[Mentor Text Monday] Author’s Craft

Have you ever finished a book and didn’t want to put it down? I just finished a great YA book and I was so sad to reach the end. The story ended well, but I wasn’t yet finished with the characters. I was so invested in their drama, I didn’t want to part ways with them quite yet.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart, was a haunting, well-written novel. I’ve chosen to highlight a few elements of author’s craft that the writer used throughout the story. Any one of these could be a mentor text lesson for young writers looking to expand their narratives.

  • Opposites: Similar to my last mentor text post about what should be, Lockhart uses opposing statements to describe characters and events in striking contrast. Here are just a few examples:

“I used to be blond, but now my hair is black. I used to be pretty, but now I look sick. It is true I suffer migraines since my accident. It is true I do not suffer fools.” – page 15

  • Nouns as descriptions: Throughout the novel, the author describes the characters using nouns as descriptions- two sentences, four nouns, a vivid picture.

“He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.” – page 22

  • Personification: Another element of craft this author uses is personification. So many inanimate objects come to life with human qualities, giving the reader a sense of everything that is going on in a particular moment.

“The bright shame of being unloved soaked the grass in front of our house, the bricks of the path, the steps to the porch. My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.” – page 17

As much as this study makes me want to use this mentor text to work on my own narrative techniques, I instead want to discuss author’s craft.

There were so many smart moves the author made while writing this novel. This reminds me that the best teachers of writing are not only those who write, but those who read. When you read like a writer you can’t help but notice what an author does to keep you entertained.

The Reading Standards 4-6 in the Common Core State Standards fall under the domain of “Craft and Structure”. In order to ensure that students meet the expectations of these standards, reading and writing need to be integrated strategically. You can’t discuss the craft and structure of what you are reading without considering how it was written. The best mentor texts do not come from a list you find online. Rather, they come from your own personal library, with texts that impacted you as a reader.

  • What mentor texts have you discovered lately?
  • What great books have you read lately?

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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7 Responses to [Mentor Text Monday] Author’s Craft

  1. Mrs. Waters says:

    Sometimes it’s hard to remember to look for craft when you’re thoroughly engrossed in a book. However, I’ve found that if I read on my Kindle-app, I can highlight those passages as I find them. Then returning to them in the book is a cinch, compared to trying to find that highlighted paragraph in a paper book.

    Thank you very much for this wonderful article. I’m going to share it with my readers.

  2. Mrs. Waters says:

    I love finding books I’ve annotated years ago,and reading through the notes I’ve made.

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