Thursday, March 28, 2013

Author Visit

 S.O.L. #28/31

My students were fortunate enough to visit with an author, Kate Klise, today.  Kate's website intro begins:

"Once upon a time there were two sisters named Kate and Sarah Klise who wanted to make a book. And they did! Or rather, we did."

         Kate and sister create children's books together. Kate writes. Sarah illustrates.  My fourth graders  could really relate to Kate because Kate revealed that she wrote her first book in the 4th grade!  She has written many picture books and children's novels.  During her talk, she shared a few writer's secrets that she has learned along the way.
     We've all heard that standard comparison that  story elements follow the structure of a mountain.  You know,  it begins,  then builds up to a climax and back down again. She claimed her trouble with that organization was  her stories started off boring, followed by more b-o-r-i-n-g,  then really good part, then a little bit more BORING. The end!
      To cure this issue, Kate Klise suggests that writer's use the circular motion of the  hands moving  around a clock when creating their story's plot.   For instance, the story begins at 12:00 on the clock .  To engage the reader's, the character should face the problem immediately (about 1:00).  This problem leads the character along the adventure/quest to solve the problem ( the largest part of the story).  Editors even say that the main character should "suffer" so the readers will empathize with him/her.  About 7:00 on the clock, there should be an OH NO! moment.  When something tragic or shocking happens.  Followed by the Ah Ha! Moment  (around 8:00-9:00) when the character learns something about life or has a chnage of heart or feelings.  Then of course the story has come full circle (by 11:00-12:00) when the problem is solved and all is well.  She even did impromptu story creating following this clock model as a guide and suggestions from the audience of students.   She made it seem so simple and easy!
      The next time I read aloud a picture book I plan to compare the story's structure to her writing model.  I loved these simple suggestions that I can pass on to the writers in my classroom.   I hope my students will attempt to use this as a way to organize their future stories. I know she has already inspired them to be reading more!! Several of my students bought copies of her books and got them autographed.  And there is a mile long waiting list for her books we have in our school library.

Here is a cover from her 43 Old Cemetery Road Series



  1. Love this! Thanks so much for sharing. It makes sense. I'm going to pass your post along to some teacher friends.

  2. Author visits are so inspiring for the kids and the teachers. I love the way she explained the story arc. Thanks for passing it along.

  3. ooh, what a neat visualization for plot! I'm saving this post to use that idea with my ELLs. I've never heard anything but the mountain, and while that works pretty well for understanding stories (and especially for realizing that some stories are a little boring at first, but then they'll get better!), this is great writing advice! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I can't believe I haven't heard of her - will definitely search her out. Great ideas for writing!

  5. Love Sarah and Kate Klise's books. So accessible to all kids, even those who don't really like to read. I love this way of thinking about a story. I've used the mountain with varying degrees of success for several years. Now I want to try this technique myself, then maybe use it with kids. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Cute idea I love the idea of a clock to explain the progression to children!