The writing process doesn't change now that we are writing in the genre of fantasy. Students still need to focus on collecting and developing stories ideas. However, the many strategies they have in generating ideas for personal narratives will have to change a little to support them in developing stories for fictional stories.
Although these lessons can work for any sort of fiction story writing, I taught this writing unit as part of the investigation into fantasy.
When students think of fantasy, they think huge thoughts of dragons, magic, and monsters. In this lesson, I teach them that even the most fantastical stories are grounded in reality and that is where we need to start to make a believable story for our readers.
Let me show you how I did that with my ideas. I remember my story about moving into a new home and being lonely.
I model on the white board or a large sticky note a story that I can write:
Maybe I could write a story about moving because that was a huge part of my life. I want the story to be for older kids, so I could make the main character be about 12. Yes! Cause friends really matter to kids of that age. This girl (boy?) finally find the perfect best friend, and then she has to move to a whole different state where they call middle school, junior high,” and the kids seem tough. Maybe she starts acting tough too, even before she moves away.
I ask the students, "Did you see how I began with some of the ‘true stuff’ from my entry about when I moved as a child, but then I started to imagine layers that would turn it into a juicy fiction story? And do you see how I am not actually writing the story in my notebook now; instead I’m thinking, planning, on the page? I even asked myself questions in the entry, questions like whether the character should be a boy or a girl."
This is the thinking aloud that you want students to do in the heads when they are planning for their stories.
After students get a chance to see how I've switched one true story to a fantasy story, they get a chance to try it out with one more suggested idea and then with their own ideas.
Students will reread their notebook, take an entry they particularly like, and try to write that as story ideas in a similar way? To show that they have really thought their idea through, they can write a few sentences about that one story idea.
They should try this same activity on multiple ideas.