A “button” is something that happens at the end of a scene that provides closure, a final touch that seals the deal. It can also be called a “tag” and is a final beat that can be used to close out the scene. Buttons create a satisfying ending that takes the scene just that one more notch. It can add a twist, focus our attention on a particular character or goal or theme, or emphasize an emotion.
In First Rule of Climate Club, Fisher Middle School’s new eighth graders get the opportunity to participate in a science class pilot program devoted to climate change. Firestone tells their story through protagonist Mary Kate’s eyes, but uses a slew of different types of communication that creates room for other points of view.
“My books are all an extension of the activism and community organizing in my life. My teaching was also a reflection of that. I take on political/social realities that I would like to see in the world.” –Carrie Firestone
I want to give you a sense of some things to think about as you approach writing a short story. Let’s look at Rocky Callen’s story “They Call Me Hurricane” from Ab(solutely) Normal to see how she approaches the short story form.
Simon Sort of Says is my new favorite middle grade novel, a laugh-aloud story about the sole survivor of a mass school shooting. Did I just put the words laugh aloud and school shooting in the same sentence? I did. And I meant it. This isn’t just a book with a kid with a snarky tone. Or a great voice. This is a book that’s so funny I snorted. Humor and warmth are the undercurrent of this book. Simon and his family deal with events with humor. Simon connects with new friends through jokes and laughter. Ultimately, their connections and their ability to keep laughing helps them in the healing process.
Through a combination of humor, culture, warmth and language, Hernandez uses voice to make his characters unforgettable and his novel hard to put down.
Novels are amalgams. Your experiences. Your friends’ memories. Stuff you’ve read. Stuff you’ve heard about. Be open to it all. Mash up the different elements. The real secret of the secret sauce of novel-writing is that no one knows what goes into it.
But engaging middle school readers requires more than an interesting plot—the characters and their experiences must feel authentic to and reflective of the complicated world in which the readers live.
interview by Erin Nuttall The thing I love most about Martha Brockenbrough’s writing is that she is unafraid. Yes, she’s imaginative, funny, thoughtful, and precise which all make her stories a joy to read, but to write bravely is a skill that few have and put Martha’s work on another plane. She slides easily between […]
For me, story comes first, unbounded by requirements that might inhibit my creative process. I write my first draft, and in revision I assess if it has possible classroom connections.