The first book-making class with Sam, Bella, and Elyse

Three 13-year-old girls from Mission Montessori signed up for my "Turn you Life Map into a Book" elective class.

We started by learning writing terms like protagonist, motive, and antagonist.

They used what they learned to outline their stories.

Of course, the protagonist was them, but they had to think about their motives.

"What's something you recently wanted?" I asked them. "That could be the motive of your story."

I watched the wheels of their minds turn as they thought about something they wanted within the past few weeks.

They were focused, bright, well-behaved, and knew how to learn, but one of the girls would take longer to put something on paper. "I'm sorry it's taking me so long," she said. "No problem. There's no rush," I assured.

After a few more minutes, she identified her motive. "What I recently wanted was a hug," she admitted. I was so inspired by her vulnerability. "That is a fine motive," I told her.

Next they identified the antagonists of their stories.

She fell deep into thought then asked, "What if I'm the protagonist AND the antagonist?"

"That is perfectly fine," I told her, even more inspired by her honesty.

Next, we had to pick out the conflicting emotions we had during the pursuit of our motives.

She thought for several minutes then the lightning struck and the ideas poured out of her.

I couldn't wait to find out what she writing.

They completed the rest of their outlines, then turned their outlines into rough drafts.

They shared what what they wrote at the end of the class.

The young lady who really seemed to be thinking went last.

"My motive was that I wanted a hug. I wanted a hug because I was lonely and depressed, but I realized that I push people away and that's why I get depressed. My story climaxed with me hugging my dog. I learned that I don't have to push people away anymore." I was almost in tears. I couldn't believe she discovered all that about herself. All I could say was, "Sometimes it's uncomfortable to write those things but that's what will make others read our stories."

I wish I could go back in time and tell her that she's a great person and that that level of self-awareness will take her anywhere.

I was so inspired.

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