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"The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from – more than what you tell them. They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."

Jim Henson

Develop Stories

For this section of the STORYMAKING HUB, we offer a three-tiered approach to help children learn how to develop their own stories. In Writing Collaborations, you can find useful information about kids and adults from around the world that have developed, written, and published books.

Writing Collaborations

“People often ask how I was able to write Eragon at the age of fifteen. Well, the credit has to go to my parents, especially my mom, Talita . . . .”

Christopher Paolini, author of The Inheritance Cycle

Eragon Example

There’s a long history of parents and grandparents collaborating with kids to write books. The engagement ranges from adult writers eliciting feedback from children…to co-development..to co-writing.

Family Writing Collaboration

Talita Paolini homeschooled her son Christopher in their Montana home teaching him with the same activity- and writing-based principles she used as a Montessori teacher. He wrote much of Eragon, his first epic fantasy novel in The Inheritance Cycle, while he was 15 to 17 years old. 

 

Christopher’s parents supported their son’s writing mission. They helped with editing, dedicated limited resources to self-publish the book, and promoted the book around the country at schools, book stores, fairs, etc.

All is Lost Moment

Like heroes in an adventure novel, the Paolini family reached the critical point of their family journey as they began to run out of funds.

Fortunately, the son of a well-known urban fantasy author, Carl Hiaasen, came across Eragon while on vacation in Montana. His father convinced his publisher to handle Eragon. By the age of 19, Christopher Paolini became a top NY Times bestselling author…and Carl shifted to writing kids’ books!

 

I used the Eragon book and movie as my grandson Brady and I co-developed our own epic fantasy adventure for middle school readers. Fascinated by Saphira in Eragon, Brady wanted our dragons to be good guys.

Homeschool Movement

Remaining active in the homeschool movement, Talita has developed a website and books to help parents and grandparents as they work hands-on with children like she had done with her son Christopher and daughter Angela.

Rachel Renee Russell is another inspiring example of a parent working with kids—in her case, daughters Nikki and Erin. 


Rachel based the initial Dork Diaries on her daughters’ challenges in middle school. As the series progressed, Nikki and Erin joined their mother in co-writing subsequent books as well as The Adventures of Max Crumbly.

Free downloadable materials on creative writing:

Getting Started (Level 1)

 offers fun activities and projects for you to engage with your child(ren). For example, there are Imaginary Trips where a kid can fill in the blanks for an existing story framework. Additionally, there are Project Guides whereby families can work on a simple project together,, like pretending to be a film critic and reviewing movies or TV shows.

Activity Worksheets

  • Organized by age group

  • Easy-to-follow descriptions

Project Guides

Simple, intermediate, and advanced levels of engagement

On The Move (Level 2)

The children, who want to create their own stories, can go to the next level with Adventures in Storymaking, using our characters, setting, and plotting to complete stories.

Worldbuilding (Level 3)

In Level 3, children have the opportunity to use principles from our elementary and middle school fantasies—starting with Dragon & Dinosaur Chronicles—to build more complex stories from scratch. Besides overviews in our STORYMAKING HUB, we also provide a free PDF that goes into more detail for parents and grandparents: Building Fantasy Worlds with Your Kids. We’re also developing a workbook called Young Fantasy World Builders, using examples from Star Life Keepers to help kids and young adults to develop their own fantasy and science fiction worlds.

I’ll also share views from what I’m reading, such as the small but very significant, Worldbuilding: From Small Towns to Entire Universes, which Kevin J. Anderson wrote and self-published. Kevin is a prolific sci-fi/fantasy author who has used dictation to produce more than 120 traditionally published books, including projects with Star Wars, Dune, and X-Files

Kevin was a personal friend of Neal Peart, the deceased drummer for the rock band Rush. Neil was known as one of the great lyricists of our generation and co-wrote a fantasy series with Kevin based on Rush albums. Clockwork Angels, Clockwork Lives, and Clockwork Destiny are three of my favorite fantasy books!

Building Fantasy World with Kids

"Owning things of value is secondary to creating things of value where none once existed."

Brandon Sanderson, Shadows of Self

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson has played a key role in my writing-with-grandkids adventure. I read many of his series—e.g., The Way of Kings, Mistborn, Wax & Wayne, and Skyward—and listened to his podcasts to better understand fantasy worldbuilding. In his YouTube training sessions, Sanderson shares details about creating his fantasy books.

My approach to midgrade books took an unexpected turn when I introduced Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series—which he wrote with input from his young sons—to Brady when he was ten years of age. 

 

Brady sent me the following text on 8:57 PM on January 8, 2021 

Text: “I finished the 1st book of Evil Librarians!!! I am so happy ☺”

Sanderson’s abundant illustrations, tied to the text, made it easier for Brady to transition from humor books to a text-driven novel.


Brady’s reading accomplishment inspired me to add illustrations and maps to Star Life Keepers.

  • Characters & Creatures

  • Time & Place

  • Everyday Life

  • Spirituality & Magic Systems

  • Science & Technology

  • Warfare

Examples of Worldbuilding

Here is the model we follow in creating the Dragon & Dinosaur Chronicles world along with some examples.

Kids & Dogs

Brady wanted to include a dog in Dragon & Dinosaur Chronicles based on Max, my Golden Retriever.

 

So, we created Max the Wolfhound, which the midgrade beta readers asked us to put in more scenes.

Fun Stuff

As you sign up for our newsletters, you’ll receive PDFs about our creative processes, a free chapter from Star Life Keepers about the attack of a flying raptor, etc.

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