Book Summary: One of the biggest hurdles for children to overcome in story writing is having good ideas and an awareness of how to develop and resolve the story problem. The purpose of this book is to help children develop an inner library of ideas and the ability to plan successful story problems and resolutions through story mapping. It does not involve the story writing process, although it certainly leads there. This is accomplished through the teacher guiding the class in researching picture books and chapters from novels. The research is then collected into idea banks and plot pattern categories.
The idea bank categories are: The plot pattern categories are:
1. encounters between characters
2. essential dialogue
5. acts of god
9. lucky breaks
11. hard work
12. truth that is discovered or revealed
6. physical or character transformation
When these idea banks and plot patterns are combined with picture graphics of new characters they stimulate imagination so that it is much easier to create an original story map.
This book explains the "how to". The teacher and students read a book, then verbally identify the plot pattern, and collect a specific idea, or object from the story to use in creating a new story map. (When ideas are collected, interesting variations on the concepts may be triggered. These variations should also be recorded in your idea banks and they can sometimes prove more useful than the original idea.) This gathering process is followed by the teacher modelling the story map on the overhead or with a poster. It will correspond with the book's plot pattern. The teacher will then choose new characters, and use the specific idea or object to create an original story map. Each child is then given a copy of the story plot pattern map. Next, he chooses his own character from a base of characters provided by the teacher. Finally, each child plans his own story map using the idea banks the teacher just built with the class from the book. Planning stories in this fashion should occur as often as time permits (once a week if possible) in order to develop the inner library of how story problems are built and resolved. In conclusion, the goal of this book is to help children plan many stories. Planning opportunities (when guided and modelled by the teacher) provide children with lots of practice learning how to research from books, identify different plot structures, and apply the research into new settings using different characters without having to write an entire story. It is an excellent addition to your current reading program, because it ties the reading and writing process directly together in a very high level thinking activity. I hope you have fun looking at books in a whole new light, gathering ideas with your class and generating amazing story problems from your research!