place quick write (#teacherswrite)

The final part of today’s  #TeachersWrite challenge is a paragraph filled with tiny details of a place. My place (actually a character’s place) is reading under a tree.

A photo I snapped on a walk…I like to imagine a character
reading under that weeping willow tree.

My final paragraph…
Turning the page of my book, I stretch, catching my little toe in a hole in the corner of my reading quilt. I flip over to my back, giving my thighs a break from all of the tiny quilt seams pressing into my skin. I cover my eyes with my arm, blocking the brightness from the early too-blue sky. The branches shuffle from the weeping willow, and I press deeper into the quilt. The dew tickles my toes.The quilt’s old, maybe my grandma’s great grandma sewed each of the tiny seams by hand. There’s a million different fabrics, all cut into tiny pieces. Of course, it could have just been one of Mom’s flea market finds. The breeze picks up and flutters the pages of my book, bringing me back to the story. The rooster announces morning, the bull frog responds, and Dad’s truck grumbles, but I’m in colonial America, feeling the hot sun as the character tends to the garden.

Because it’s the process that’s important to my work as a teacher, here’s how it went. Today’s #TeachersWrite is a quick write about a very specific place. First a two minute quick write — Go!

Stretched out on the old quilt that was maybe my grandma’s great grandma’s, or something like that, that breeze catches a few strands of my hair, flipping them into my eyes, my nose, my mouth. They tickle my ears. I turn the page. Once I’m in the story world, there’s not much that can distract me. Especially here, in this place, where Mr. Darcy is about to extend grace one more time. I’m vaguely aware of the birds high in the tree above me. Dad’s truck grumbles and the gravel crunches as he pulls out of the lane, on his way to meet a client. It’s too early for a teenager to be up and

Time’s up!

Now 1 minute on each of the senses…

SEE– words on the page, little green leaves, grass, ant crawling across the book, pond, twigs, roots under the tree, bits of blue sky, puffy clouds, chipped finger nails, blue heron, purple lilacs, pink peonies, tulips
HEAR — bull frogs, fish/frog splashes, bird chirps,rooster, rustling leaves, rooster, dad’s truck, tea kettle, horses, rooster, ducks walking, buzzing
SMELL — pond, fish, grass, flowers — lilacs, peonies — green
FEEL — breeze, light breeze, ants crawling, mosquito, soft quilt, the seams of the quilt, pages of the book, hair tickling face, damp from morning dew, toes cold

And a rewrite…
[Paragraph posted above.]

Writing makes me go deeper. I learn more about character and setting and conflict simply by putting words on the page. I’m also realizing it doesn’t matter how many times I think about a specific place, the more I think and write, the more I learn. Today I learned my character is an early-riser.

Let's Be Email Pals!

Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.

Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.

Don't worry, I won't send you spam, and you can unsubscribe any time. (I'd hate to see you go, though.) Powered by ConvertKit


  1. I posted about this lesson too, Ruth, & I've kept the process but didn't think to share it. It's wonderful to see how you changed as you moved through the quick writes. I like that final sentence, the father's truck grumbling, but then into the book & Colonial America.

  2. The final paragraph is wonderful, Ruth. I felt like I was that reader. I like that you shared the whole process with us. This would make a great mentor text to show kids how to revise!

  3. Oh gosh – I feel intimidated! I've been messing around with a place in my notebook for a month now – ever since you mentioned it last…I should try this method – maybe it would get it out of my notebook and into my blog.

  4. Thank you for the mentor text – I needed some inspiration to take time for this exercise and you provided it. I want to curl up on that blanket and read a book under that beautiful tree.