Book Camp Life

Book Camp 2016, Day 4

“Is anyone ready to come in and shower?”

“NOOOOO!” Their five voices far surpassed mine.

The poor dears have had precious little screen time this week, aside from about a movie a day. But games! Texts! Videos! Whatever shall we do?!

They worked a long afternoon on plot structure using the five-act model. We dug into what constitutes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement (their new favorite word – so cosmopolitan!). We also discussed the corollary with the three-act structure, using the inciting incident or catalyst as the end of the first act and the final suspense as the end of the second act. It looked like this:

We used the gorgeously illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (much thanks, Jo Rowling and Jim Kay!) to break down the story into these two structures. We read portions of it, though we have all read the book in the past. We discussed and defined when we think the book breaks up the acts.

We also discussed that the graph will look different for different books, because the stages aren’t fixed but variable. We looked at the downsides to deciding things like, “I’ll write four chapters then the inciting incident then fourteen chapters for the rising action.” We prepared to loosely determine a few points on the graphs for each of our own stories before diving into writing, knowing that the graph will morph and that’s a good thing.

When we finished, the clock read 5:35. I proffered a deal: I’ll cut a watermelon and they go outside to play in the water, then I’ll make dinner and they can come in to shower and have dinner and screens until bedtime. Fastest deal ever! I barely got them smeared with sunscreen before they were out the door. I took them their watermelon and a vitamin B6 tablet each (to ward off mosquitos).

When I went out just before seven, I asked the question at the top of this post. The giggled as only 8-, 9-, and 11-year-olds can and shooed me away with some verbal force. In the calming light of an early summer evening, they forgot all about their screens in favor of a water hose and brothers/sisters/cousins.

Some moments have been thorny, as only 8-, 9-, and 11-year-olds can be. But I’ve got the best job ever. You see, many long years from now, they won’t remember who took the best pencil or who shot who with the water gun first. Nope. They’ll gild this experience in their memories and it will morph into something greater, smoother, cleaner, and brighter than reality. That’s storytelling magic and mom/aunt gold.

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