I did several sessions with Grade Eight students. Towards the end of my first session, I asked students to imagine a pair of characters who are real opposites or "foils." (That's what the students are working on in the photo I've posted.) A student named Alexia came up with an interesting pair of characters: a shy creative girl sitting in a park, drawing, and a snooty, popular girl named Amber. Now Alexia has to figure out how her two characters will meet. Once she does that, she will be well on her way to inventing a story.
I love learning cool names. My vote for coolest name today goes to a student named Luckie. Luckie told me she has two older brothers. When she was born, the first word her mom said was, "Lucky!" and that's how Luckie got her name (though her parents changed the spelling a little as you have probably noticed).
A student named Evy stayed after my talk to ask for some writing advice. What should she do, Evie wanted to know, when she loses steam on a story and feels what she described as, "obligated to continue"? I told Evie she sounds like a real writer -- and that I think she has two choices: she can put her story away for a bit and start something new, or she can start a new story altogether... and get back to the first one when she feels more ready to tackle it. Either way, Evie needs to KEEP WRITING!
I had a very special lunch at LaurenHill today -- that's because I was in my friend Andrew Adams's class (look for Mr. Adams in 121 Express!) and his students had something super exciting to show me -- they had made short DVD films of a scene in Chapter 11 of my book, On the Game!!! It was amazing to see the scene I'd written come to life! Andrew had the students work with the part in the book where the protagonist, Yolande, gets a tattoo. In one of the short films, the tattoo artist tells Yolande, "Tell all your friends to come!" I asked the students whether that line was in the book, but apparently it wasn't. They made it up while they were acting out the scene. Now I wish they'd been around when I was writing the book because that line felt like it really belonged there!!
So thanks to all my friends at LaurenHill for making today such a great day, to the kids for being super audiences, for making their wonderful short films, and to Tara Fogel, head of the English department, for organizing today's event!
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Thank you very much for coming to our school. I learned so much and you really inspired to write more. I learned so many new things and Im determined to find the secrets that my family is hiding :P Well. i have more to write but i have to go. Bye for now ;D
Hey Elisa! Thanks for that comment. I'm so glad you are feeling inspired!! It was a busy day, but reading what you wrote has given me a burst of energy! Like I told you guys today, Sunday is my mum's 80th birthday!! On Sunday, it will be exactly 65 years ago that my "Opa" (Dutch for grandfather) gave my mum the necklace you saw today. And I'm about to make her a birthday cake!! Good luck uncovering those family secrets!
Hello Miss Monique Polak,
I am the girl from Lauren Hill that stayed over after the bell and showed you one of my stories. (Parent Free.) I was very grateful that you had time to read my story and give me tips as well. I know your a very busy woman, but I would be most appreciative if you could reply. I told you about my previous brainstorming. The one with a teenage mother giving birth to her first child in Uganda. This child was adopted by a scientist and a doctor. They brought her to Cananda and she grew up wanting to save many lives from the disease were she came from. I was astonished when you told us you didn't know if you should focus on the nerdy girl or her joker sister. I also am not sure what I should call my main character. I got two african names to choose. Akia: (the fist born) or Ayanna: (a beautiful flower). Ayanna is what I had in mind because the teenage girl's grandmother (in the story is grandmama) says that the baby girl looks like her mother. (Sadly, the teenage mother parents died when she was in a very young age. Her grandmama raised her from there.) Just to let you know the young mother's name is Elon (means God loves me in Africain).
I'm leaping with excitement. I can't wait for your reply. I was not sure if Evy was me in your article about your visiting to Lauren Hill. At first I thought that Eva in my story (Parent Free) confused you with my name.
Well, until another day. Thank you once again for coming.
Have a good evening, Miss Monique Polak.
Thanks for coming to our school today, it was really motivating for me.
I had this book that i had started a long time ago just for fun but eventually i got writters block and decided to put it away for awhile . After our gathering today, i spent the rest of my day trying to figure out a way to make the story grow. I haven't decided what will happen yet but when i finish the story a little bit more, i'll post it here for you to read. Maybe you could even give me some tips. ;D
Bye bye !
thank you for coming to our school and giving us tips about how to write a good story
I hope I read atleast one of your books in the future and I want to become a author just like you
thanks for coming 2day 2 our skool it was very nice 2 see you. thanks for sharing some of ur writings and ideas with us... it was a pleasure to meet u .
i dont usually like to write but ur tips helped alot. and thanks again... byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
sorry i just forgot to ask you a question.. it's non of our bussiness 2 uncover our family's secrets.. but i don't really get why should be.. can u please explain it to me and make it more clear so that i could understand it better
hii i just wanted to start writing a story but can you please help me because I don't know what to write about... can u please give me an idea.. ?
