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Which skills at which age?

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Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 88
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 

How many times have you heard the same story on the writer's interview? "I started writing stories when I was single-digit years old. They weren't that good, but enough people encouraged me to keep writing."

Well, what if we both encouraged and purposefully enlightened those future writers who are today at that single-digit age and putting fingers on keyboards?

We can't, of course, expect them to pick up all the skills at once, but improving one at a time now in life could launch them further into that literary future, yeah? So, what is your recommendation of which skills a budding writer should get exposure to and start developing at which age below?

Age 10

Age 13

Age 16

Age 19

For example, if we would critique a 10-year-old's western mystery, should we ask them to keep consistent PoV in each scene? Thanks for your votes.

HMx9
SHMx1 (Q2'22)
2xCritiquer for Published Winners (Oh yeah, it's now a thing)

 
Posted : March 12, 2023 6:45 pm
(@morgan-broadhead)
Posts: 462
Gold Star Member
 

Here's what I would encourage at those ages:

Age 10 - Try out for the local baseball team. Fail the tryouts, get cut from the team, mope around for several days, then play pick-up games with your friends in an abandoned field. Or make the team and rip your ACL sliding into home plate. Next season, play soccer, then football, then basketball. Keep a journal and write about how those experiences made you feel.

Age 13 - Get a crush on your middle school teacher, then feel embarrassed when all your friends find out about it and tease you relentlessly. Mourn the loss of a dog who died unexpectedly when it wandered out into the street and got hit by a car, or seek revenge when you learn the neighbors poisoned it. Get beat up by the school bully a few times and plot his destruction over the coming school year.

Age 16 - Fall in love, lots of times, and get your heart broken. Learn how to handle rejection over and over again when you ask someone out and they tell you no way. Might as well start developing that thick skin now.

Age 19 - Ask your parents and relatives to send you to Europe for a couple weeks as your graduation present. Visit new places, meet weird people, do stupid things. Keep a journal and write about all of it.

"You can either sit here and write, or you can sit here and do nothing. But you can’t sit here and do anything else."
— Neil Gaiman, Masterclass

Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com
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Posted : March 13, 2023 5:38 am
(@reigheena)
Posts: 109
Bronze Star Member
 

I wouldn't think of it as what skills by what age, but look at where they are, and what the next step would be. In my third-grader's (age 9) class, they're emphasizing including details in their writing and mastering the structure of a paragraph. So look at what the English program is targeting for each age, look at how your writer compares to that rubrick, and give pointers on how to improve on that. 

I would also ask the writer what kind of feedback they want. If the writer just wants to know if its good, say yes - give specific praise, and maybe one or two areas to work on. If the writer says they want to know how to make it better, you can get more critical feedback. However, you may be their first critiquer, and so they may be more sensitive to feedback than others. The important thing is to not kill the joy of writing. 

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Posted : March 25, 2023 7:59 am
Gideon Smith
(@gideonpsmith)
Posts: 277
Silver Star Member
 

@morgan-broadhead "Visit new places, meet weird people, do stupid things."

I find this works for almost any stage of life  ? 

"...your motivations for wanting to write are probably complex. You may have a few great passions, you may want to be rich and famous, and you may need therapy."
- Dave Farland, Million Dollar Outlines

Writers of the Future:
2024 Q1: F Q2: HM Q3:P Q4: P
2023 Q1: RWC Q2: SHM Q3: SHM Q4: R
2022 Q4: R
Submissions to other markets:
2024: 17 submitted 4 acceptances
2023: 74 submitted 13 acceptances
2022: 22 submitted 1 acceptance

http://www.gideonpsmith.com

 
Posted : April 1, 2023 5:20 am
Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 88
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 

Posted by: @reigheena

In my third-grader's (age 9) class, they're emphasizing including details in their writing and mastering the structure of a paragraph. So look at what the English program is targeting for each age, look at how your writer compares to that rubrick, and give pointers on how to improve on that. 

The important thing is to not kill the joy of writing. 

Thank you. That is the specificity I wanted. I'll network with and reach out to a few elementary / middle school English teachers for more details. If anyone else has specific skills for specific ages that you are aware of as "typical," I'd love to hear.

 

HMx9
SHMx1 (Q2'22)
2xCritiquer for Published Winners (Oh yeah, it's now a thing)

 
Posted : April 2, 2023 3:20 pm
Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 88
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 

Posted by: @morgan-broadhead

Here's what I would encourage at those ages:

Age 10 - Try out for the local baseball team.

Age 13 - Get a crush on your middle school teacher

Age 16 - Fall in love, lots of times, and get your heart broken.

Age 19 - Ask your parents and relatives to send you to Europe for a couple weeks 

 

While I both understand and appreciate your point, you are advocating for status quo, for BAU (Business As Usual). I'm looking to improve someone's condition. Nothing will slow or prevent the life plan above, so experiences will ensue. My goal is to boost a young fiction writer's skill, nudge it a little higher a little sooner, specifically when I have an opportunity to critique a story they've already written on their own anyway.

 

HMx9
SHMx1 (Q2'22)
2xCritiquer for Published Winners (Oh yeah, it's now a thing)

 
Posted : April 2, 2023 3:27 pm
Gideon Smith
(@gideonpsmith)
Posts: 277
Silver Star Member
 

@joe-benet 

 

So if you're serious another resource you might want to look at are the homeschooling resources, many of which, curricula and tools are available online free.

