Writing, like reading, has always been a part of who I am. When I was younger (with time on my hands), I used to write poetry and short stories with every occasion in my life. Whether I was happy or sad, angry or frustrated, writing was my outlet. Writing my thoughts, even if it didn't make sense, helped me get through various phases of growing up. I have encouraged my kids to use writing in the same way, but they don't always see things the way I do : ^ )

My 17yo has always liked to write, but mostly about things that she created, not assignments that were given. With the help of Writing with Sharon Watson, though, I have found a new method to encourage creative writing in our home. As members of the SRC, we were given Sharon's Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories To Life and Writing Fiction in High School: Teacher's Guide for review. This program has helped re-open my daughter's eyes to her love of writing.

Sharon Watson was a fellow homeschooling mom for 18 years. She now teaches high school composition, fiction writingand literature to homeschool students, and offers all-day workshops. She is also the author of Apologia's Jump In curriculum, as well, and you all know how much I like Apologia :^) She created her writing courses to help students that  were "stumbling through school. . . trying to make sense of their writing and literature classes". She wanted to find "ways to make difficult writing tasks and concepts" easier for students to understand (Sharon Watson Biography). 
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Writing Fiction in High School is a wonderful curriculum designed for high school students that love to write but that may need guidance to get started or even to enhance their already written stories. 

It is written in a conversational style, which makes it easy to follow and enjoyable. The student doesn't have to have a dictionary next to them to understand the lessons, which is not always the case with traditional textbooks.

There are 13 chapters that have multiple short lessons. Each lesson is considered a day's lesson. At the end of each, there is a box with "The End of Today's Lesson". This may seem insignificant, but to students that are wired for lesson plans or need to see the end of the tunnel before going through, this can mean a lot. Because each lesson is brief, the student will not feel rushed when completing the assignment, which, again, is not difficult, yet moves the student forward in the quest to write a great story.

For example, in Chapter 2, point of view is being discussed. One of the activities is to write down your first memory. Later in the chapter, there are a few questions to answer based on that memory: "What point of view did you use, How close to that child is your retelling-in the skin or outside looking at yourself, Did you tell it as though you were that age or from the distance of your current age, looking back?" The next step in that lesson is to rewrite your memory using a different point of view. The lesson and assignment seem simple, but could you do it . . . easily? It took me quite a few minutes trying to decide what my first memory is. Even as I write this, I wonder if it's really the first, and was it really my memory or one that I created based on a story that my mom told me. Writing it from different POV's was interesting, too. Being able to step outside of the story and read it as though it were someone else, is fascinating. Although, I think in many ways, we do this throughout our life in different situations, or at least I do. It's a good way to reflect back and learn from the experience, or see how God had His hands in it.

In Writing Fiction in High School, students are encouraged to discuss their writing with others, which helps adds objectivity and find areas that could be tweeked. The curriculum can be used by independent learners, co-ops, writing clubs, and classrooms. It can be easily adapted to meet the needs of your family and students. Sharon does suggest forming a writing group if the curriculum is not being used in a co-op or classroom. This is so that the students can interact with others and "have lively discussions, read or listen to one another's work, and critique one another's work" (Teacher's Guide, pg 1).

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Writing Fiction in High School also has a "Manuscript Track" for students that already have short stories or manuscripts written. In many of the lessons, there are extra assignments that students can do to modify or enhance their pieces. This is an added bonus for us. Since my daughter has a manuscript that she wrote for our homeschool theater group, it's allowed her to examine it with a different perspective and new found ideas. One of her first comments was "Wow, my characters are really shallow." She realized she needed to add more dimension to the main characters to make a better story. 

The Teacher's Guide offers ideas for discussion as well as answers for assignments and lessons. It's a handy tool for moms that need guidance in teaching writing.

With Writing Fiction in High School, students will learn how to:

* Write engaging dialogue *
* Build scenes *
* Ramp up the conflict *
* Create empathetic protagonists *
* Select a point of view *
* Describe settings and characters *
* Hook their readers *
* Critique themselves and other writers *
* Get published *

* And much, much more! *
(Writing Fiction in High School)
How To Purchase: Writing Fiction in High School is available for $25.05 and the Teacher's Guide can be purchased for $9.95. An excellent price for a curriculum that can be used in multiple ways.

What We Thought: We loved this curriculum. It is well written and very easy to follow. My daughter really liked that. The lessons were straight forward and not difficult to complete. We have a co-op class with our homeschool group and I'm considering offering a writing class and using this curriculum. I believe it will be well liked by other parents and, more importantly, the students.

I wanted my daughter to write her thoughts down, since she was the primary user of it. This is what she wrote: 
"I like the way the workbook is written, it is very easy to follow. The book excerpts given are perfect illustrations of the point the author is trying to make. The examples taken from other books were from very interesting books, I looked up a few of them so I could read the rest of the story.  Writing Fiction In High School is very helpful for learning how to better write new stories of my own, and also to polish the ones I have."
I am confident you will find Writing Fiction in High School a wonderful supplement to your high schooler's curriculum. There is much to offer.

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