Bonnie Zelenak

Enjoy the Journey

Show Them You Love Them. Writing With Children

girl at sunset

Hi folks, today I’d like to introduce you to a member of my family, my beautiful granddaughter Corey. Corey loves nature. She’s athletic, sweet, strong-willed, and is interested in many aspects of the world that surrounds her.

One afternoon, after finding, photographing, and playing with a cricket in the garden out front, Corey grabbed my hand and said, “Nanna, let’s write a book.” She yanked me up the stairs and into my study, where we sat down at my desk and began. She dictated. I typed. She imagined and wrote her first book in a little under an hour.

Corey is eight years old. I’m many times her age, have been writing fiction for several years, and think her book holds together exactly as it should. Corey’s story has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. She “dashed” it off after playing outside one morning, and is excited to share it with you.

I am Corey’s stenographer. I love her story and her characters. There’s a naïve protagonist named Cricket Hop, and a life-threatening antagonist, a carnivorous katydid. Cricket Hop’s goal is to see her friends and have fun. She travels to the lake and admires some cool leaves along the way. But one pretty leaf turns out to be a katydid, her enemy in disguise.

Cricket Hop runs, afraid that the katydid will eat her. (Further research informed us that katydids are only carnivorous if they’re from the tropics, but the story remains in its original form.) Cricket Hop gets away, nears her destination, and falls into another life-threatening obstacle. Quicksand. She pushes and pulls and gets out. Phew! Arriving at the lake, she shares her story with her friends and then they play.

Corey captures a high level of tension while keeping the story’s goal in mind. She describes the setting well and includes dialogue. She has a hook at the beginning and a satisfying resolution. Her story is ten pages long, and she’s happy with it.

Why was it so fun to write this story together? Because we were living in “the moment.” Corey wanted to write a story, and she wanted my help, but more than anything, she wanted my company. I set aside everything else and devoted my attention to her. Being able to respond, to connect like that, is a precious opportunity. Such moments don’t happen every day.

The experience felt like a helping of pure love. Corey had the interest. I had the time, and we experienced a fun connection. What grandmother wouldn’t want that?

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

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