A couple weeks ago Jill Diamond and I presented a workshop at #NCTE17 on middle grade fiction. It was a thrill to be surrounded by teachers and librarians, our champions for books and reading!
Jill and I created two printable reflection tools that can be used with ANY book, not just ours. The first is a tool to compare and reflect on characters, the second is a tool to internalize the plot of a book by geographically mapping it.
The idea that has stayed with me since presenting, the one I want to try to share here, is that reading and writing are inverse operations, like addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, they flow into and out of each other. The tools of reflection Jill and I created can also become prewriting work for students, helping them to create their own characters and map out their own plots.
These are absolutely activities that authors regularly engage in when cultivating their own stories. I create little dossiers for my characters, I compare them with their friends and to myself to know them more deeply before I write their stories. I draw their portraits and illustrate their rooms. I doodle maps of their neighborhoods and schools. Stories are scrapped together in the accumulation of all those doodles and reflections!