Hello Brendilynn, Luckie, Sabrina, Nani and Steph! How fun to get comments (and questions) from all of you! I love hearing from readers!
Brendilynn, it's great that you are so far along in thinking about your story, and that you have been researching names. All the names sound interesting to me, so it's totally up to you to choose which ones work best for your story.
Nani, you ask a good question about family secrets -- are they our business? For me, uncovering a family secret helped me learn a lot about my family and myself. But I was much much older than you guys are when I began asking about my mum's story -- perhaps you feel your family's secrets really are not your business. If that's the case, stick with your feelings. I only know that for me, I couldn't live without exploring this part of my family's history.
Steph, you ask what to write about... no one can answer that question for you except yourself. All the advice I can give is: decide what things matter most to you. When you figure out the answer, you will be closer to having your story. You could also try imagining a character the way I had you guys do yesterday... perhaps your character will lead to your story. Let me know what happens! Best wishes to all of you from Monique
Hey Monique Polak,
I was one of the students of the first session you had!
I learned many things!
But there was one thing you said about searching secrets about the secrets in the past that clicked in my head.
You made me remember about the time when I was in Italy and my grandfather told me about what he went through.
It sounded like an adventure because he was born during World War II and his father had to go to war. But it was a long time that he did not come back, so they though he died. What actually happened was that my great-grand father remarried and had another 4 children in Germany. So my grandfather wanted to find out if he was actually died so he went to Germany and he went up to his man to find direction. So they went in a cafe and they started to talk. My grandfather then realized that he was talking to his father but he never said that he was his son. The man (my great-grandftaher invited him over at his house to meet his family but he never went)... That was just a brief paragraph to what actually happened!
I do not know what to do because I dont want this great story to disappear. I want that my future generations to hear this amazing story!
Hello Ms. Monique,
Thank you for answering me. I was so glad that you replied and that shows how you appreciate the comment. I was busy this weekend talking to my father. I talked to him about the stories I'VE written and he brought up a good one. He asked if I could right a book about my grandparents. Grandparents? That's what I thought at first, but i found a secret that got me brainstorming ideas already and forgeting that I have others to finish. I guess you were right. There is a secret in every family. I wish you good luck on your stories and I'll be reading the next books for teens when I get one.
From little futur author, Brenda
Hello hello Steph, and Anthony and future author Brenda!
Great to get your messages. Anthony, I LOVE that story. It will not disappear if you continue to do the research, takes lots of notes and start writing it up when you are ready.
Brenda, I am totally into grandparents-stories. I loved my grandparents so so much. Though they have been dead for many years, I feel in many ways like they are still with me, even now when I'm sitting at the computer!
Gotta go and do a little writing. Stay in touch, okay?!
omggggg i like ur story anthonyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy very cool but why didnt he tell him that he was his son ?
How do u know wht to name ur characters. When u name ur characters the names r unusual. What I mean by that is names that r not common like yolande and madame lalonde
p.s I like unusual names .
p.p.s. i love ur book flip turn, its like the best book ever.
p.p.p.s. maybe u should write another book like that cuz it was the BEST!!!
p.p.p.p.s Thanx for visiting our school. It waz a pleasre for u to be there.
Thanks for the inspirational speech you gave us at laurenhill.
It really motivated me to continue my story, it's still far from done, but I've gotten somewhere.
Hey Monique! It's Alexia
I just wanted to thank you for mentioning me in your blog... It's really sweet.
I also wanted to inform you that I did in fact continue my story and when I'm done with it, I'd like to send it to you, if that's alright. I like to hear constructive criticism. When you came to our school, I made sure to write every possible tip down, as you saw. They really really helped. So, thank you for that, too!
Thank you for repying me. No wondrer people love writing to you. I do because I get to contact an autheo and ask for tips and see what opinion they have on my work. I know reading our commets could help you in your writing work too. Well, I guess it works both words. Thank you once again.