Today, I did my first school visit. I've been in front of a class before. Actually, for 8 years! But this time was different. Today, I stood in front of the class, not as a teacher, per se, but as a writer and it felt great! I loved every minute of it. Well... except the pre-public-speaking-jitters. But once I got started that all vanished. Well... except some physical signs of my nerves lingered... I always break out in a ruddy, hivey, rash on my chest when I'm nervous about something.
*note to self - no matter the season, be sure to wear something that comes up high on my neck!
So, what did I talk about? Well, this was a 4th grade class getting ready to embark on writing their own stories. The teacher wanted her students to learn not only about what it's like to be a writer, but about first person vs third person and POV.
I began by telling them a bit about me, what I do as a writer for a living and about my speculative middle grade novel. I showed them how my idea began on the back of a napkin and then I read the first page of my novel as it progressed through its revisions.
After each first page was read, we discussed if it was written in third or first person, whose POV it was told from, and if it told the reader much about the MC; the setting, genre, etc. They saw how the first draft's first page, although sounded "pretty" really didn't say much about my MC.
Then, we spoke about my third draft and how it began with a prologue. Again, they were able to see it had now moved from third person to first person and the POV was from an object and not a person...
I asked them to raise their hands if they ever read prologues. One student boldly rose her hand. I explained that's why the NEXT draft no longer had a prologue...
*note to all writers - kids don't read prologues!
By the time we got to my current draft's first page, they were able to identify all the "wanted" elements of a first page; hopefully, a hook that grabbed their attnetion, they knew the MC, her age, her friends, that she was no longer friends with them, and that she was different in a very rare and unique way.
Then we went on to list all the pros and cons of third person and first person before moving on to POV. To really show POV, we listed examples of fairy tales on the board and who the MCs and antagonists were. The kids tried to come up with ways to tell the story from the antagonists view point. Stories to read that do this well are The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Wicked by Gregory McGuire.
Next week, I will return to lead a writer's circle with them. In the meantime, they will begin writing their stories.
It truly was a lot of fun. I felt alive and happy when I left and now I know, I CAN do school visits! I have plenty to talk about and plenty to share, and the kids were fantastic!
Do you think it is fair to charge for school visits if you are not published yet? I did this one for free. But I would like to hear from the peanut gallery! What do you think?