Who hasn't picked up an old black and white photograph of strangers and wondered about the people in it and what could have been taking place? Students have the opportunity to do just that using a photograph as inspiration for their story. Students learn, just like detectives, they have to pay attention to details around them. They can use these details as well as their own memories and life experiences. Students work on creating a strong conflict and using dialogue to help develop their character's personality. Middle school students take a closer at events taking place in their story and how the characters may react. Students learn the importance of editing and revision and how going back to add those all important details only makes their story stronger. Middle school students editing will include expanding the conflict of the story. If teachers would like certain elements of writing stressed, the writer can spend more time on them.
Diane has written several creative nonfiction books for children including Side By Side, a story about jazz musicians Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, which was a finalist in the 2017 Best Book Awards. “Called Home”, a short story about two Vietnam-Era Marines from Raleigh, was a finalist in the 2017 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition. While working with young writers, Diane strives to take the anxiety out of writing. She explains the writing process covered in class is the same that she uses in her own writing. For instance, she shows students a long roll of edited sheets from one of her stories to emphasize the value of editing and rewriting. There is nothing she enjoys more than seeing the smile on a young writer’s face proudly reading their story.