Tip ~ INKAS ~ #1.1

I’d like to expand upon my first INKAS post.

There are, roughly, twenty INKAS our group created. Over time, I will try to cover all of them, sharing with you what our students discovered.

Since I was working with writers in grades 3 through 8, the explanations I’ll use have been directed at kids. But, the advice still applies, and I count on you to ‘upgrade’ the tip to your own level.

 

ShortStryNu

 

Our INKAS were divided into groups. The first group consisted of stories we classified as ‘Words that Tell’; words that tell a story. This group of INKAS includes Short Story, Children’s Story, and Children’s Story with Illustrations. (I’ll elaborate on the Children’s Story categories in the future.)

We all pretty much know what a short story looks like, but the INKA will help you remember what a reader expects to find in one.

Remember the best story you ever read? Think about why you liked it. It probably had dialogue, or conversation. It’s much more interesting to ‘hear’ the characters speaking for themselves than to read about that they said. Many exciting stories start out with dialogue. What would you write for a story that started out with this line?

“Hey! Stop!”

A story will usually have action, and description, too, to let the reader know what people and places look like.

It may sound funny, but a writer needs to make sure their story has a strong beginning, a sturdy middle, and a definite ending. Some new writers lose steam after starting out, and they simply stop writing.  A good story has something definite to say, and it stops only when it has said it.

What else makes a good story? What helps it capture your imagination and keeps you reading? One answer: when you can care about the characters. And a reader only will care about the characters if the writer cares about them first.

Whatever happens in your story, whether it is full of action or full of internal thoughts and reflection, the characters should grow and change; something should happen in their lives that is important to them.

Finally, whenever you write, write what is  in your heart. Write about something that you care about. Write with passion ! You will enjoy the writing more. You will stay engaged with the story, and you will keep your reader engaged, too.

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Tip ~ INKAS~ #1

INKAS ?   What are INKAS?

INKAS are a tool I created while working with a school writing club. We discussed what makes up a good story (or poem, or essay, etc), and then jotted down our thoughts.

We came up with INKAS for the 20 categories of writing we studied. Each INKA lists the characteristics of the type of writing named on the box.  The image illustrates the definition of INKAS.

 

inkasImage

 

A recent discussion at our writing group showed me that some new writers don’t know (and some experienced writers lose sight of) the basic characteristics of the kinds of writing we do. So I have resurrected INKAS to help with that understanding. We begin with Short Story.

Short Story   –  typical length: 1500 words

  1. Has a complete beginning, middle, and end; is long enough to tell the whole story

May be aimed at any age

  1. May be based on truth, but is usually made up

May have dialogue in it (use proper quotations marks and paragraphing)

  1. Uses description and active words (verbs); remember the 5 senses

 

and a short story

… tells the reader about something

…has events that are important to the main character and that make the reader care.

…is written economically; every word counts

Tip

3 Basic Rules for Starting New Paragraphs

Okay, so you want to write – a book, a story, an essay – whatever you want to write. But you have ZERO experience.  

You know pages have words on them, and they seem to be broken up into patterns called paragraphs, but how do you know when to do that? Here are the beginning rules. Use them to get started writing your work the way it should be written.

 

  1.  Begin a new paragraph whenever you change speaker.

This means, in dialogue, one person says something, then another one says something.

Each time this happens, each time the speaker changes, they get a new paragraph all to themselves, and their spoken words are contained in quote marks (BONUS tip there)

 

  1. Begin a new paragraph whenever you change topic.

You begin your essay by describing the outside of your house. Then you want to move on to describing the inside of it. Make a new paragraph for the inside description. When you want to describe what the back yard looks like, that is another new paragraph.

 

  1. Begin a new paragraph when it feels like one is needed.

This can be for a pause, a change of direction in the action, or just to change theme or thought, much like a change of topic.

You may have spent some time describing how you felt when the ambulance arrived. Then the EMT has you move into the ambulance, and you need to describe how you felt – maybe more physically than emotionally -, and what the inside of the ambulance looked like.

The arrival is one paragraph, the move into the ambulance is a second, and the description of the interior is a third.

 

Most of all, watch for these things in your reading. As you identify them in what you read, it will be easier for you to remember to use them in your writing.