Imagine you are an alien from another planet and you travel to earth. You see kids playing basketball. How would you describe it? You taste a cheese sandwich. How would you describe that?
I gave West fifth graders the following challenge: choose an object and then describe it as if you are an alien writing about it in a postcard that you are sending back home to Mars. Dear Mom, You’ll never believe what I saw here on Earth . . .
Thinking like an alien can be a good way to exercise your skill at describing something. Often when we write, we come up with some good description, but we simply don’t provide enough details to help the reader to really imagine it.
After the exercise, I shared two examples from the novel I’m currently working on. Each example showed my first draft and then my revision. The details I added in my revision made a big difference and helped the writing to feel alive.
My West Education Campus Fifth Grade Writing Residency is supported by An Open Book Foundation. I’ll be posting a once-per-month essay about the experience between December 2020 and May 2021. See the other posts in this series.