A good author is a good reader!
Do we at ARTiculate have a catchy slogan? If we did, it would probably be the best slogan in the world. But, if I was going to adopt one here and now it might be: "Read. Then go for it!" The importance of reading for an author is difficult to overstate. How can you write convincingly if you've never read a convincing book? Drawing on other people's ideas, being inspired by another's use of language, seeing how a text is structured - all essentials for a budding writer.
When you're working on a short, picture book text where words are effectively sparse, writing your own level-appropriate text as a model for children to be guided by is a really good idea.
And so today, my young trainee authors analysed a model text written by me to use as a model for their own writing. The piece was a written from the viewpoint of The Man: his 'message in a bottle' after his initial encounter with the island and its conflicted inhabitants.
After a quick read through, the group were asked to:
a) summarise the content of each paragraph, making notes to the side of the page. This will then form the structure for their own writing.
b) comb through the text looking for adjectives, adverbs, connectives and other nuts and bolts of a well written text. These were colour-coded.
c) look at how the author engages the reader directly.
This process of text analysis is key to helping less confident writers build a framework to hang their ideas on. Although this might lack the pizzazz to get you an outstanding in an observation (I did not stand on a table during this session. I was tempted, I admit.), it is the solid foundation that supports the imaginative flourishes of a quality finished piece. Moreover, it is the reality of writing for an audience - a key part of an author's work.
After reading the first parts of their initial drafts, this approach is working a treat!