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I love hearing from teachers and parents and am thrilled when I hear how excited many kids are to read my books. It seems like Minecraft and my characters, especially Gameknight999, has ignited some excitement amongst students about reading and writing.

I’ve heard from many teachers and parents about how my books are getting reluctant readers, especially middle-grade boys, to read again. We all know about the statistics of reading literacy with boys when they enter into middle school. You’d think they all became suddenly allergic to the library.

One of the really surprising things about my books is that kids, especially boys, are excited about reading my Minecraft novels. This has opened a door for teachers and parents to get kids off the computer games and into a book. And the irony of it is that the books are about a computer game! Watch this boy when he gets the next book, https://youtu.be/Z-yuXEPLS78.

I would love to talk with any teacher or parent out there about how we could use my books to get more kids to read. As a past educator, I know the importance of good reading skills and would love to help if possible.

If you’re interested in discussing this, I can easily be contacted through my website. Just send me an email, I answer every one, but please be careful with spelling your email address. Now and then I get a message that I cannot answer because the reader mistyped their email address, so please be careful. I answer every email I receive, personally.

An added bonus I’ve received with publishing all these books is that I receive many stories from kids every week. Because these kids know a lot about Minecraft, many of them feel confident about creating their own stories... which is fantastic!

If you go to the BLOG tab on my website, you can see all the stories that I’ve received from kids over the past couple of years as well as their artwork. This has been very exciting, seeing the creativity of young kids blossoming as they send in story after story. There are even a couple of kids in the process of self-publishing their books online... WOW!

After writing nearly 20 novels and reading countless books of plot construction, character development, scene design, setting, dialogue... I’ve come to learn a few things about writing. I have broken these learnings into bite-sized pieces that are digestible for kids, then put them together in a set of workshop materials that I will be sharing with you as we move forward in this TopShelf Kids journey together.

The materials we will be discussing in issues to come have been workshop and teacher-tested, and have been received very positively. I hope that educators and parents will use these materials with their children, inspiring them to write and send me their stories so I can post them on my website. The stories don’t need to be about Minecraft; they can be about anything. I just want kids to write! What you read translates into how you write. Then, practice, practice, practice!

And finally, preparing yourself as a writer means that you understand how long it will take to write a novel. It depends on your style (i.e., fast and furious or slow and steady), whether you’ll be able to write every day, how much description you will include, and whether your novel will be long and complicated like War and Peace, or short and easy like Love Story. A typical novel is between 80K and 100K words but can be as few as 40K or as much as 250K. If that scares you, look at it this way. Write a thousand words a day and your novel will be finished in 3 months.

I’ve spoken with many kids about Minecraft, no big surprise, but I’ve also spoken with them about writing their own stories. A couple of things emerge as constant themes:

Kids want to write their own stories.

Kids don’t know how to write their own stories.

So I put together some materials to help them understand the basic elements of a story. When I started writing, I knew nothing about story structure. I just knew I wanted to write. The way I learned about story structure, dialogue, character development, setting... is I started to write. I quickly realized I knew nothing about writing. I purchased lots of how-to books and took a little piece here and a small morsel of insight there. I attended conferences, and I listened to many webinars, learning everything I could.

As I wrote more failed books, I discovered that my writing wasn’t as smelly as it started out; it stunk a lot less, and in fact, sometimes my writing actually smelled pretty good. As the structure of the story began to formulate in the back of my mind, I started to see the patterns and the science of writing, and that’s when my books started to become successful.

I have distilled these learnings about the science of writing, and I am excited to share them with you here, in this exciting new TopShelf Kids column designed to encourage children not only to read and write, but also share their thoughts, ideas, and written works with others.

I hope you and your children will join me next time as I dive into the science of how to write a Minecrafter’s adventure novel

 

by Mark Cheverton  (TopShelf Columnist)

Twitter @MarkC_Author / MarkCheverton.com