Project Overview

My students start  their Make Your Own Adventure projects with a short story they are already working on. For example, this past year, they were developing a story inspired by the illustrations of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. This wonderful picture book has a series of creepy illustrations and bizarre captions, but the “stories” have gone missing when the “writer” disappeared without a trace.

Once the stories inspired by the illustrations are underway, and some are even finished, we then talk about the overall concept of creating “branches” in the existing stories. Where are the moments when something dramatic has happened? Are there places where the main character has to make a decision that could go more than one direction? Were there places where you thought about moving the story somewhere else but made a decision otherwise? Notice how these questions are designed to really spark the critical thinking skills of a young writer. They have to consider their techniques as a writer in order come up with answers.

This is also the time that we again talk about narrative point of view. I  pose the question of why it is that “second person point of view” is so often used in these texts, and we brainstorm reasons (reader investment, etc.) We discuss the struggles that writers have with maintaining a believable second person point of view, but also how effective it can be. For many, this is the first foray into having the reader be the character in a story, and it can be a difficult challenge for those students whose critical thinking skills are not yet developed.