Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Favorite Leslie Moment

When my eldest was very young, she liked to write stories. Stories about princesses . . . and horses . . . and orphans . . . and orphaned princesses with their horses . . . you get the idea. The typical little girl stuff. They were sweet, and I enjoyed reading them. For a while. Frankly, after a couple hundred of these masterpieces, they were getting a little old.

Eventually, as she kept asking how I liked them (and I always try to be honest with my kids), I started encouraging her to beef up her stories with a little more description. They were all plot, straightforward and plodding. "She did this, and then this, and then this happened, and then this . . " I suggested, maybe you should put some dialogue in, a conversation between the princess and her father? Maybe instead of just telling us she's beautiful, you could show us she's beautiful by the way others react to her? Showing instead of telling. It's good storytelling technique. "No," she would say, "I like it this way." Okee, then.

I continued with the showing-not-telling theme in homeschool. I gave her writing exercises about it. I pointed out when an author did it in stories we read. I specifically told her to do it in rewrites of stories I assigned her. But my excellent instruction seemed to be going in one ear and out the other. And she was kind of over her story-writing faze by now anyway.

Then one Saturday morning, she woke me up to ask me if she could get on the computer and write a novel. A novel. What am I going to say -- no? A couple hours later, she called me in and asked if I wanted to read her first four chapters. Four chapters . . . I groaned inwardly. But outwardly, I smiled and braced myself.

But oh, my goodness . . this was a story! Real characters, with real personalities, having conversations, and a building plotline -- I mean, I was floored! It was really good! And I told her so. "I especially love this part," I said, "where the brother and sister are talking."

"Yeah," she replied, "I didn't want to just tell you that she thought he was annoying, so I tried to show you."

BINGO!!!!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!! I spun around in the computer chair revelling in the moment. Ah, the glory of it all, when your persistence is rewarded.

Leslie's going to school full-time this fall, and it has just recently hit me how much I'm going to miss those moments. How much I'm going to miss her. I'm SO glad we decided to homeschool. I love my girls.

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