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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Tools: Outline Patterns

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“But the truly creative researcher is the one who asks not only what happened, but what does it mean? Not only how did it happen, but how does it effect other things? Jane Yolen

Do you notice the potential outline in the above quote? Her four questions could easily become a pattern, especially for science related articles or any other discovery subject.

If you are considering writing a series of articles or blogs or a book, then taking a look at setting up a pattern outline could help your focus, your research, and your style.

If you are writing subjects that include photographs or diagrams or instructions then a base pattern can increase the readability and interest.

Examine the best way to highlight the suspense, the unity, and the coherence. Even if your article is only a few sentences like this next sample.

Here’s an example from National Geographic Little Kids, December 2010, by author Lisa Husar. This excerpt is from a five-paragraph article that has matching photos for each statement. She introduces her topic in the title. Wintertime for Ermines.

So that gives immediate curiosity for this age group. What is an ermine? What happens in winter?

An ermine is a small animal that lives where winters are cold and snowy.

Note two words that the young reader can immediately identify with: small and cold. And, depending on where they live, snowy can either be familiar or a new concept.

Its white winter coat helps the ermine hide in the snow.

I expect the young reader is giggling now at the idea of hide and seek.

Ermines often tunnel through snow. They catch smaller animals to eat.

The first sentence connects the reader to playing and forts. The second might be yucky or upsetting or confusing and opens up the possibility of conversation to understand.

The author’s remaining two-sentence paragraphs move towards what happens next, engaging the reader’s curiosity again at the closure.

There are several facts in this short piece but instead of being dull and dry it engages the readers interest. She connects the facts and new vocabulary words to the reader’s ability to follow the details personally. And she answered the unspoken question she raised in the title.

This would be a very useful pattern to follow if she decided to do a whole series on different animals in winter.

Consider which of the questions Jane Yolen raises in the opening quote most applies to your topic and then set it up as your key introduction. Then work a pattern that will keep the tension and interest for your age audience.

Action Steps:

1.     From the brainstorm you did last week pick out your underlined words or concepts and see if they might fit the foundation of a pattern.

2.     Which ones create curiosity?

3.     Which ones build tension?

4.     Rearrange them in different ways to see what kind of flow works best for your purpose.

Share: Did anything new surprise you as a possibility?

Read deep, marcy

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