Tag Archives: “T. P. Jagger”

Memories-Part 2 (& Book Giveaway!)

A few days ago, I blogged about the important role that memories play in life and in writing. Today, I’d like to spin-off from that and look at a handful of middle-grade novels in which memories—shared, stored, hidden, and lost—play key roles in the stories’ plots.

written in stoneSHARED
Written in Stone by MUFs very own Rosanne Parry: Historical fiction that explores the importance of sharing memories as part of the cultural survival of the Quinault and Makah Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

STORED
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: People’s memories can be drawn from their minds then stored and viewed through the Pensieve. And those stored memories—Dumbledore’s, Snape’s, and others’—hold more than just a few surprises.

rules for stealing starsHIDDEN
Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu: Magic mingles with mystery as 11-year-old Silly (Priscilla) and her three sisters discover their closets are doorways to both dreamscapes and dangers…and to hidden memories of family secrets they never imagined.

LOST
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari: After Charlie’s mother dies, his sister, Imogen, discovers a parallel universe where their mother remains alive. But something’s wrong. And if Charlie doesn’t figure out the truth, he could lose himself, the true memory of their mother, and Imogen…forever.

Dork-Diaries-11Finally, any booklist focused on memories would feel incomplete if it didn’t acknowledge the ultimate recorder of memories—a diary. That’s why MUF (thanks to Simon & Schuster) is giving one lucky commenter a free copy of Rachel Renée Russell’s latest book in the New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series—Dork Diaries 11: Tales from a Not-So-Friendly Frenemy.

Do you have a favorite middle-grade book that fits into this memories-focused booklist? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it . . . and earn a chance to win a free book in the process! (The winner must have a U.S. street address and will be drawn on Saturday, 19 November 2016.)


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

Memories-Part 1

When I realized my MUF post fell on Veterans Day, I immediately thought I’d create a short blurb about the history of the day and provide a related booklist. Then two things happened. The first thing was that I sifted through MUF’s old posts. Jennifer Swanson beat me to my Veterans Day idea by three years. The second thing that happened was I thought about my grandpa.

1943 US Marine-WWII VeteranMy Grandpa Jagger served in the United States Marines during WWII. He drove a tank and was injured on a battered and bloody beach during the invasion of Saipan in 1944, earning a Purple Heart. Over 60 years later, I sat beside his chair, rested my hand in his, and listened as he shared about his military service.

Up until that day, I hadn’t allowed myself to consider that my grandfather held memories I would lose when he was gone. The only memories that wouldn’t fade would be those held by others. In that moment, I realized I wanted more than my memories of him; I wanted his memories, too. But those memories would soon be grains of sand swept to sea by the tides of time.

Unless I allowed myself to slow down and engage. To listen. To be present.

So that’s what I did.

Today, Veterans Day is the tide that carries those memories back to me, and I find myself reflecting on how my need to engage in the present also applies to my efforts as a writer.

In my fiction, it’s easy to get caught up and swept away in the “reality” of my own creation. However, even a fictional world and characters and events must feel real. They must ring true. To achieve that, I can’t allow myself to get lost in my own mind and musings. I need to pull memories and details and emotions from the very real world around me. I must be a participant in the world and an observer. A giver of truths and a collector. A sharer of memories and a gatherer.

I must take the time to slow down and engage. To listen. To be present.

That’s what I learned from my grandpa.

I hope you come back on Monday to read Part 2 of this post—a booklist of middle-grade novels in which memories (shared, stored, hidden, and lost) play key roles. In the meantime, take this Veterans Day to remember and honor the millions of men and women who have served and continue to serve our nation. And take a moment for memories, too.

To share them.

To build them.

To be present.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

Dreams & Beans

The dream I chase is known as BeAnAD [bean-add]. And no, I’m not counting beans. BeAnAD stands for “Being an Author Dude,” and this pursuit has consumed way too many hours of my life to keep track of.

Reading.

Writing.

More reading.

More writing.

A quick break for writer’s cramp.

Then still more writing. And reading.

City of Ember As the years zip by like a Crisco-coated monkey on a Slip-and-Slide,   I perpetually catch myself “reading like a writer.” I’ll stop to admire an   original simile such as this one from Jeanne Duprau’s The City of Ember:

She pressed a finger against the side of Granny’s throat to feel for her pulse, as the doctor had shown her. It was fluttery, like a moth that has hurt itself and is flapping in crooked circles.

 

Or I’ll pluck that tidbit of setting that effectively paints the mood of a scene such as this excerpt from Gary D. Schmidt’s The Wednesday Wars:

I walked home under gray clouds whose undersides had been shredded. They hung in tatters, and a cold mist leaked out of them.

And lately, I’ve given myself some official homework as I study the craft of other writers. I’ve been reading through a variety of children’s books, recording three things for each chapter:

1)      The word-for-word START of the chapter.

2)      A few sentence SUMMARY of the chapter.

3)      The word-for-word END of the chapter.

The Wednesday Wars

For example, I’m currently going through this start-summary-end process with Ivy and Bean, a chapter book by Annie Barrows. My notes look like this:

 Ivy and Bean Chapter One: No Thanks

START: “Before Bean met Ivy, she didn’t like her.”

SUMMARY: Bean’s mom encourages Bean to go play with Ivy, the new girl across the street. Bean doesn’t want to because she’s convinced Ivy is boring.

END: “So for weeks and weeks, Bean didn’t play with Ivy. But one day something happened that changed her mind.”

Chapter Two: Bean Hatches a Plan

START: “It all began because Bean was playing a trick on her older sister.”

. . .

This start-summary-end look at each chapter helps me create a basic outline for the flow of a story and consider how my own writing might be improved. How does the start of a chapter draw me in and make me want to read on? What sort of conflict and/or action (either major or minor) moves the chapter forward? How does the author use the chapter ending to propel me into the next?

So . . . are you looking for a way to give your writing a boost? Read a children’s book with a pad of paper and a pencil in hand, recording a start-summary-end outline as you go. When you’re done, study it. Consider it. Then create a chapter-by-chapter, start-summary-end outline for your own manuscript, looking for opportunities to strengthen your creation.

My BeAnAD dream may not be worth a hill of beans at this point. But hopefully, that will change one day. And when it does, I may have to stop and thank Ivy and Bean for their help along the way.