A few years ago, while working with students to create real and believable characters, I came up with an idea for forming a short story contest at our school. The contest involved creating a piece of flash fiction, no longer than a page.
Students were asking how to develop a character and a story in such a short space, so we began going over the ever-so-practiced Show, Not Tell exercise, where all the writers involved attempted to show or imply as much about a character as possible without explicitly stating the facts through boring sentences.
How an idea matures…
Students began to grow their own ideas into longer works, editing them and revising them throughout the year as part of an ongoing writing project. Many of the kids thirsted for fun wordplay, and soon after, I began asking myself why I hadn’t written more in my spare time.
As a result, I began the 40 Scenes in 40 Days project on Paper Palaces. Much to my embarrassment, it didn’t last that long, as I had no complete story to motivate my writing – just scenes. This all changed when one of my students asked me a question a few weeks later, “Whatever happened to Aurelia and the Crystal Dagger?”
He looked at me with wide eyes.
“That was just a scene I did in class to show you a couple tricks,” I said. He gave me a look that only the most serious of middle schoolers could give. It communicated the same feeling as when students begged for no homework or hope for longer summer afternoons.
“You should make it a story,” he said.
I went home that weekend, and after drinking several cups of coffee, thought why not? It was then that I had an idea which grew over the course of two years. I mapped out nine novels for a young adult fantasy series, under the working title A Thousand Watchful Eyes. This is my most current project, and I have never felt more thrilled to create as I do now.
What does this mean for the Paper Palaces blog?
From this day forward, this means that Paper Palaces will continue to have book reviews, opinion pieces, teacher-related content, and fiction, but the largest difference will be this:
Paper Palaces is now a home for A Thousand Watchful Eyes. With every step of my journey toward publication, I plan to build a readership that is vast and diverse, proving to my students that there are so many types of people in the world that value reading and writing – not just teachers!
Are you working on a project? What is it?
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