problems that the character could possibly
face. Where is the character? Is he or she
living in an inner city, on farmland, in the
West, or in an outer space setting? This is
another opportunity to flip through some
more magazines or books or do another
web search, looking for inspiration.
As I have seen
others apply this
strategy in their own
most children have
exceeded the writing
When the setting has been determined,
glue or tape those pictures to the board.
Other pictures could also influence ideas
about the plot. Bicycles, cars, houses,
buildings, animals, or anything else that
contributes to the story setting should be
included on the board.
Everyone likes a little drama. Suggest
to the writer that you all act out a few
scenes that the character may run into in
the setting environment. If the character
were stranded in a desert, would he be
parched, hot, and hungry? His main goal
would be to find shelter and provisions.
Voilà! You have discovered the plot.
Now explain how the character feels,
what he sees, hears, or thinks. Make a
list of all these descriptions, including
things that the character may say. Describe some of the emotions the character may go through. Would he or she be
scared; would he or she cry; would he or
she scream? In the desert we know that
he would certainly sweat! These small
descriptions help to solidify a character’s
features, physical state, attributes, mannerisms, or quirky habits.
Making a list of problems, small and
large (due to the character’s environment), provides the story’s highs and
lows. Most stories usually have three
scenes (i.e., major problems to be solved).
Encourage the writer to ask himself,
“What would happen if . . . ?” For each
“what if,” a solution must be found. This
provides the basics for a story outline.
Put it all together, making sure the story
flows with a beginning, middle, and end.
Number or rearrange the pictures, if possi-
ble, into story order on the board. Now the
writing work begins. If you have access to a
video or digital camera, inform the student
that the story will become his own movie.
for a Story Board
writing may become so much fun that it
will be the only subject your students will
want to do.
Cindy M. Jones lives in Birmingham with
her husband and children. Her articles have
appeared in Focus on the Family and
Life-way publications. As founder of Cahaba
Christian Writers, she strives to encourage
both the novice and professional writer. For
information on speaking engagements or
workshops, visit www.cindymjones.com,
www.cahabachristianwriters.com, or jones