Friday, June 18, 2010

Spilling Ink: Section 17

Section 17 of Spilling Ink is devoted to endings.  Endings are so difficult! That's why kids love to end with "The End," or "I hope you liked my story," or "I woke up and it was all a dream." 

 Even Emily, who loves, loves, loves to write, rarely finishes her stories.  It's a daunting task.  I've wondered about this before, because the same thing happens with my son, who plays guitar.  He goes online and learns the "hooks" of popular songs, but hardly ever learns one all the way through.  After much pondering (and a bit of worrying), I have come to the conclusion that they will do more on their own when they are developmentally ready to do so.  When the time comes, they will have a plethora of already-ready-to-be-finished pieces to work on. They won't have to start from scratch!

In school, though, when the pressure is on to put the pencil to the paper, it is helpful to give kids ending strategies with which to experiment.  Ellen Mazer gives us a few to choose from:
  • Neat-and-tidy endings-- the character gets what he or she wants 
  • Endings in which the main character does not get what he or she wants, but gets what he or she needs
  • Endings in which the main character does not get what he or she wants or needs -- a.k.a. real life
  • Surprise endings
If you think about it, most books that we read as adults have one of these endings.  The ones that I read and enjoy fall into the latter three categories.  It would be a good idea for us as writing teachers to keep an ongoing chart detailing the endings of books that we read together as a class.  The goal is to get kids to first notice how published authors work, to then care about how they work, and finally to use their work to experiment with work of their own.  Talk about a daunting task!

Steve Peha, over at Teaching That Makes Sense, has a handy list of endings that I've used with kids before.  Click here and go to chapter 10 to get a gander at them.  It is an extensive list, so it could feel very overwhelming to kids.  It's best to pick a few to introduce your students and add on as necessary. 

The section of Spilling Ink, just like the others, is chock full of great advice. 

The end.  I hope you liked my blog post.


  1. Hey Kim, when I got home for lunch today my copy of Spilling Ink had arrived! I am in in service today so I was not able to dive in like I wanted. On another note I have decided to retire and relocate to another school 400 miles away! I really had the best of intentions when I signed on to write daily with you. I have a million things to do to get ready to move by the times school begins in the fall. While I am excited I am also scared half to death. (I am too young to actually retire and I am too much of a workaholic so I am going to continue as a school librarian - in my opinion one of the best jobs in the world.)

  2. Hey! I am excited for you to dig in to your new book AND this fun new chapter in your life! I, too, think you have one of the best jobs in the whole world... I want to be a librarian when I grow up!

    We know where to find each other--let's stay in touch. :-)