25 June 2019

Swamp Monsters and Uncle Bob—The Key to Fun Summer Writing with Your Kids!



My name is Culliver Crantz. I’m the creator of the middle grade book series FrightVision and I’m hopeful that I can encourage your kids to write more. It’s the ultimate way for them to express themselves. It lets loose their incredible imaginations. Creative writing can help kids solve problems, spark creativity, and even boost their self-confidence! 

Let your kids tell stories. Sure, some of them won’t make sense, but let them roll with it. Let them have fun! But if you want to rein them in and give them some advice, here are some tips (and an actual example) from school events that I’ve done.

First, talk with them about how you create a story. Ask them things like: what do you need to write a story? They’ll give you a bunch of answers and you can write them down as they rattle off ideas. Here are some key answers that you want them to say: a character, a setting, a story (conflict, resolution, etc.), an ending, a title, and then my favorite: a twist!

I’m all about the twist. This will be fun for them! A twist is a way to take your normal story and flip it on its head. Teaching them how to write a good twist will make their stories so enjoyable (for both of you!).

When you help them create the story, you want to almost make it like Mad Libs. Who are your characters? Tell me about them. When they give you some answers, ask them more questions such as: What happens to those characters? Why does that happen? Now try to connect it.

Press them further by asking:  if this happened to your character, what would be something good or bad that could come out of it? Keep asking questions; it will get their minds turning. Ultimately, you’re trying to create a 3 sentence story with your child so that they get really excited, and expand this story starter.

For example: I’ve heard kids yell out everything you can imagine for characters, from a swamp monster to Uncle Bob; you truly never know what response you’re going to get. Let’s say your child picks a swamp monster as the main character. You might follow up by asking: well tell me about the swamp monster …It’s afraid of garbage.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. A great question from here is how can we put the swamp monster in a situation where it has to overcome its fear of garbage?
How about this: So the swamp monster lives in a swamp that is becoming overrun by garbage. The monster doesn’t know what to do because it’s afraid of garbage.

Now what?

This is a great time to ask more questions. Who’s putting the garbage in the swamp? Uncle Bob. Ok then!

So now, how can we end this? There has to be a way to use what we have to create a twist and come out on top. What if Uncle Bob hired someone to throw the trash into the swamp? What if that person could befriend your swamp monster? Then the possibilities are endless. But first, how about one more twist? Maybe the person Uncle Bob hires is afraid of … yes, you guessed it, swamp monsters.
 
So now we have: There’s a swamp monster that lives in a swamp being overrun by garbage because of Uncle Bob. The swamp monster is afraid of garbage and unsure of what to do, until he meets ______ (the person Uncle Bob hired to dump garbage in the swamp) who is afraid of swamp monsters. Each of the characters must conquer their own fears to save the swamp.

Now you have something! And your child could then write for hours about all the in-betweens. Who is this person who works with Uncle Bob and how could they be connected to the swamp monster? Is Uncle Bob a swamp monster? If not, how is he related to one? Where is the swamp? Are there other animals in the swamp that know the swamp monster? If so, describe them. 

And there you have it; you could do this repeatedly over the summer and get different stories each time. It’s such a fun and quick exercise for you to help your kids learn to write exciting stories that you might enjoy too!

Thanks for reading … if you or your kids like spooky stuff, check out the middle grade book series, FrightVision. It’s a Goosebumps meets Stranger Things type series with all different characters. You can find out more about it and order books at www.frightvisionbooks.com or find it on Facebook or Instagram: @FrightVisionBooks.

-Crantz 



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