Who is Harris Burdick
Resources - Tips on Getting Started

After students choose a favorite picture and caption from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, there are many ways to approach writing a story.

Here are some tips:

  • Use the caption as the first line of the story—simply write the caption at the top of the page and continue on from there!
  • Work backwards—use the caption as the last line of the story.
  • Use details in the illustrations to help add descriptive language and vivid imagery.
  • The illustrations naturally provoke questions. Choose your most pressing question, write it at the top of the page, and begin answering it. Your answer will create a story!
  • Some of the illustrations will spark stories that are character-driven. To get to know your main character, write a brief character sketch before starting your story.
  • Some of the illustrations will encourage stories that are plot-driven. Make a brief outline before beginning so you will have a clear sense of the story's progression.
  • These story starters are so fascinating in part because while they take place in a recognizable, realistic world, things are not always as they seem. Let your imagination loose as you write, and remember that you can make magic happen!

For more ideas on using Chris Van Allsburg's books in your classroom and to download a reading guide for each of his books, visit www.hmhbooks.com.

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