 

It's hard to do things strictly by age as kids vary enormously, as I'm sure you know, not just in overall skill level but skill level in specific areas. So while one 14 year old may have a wide vocabulary and be good at placing punctuation, they may not grasp story structure yet, not know how to make a hook, or build tension. Generally its good to identify each of those areas and then evaluate what that specific child needs in context of their existing skills.

 

In general we (I am an ex-teacher, so maybe educational theory has moved on) don't focus much on teaching creative writing. We focus on reading, and critical writing, because those are skills easier to framework, and help build many of the creative ones.

 

so for critical writing we would

Age 10 - ask them to read a piece and identify the main idea and make a thesis statement

Age 13 - be making 3 section critiques incorporating an opening paragraph summarizing the main idea, a middle paragraph when point and counterpoint are made and tested, and a concluding paragraph where things are drawn together

Age 16 - as for 13 but now being able to do so for multiple texts or sources eg compare different novels with the hero's journey

Age 19 - advanced comparisons, thesis level discussions where the writer no longer just reports and compares/contrasts hypotheses from individual works but comes up with their *own* hypothesis that somehow links works eg the societal setting in which the authors were writing can be seen in the work (e.g. compare types of work produced in Germany post world war 2 vs America, then compare to pre-war to try and understand how much the war caused a divergence and were the ideological divergences already present)

 

For reaading

check the scholastic reading series

 

On a *very* general scale - though these are certainly not set in stone you will find

Age 10 - a lot of simple plots, often contained in one day. Sometimes still contain pictures to maintain interest/attention, but are usually beyond 'picture books'

Age 13 - more complex plots, often a cast of characters and spanning an extended time period. These are chap books. conflicts will often be the bread and butter of teenagehood. relationships, emotions, bullying, 

Age 16 - POV of writing in this group can be more abstract, as can the underlying themes and ideas and often subject matter is more world view, but still often about teenagers in the world, not just the world itself

Age 19 - often darker pieces, war and peace, Virginia wolf, themes of angst, etc

 

Translating all this into creative writing

 

Age 10 - Creative efforts often have one idea. Like a plot bunny. But you wouldn't expect them to develop it much. They're going to be mimicking the stories they have read, usually a grade or two before where they are at with reading.  Vocabulary however will be representative of where their reading skill is at. They should understand what a paragraph is and that it is an 'idea'.

Age 13 - They'll start with a plot bunny and try to take it somewhere. Like their critical writing it will go somewhere but often won't make complete sense. There will be an awful lot of deus ex machina or waking from dream solutions to fix their plot holes. Paragraphs and punctuation should be under good control.

Age 16 - Now they're writing epics. At least they are epic to the characters involved. Oftentimes there is no worldbuilding around it, and deus ex machina is still popular. However, the overall development of the plot, like their critical writing is starting to take shape.

Age 19 - complete stories, with evolution. Sometimes the themes are still limited by world view, sometimes not. I have to be careful what I say before people start bringing up Mary Shelley or Christopher Paolini. But some kids/young adults, your best bet is just to let them create and not interfere.

 

Not sure if that is helpful as not sure in what context you are trying to do things. There are good writing programs/workshops specifically aimed at kids (in spec fic and general fiction) along the same lines as Odyssey and Clarion for adults and you might want to look at their materials and/or reach out to them and discuss what you are thinking of doing, though I believe the way they do it is similar to the adult workshopping where they get lectures in craft, they produce materials and they get critiques - but kindly and with a focus more on nurturing enthusiasm - i think they only consider age in who qualifies for that specific workshop

"...your motivations for wanting to write are probably complex. You may have a few great passions, you may want to be rich and famous, and you may need therapy."
- Dave Farland, Million Dollar Outlines

Writers of the Future:
2024 Q1: F Q2: HM Q3:P Q4: P
2023 Q1: RWC Q2: SHM Q3: SHM Q4: R
2022 Q4: R
Submissions to other markets:
2024: 17 submitted 4 acceptances
2023: 74 submitted 13 acceptances
2022: 22 submitted 1 acceptance

http://www.gideonpsmith.com

 
Posted : April 4, 2023 5:59 am
Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 88
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 

@gideonpsmith 

Dang, thought I replied right away on this. Sorry 🙁

This is exactly what I wanted since I had no clue where to even start. I know to adjust as needed. Thank you.

HMx9
SHMx1 (Q2'22)
2xCritiquer for Published Winners (Oh yeah, it's now a thing)

 
Posted : May 22, 2023 2:48 pm
Gideon Smith reacted
(@johnalex20)
Posts: 18
Advanced Member
 

Absolutely, nurturing young writers is a fantastic idea! Let's guide them step by step:

Age 10 - Foster imagination and creativity. Encourage them to write freely, exploring different genres. Basic storytelling elements like characters, settings, and simple plots are key.

Age 13 - Introduce structure and character depth. Help them focus on building more detailed plots, consistent character traits, and basic dialogue skills. Praise their progress to boost confidence.

Age 16 - Expand style and technique. Teach them about different writing styles, figurative language, and descriptive techniques. Encourage experimenting with different perspectives and narrative voices.

Age 19 - Refine and critique. Now's the time for constructive feedback. Analyze plot coherence, character arcs, and pacing. Delve into deeper themes and encourage self-editing skills.

For critiquing a 10-year-old's western mystery, indeed, suggesting consistent PoV and maintaining a clear narrative voice would be helpful. Also, focus on engaging openings, descriptive scenes, and gradual plot development. Remember, nurturing their passion is key; positive reinforcement goes a long way

 
Posted : August 8, 2023 10:50 pm
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