For anyone who has ever wanted to help their children write good
stories but wasn't sure how to go about it, look no further. Lee
Roddy has developed just the manual that you need, and it's published
by IEW, so you know it's good!
How to Write a Story is a step-by-step guide on how
to start and finish short stories that will make the task simple
for every student and teacher. The book takes you through eight
lessons, each one scripted so that the teacher has hardly any prep
work to do to teach it. Each lesson starts with a student objective
and a teacher objective, showing you right up front what to expect
out of each lesson. The lessons are broken down into steps, and
each step is explicitly explained so that no questions are left
to the imagination. Familiar examples illustrate each step, making
the concepts come to life. The lesson ends with a handout for the
teacher and student to guide them through the process taught in
that lesson. Lessons begin with a review and end with a summary,
emphasizing the key points that must be remembered to build a well-crafted
The book begins with an overview of what is necessary to write
a good story: the three "O's"--Objective (the set-up, situation,
and character), Obstacles (a crisis blocking the objective), and
Outcome (the character's efforts to overcome the obstacles and
reach the objective). Each of those is further broken down in the
introduction, helping the teacher to understand and explain each
After the introduction, the lessons begin. Lesson One deals with "Ideas." Lesson
Two is "Story Building," introducing the three-part structure of
the story. Lesson Three is "Developing the Story's Beginning," introducing
the main character, describing the situation, outlining the problem,
showing the motivation that drives the character in the story,
providing the objective and viewpoint, painting the setting, introducing
the adversary and the other characters, showing the conflict or
tension, hinting at the obstacles, adding suspense with risks,
tying the story around a theme or moral, demonstrating the decision
the character makes, and asking the right story question. Lesson
Four is about the "Obstacles Building Tension in the Middle of
the Story." In this section of the story, the plot leads to a crisis.
Lesson Five discusses the "Outcome: Bringing a Story to an Exciting
Ending." It teaches the three C's of the ending of the story--Crisis,
Climax, and Conclusion. Lesson Six is on the development of characters.
Lesson Seven is on developing the plot. Lesson Eight is on developing
scenes that put live action into a dead page. The conclusion wraps
up the lessons with some commitments on both the student's and
teacher's part in striving for success.
A teacher's guide is also included that shows possible answers
for the student worksheets. This helps the teacher in assessing
the student's answers and ensuring that the answers are leading
to a successful conclusion.
I highly recommend this resource for any homeschooler teaching
story writing to their students. It can be used independently from
other IEW resources, so it is not necessary to purchase the other
IEW materials before using this helpful guidebook. The author writes
in a very personable and friendly style and requests direct communication
at the end of the book from students who have successfully used
this method to write stories. Mr. Roddy himself is the author of
many, many short stories and novels, including The Life and
Times of Grizzly Adams, which was made into a TV series.
He recently had his 90 th birthday but is still writing and building
dreams in young writers.