Saturday, November 8, 2008


I always wonder about writing books aimed at a child/teen audience because honestly, I just don't know that many kids that would read them. I know there ARE lots of kids who love to write, write of their own volition, dream of being writers one day…but I simply don't meet that many of those kids. Maybe one or two a year…

Even so, I keep  reading books in this genre. I like owning books about writing. I learn things that help ME as a writer. I hope that maybe I will meet a kid who would enjoy the book. SEIZE THE STORY, one of the CYBILS nominees, is my newest acquisition. 

SEIZE THE STORY is written by Colorado author, Victoria Hanley. The book is basically divided into two chunks- the first eleven chapters talk about various aspects of writing: developing character and setting, writing dialogue, conflict, showing and telling. Each chapter opens with several really nice quotes from famous authors, (e.g. "Better to write for your self and have no public, than to write for your public and have no self.,  Cyril Connolly). The chapters are broken into short, readable sections. Most sections end with an actual writing "exercise" to try. I have been using the chapter on "Showing, Not Telling," as mini-lessons in a fourth grade classroom this week, and have gotten some really nice stuff from kids. The chapter on conflict taught me some things I can use in my own writing.

I absolutely loved the extensive collection of author interviews. Hanley talked to a list of fifteen fabulous YA authors- people like T.A. Barron, Carolyn Bauer, Chris Crutcher, David Lubar, Laura Resau, and Todd Mitchell (many of these are from Colorado!). She asked them questions like:
  • What is the easiest part of writing?
  • What is the hardest part of writing?
  • What advice do you have for teens who want to be writers?
These 2-3 page interviews would be fun to share with a class as part of an author study, or to include in a author notebook, or to share as writing mini-lessons! Hanley also includes a chapter of questions people have asked her-- How long does it take to write a book? What about symbolism? What kinds of things did people do to encourage/discourage you as a writer when you were growing up? This chapter also gave me lots of things to think about.

Thank you, Victoria Hanley, for sharing your expertise! The next time I meet a teen who loves to write, I will definitely share this book with them, In the meantime, old lady teachers and elementary kids can learn a lot from you! 


Yat-Yee said...

I'm glad you did a review of this wonderful resource. Victoria is a local author here in Fort Collins and I got to meet her and hear her speak a few times.

Sara said...

This book looks great, and I share your addiction to books about writing. Can't have too many!

When I did my very first author visit, I was delighted that the kids in the audience had done a recent unit on writing books. In fact, their books had been displayed in the windows of the bookstore in which I was speaking to them! It put me at ease, because we then could talk "writer to writer" and believe me, we had the same joys and difficulties.

a. fortis said...

This looks great! I'll be featuring this on the Cybils blog later in the week. :)

sexy said...