrote a series of cinquains describing the characters who appear in that scene. I decided to call this a cinquain chain because of the way the verses appear to be interlocking down the page. See the example below:

Cast of Characters:

afraid, alone
hurting, hiding, biding
never can go back

timid, guarded
sitting, knitting, praying
quiet girl in black

hungry, unsatisfied
holding, kissing, groping
always gets his way

Julie Ann
trapped, bored
forgetting, conceding, letting
she never gets away

dark, dangerous
playing, plotting, punishing
ruler of the hall

And a cameo appearance by:

brave, bold
knowing, helping, showing
he risks it all

So give it a try! Have fun creating cinquains of your own. 
 Black Stripes

Meet the Spellbinders

CaCarolee Deanrolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a
Comfort Paperback Cover
speech-language pathologist.

Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association) reading list. Take Me There is a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
Her upcoming paranormal verse novel, Forget Me Not, will be published by Simon Pulse in October of 2012.
Take Me There Cover
She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Act of Haiku."Forget Me Not

 Follow me on Twitter 

Caroline Starr RoseCaroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Back in New
Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time. 

To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to my website.


Kim Bio PhotoKimberley Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well Circle of Secretsas two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013.
She lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative Diary", a highly successful writing workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences.

Please visit her website to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides. 
Follow me on Twitter 

                 Upcoming Author Events

December 11, 2012
SCBWI Winter Party
and multi-author book signing
all of the Spellbinders
and several other authors

February 2, 2013
Montgomery Book Festival
Houston, TX 
Carolee Dean
Kimberley Griffiths Little

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