Check out the Writing Tutorial video series under the WRITING TUTORIAL tab. You can also find the Writing Tutorial playlist on my YouTube channel, HERE.
The Writer’s Guide is a downloadable PDF that students can use to help them organize their ideas for their story.
All throughout the tutorial, I discuss how I would design and construct my own story. I give examples showing how I design the plot, develop the characters, use setting to increase tension . . . Students can see the finished story on the SHORT STORY D/L tab. The story discussed in the tutorials is Battle with the Wither King.
Want bookmarks for your students, let me know.
I love hearing from teachers, and am thrilled when I hear how excited many kids are to read my books. It seems like Minecraft and my characters, especially Gameknight999, has ignited some excitement amongst students about reading and writing.
Getting Reluctant Readers to Read
I’ve heard from many teachers and parents about how my books are getting reluctant readers, especially middle-grade boys, to read again. We all know about the statistics of reading literacy with boys when they enter into middle school. You’d think they all became suddenly allergic to the library.
One of the really surprising things about my books is that kids, especially boys, are excited about reading my Minecraft novels. This has opened a door for teachers and parents to get kids off the computer games and into a book. And the irony of it is that the books are about a computer game, J! Watch this boy when he gets the next book, https://youtu.be/Z-yuXEPLS78.
I would love to talk with any teacher out there about how we could use my books to get more kids to read. As a past educator, I know the importance of good reading skills, and would love to help if possible.
If you’re interested in discussing this, I can easily be contacted through this website. Just send me an email, I answer every one, but please be careful with spelling your email address. Ever now and then I get a message that I cannot answer because the reader typed their email address incorrectly, so please be careful. I answer every email I receive, personally.
Getting Reluctant Writers to Write
An added bonus I’ve received with publishing all these books is that I receive many stories from kids every week. Because these kids know a lot about Minecraft, many of them feel confident about creating their own stories . . . which is fantastic!
If you go to the BLOG tab, you can see all the stories that I’ve received from kids over the past couple of years as well as their art work. This has been very exciting, seeing the creativity of young kids blossoming as they send in story after story. There are even a couple of kids in the process of self-publishing their books online . . . WOW!
RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS
What I’ve learned from writing: After writing nearly 20 novels and reading countless books of plot construction, character development, scene design, setting, dialogue, . . . I’ve come to learn a few things about writing. I have broken these learnings into bite-sized pieces that are digestible for kids, then put them together in a set of workshop materials that are available for you to use and share with our colleagues.
Writing materials to use in your class: These materials are workshop and teacher tested, and have been received very positively. It is my hope that educators will use these materials with their classes, inspiring them to write and send me their stories so I can post them on my website. The stories don’t need to be about Minecraft, they can be about anything; I just want to get kids to write!
Video response to your students by me: Once you’ve used these materials with your students, if they have questions for me, send me 4 or 5 and I will make a video reply to your class, naming the kids by name (not last names) and answering their questions.
I post every story I receive that is more than a single sentence, and since I approve all comments, I don’t let any negative comments get through, so this is a safe place for kids work to be displayed. So if you want your students to send me their stories, just have them paste it into an email, and it will get up on my website, and they’ll receive an email when it’s there for them to see.
I’ve made some bookmarks that show the covers of my books. They are a coveted item for all Minecrafters. Teachers, if you want a set of these bookmarks for your classes, just email me through my website, or use marktheminecraftauthor (at) Gmail (dot) com. I’m happy to send a bookmark for each student. Please provide me with the school name, address and website. I need to make sure I am sending them to teachers.
Students, sorry, but I cannot send them to you, just your teachers, so ask you teachers and have them email me.
Teachers, keep doing the fantastic work you do. Education is critical for all children, and as a past educator, I know how hard of a job this is. It takes dedication, patience and a love of learning to inspire these kids to reach their potential. A big THANK YOU goes out to all educators, administrators, support staff, counselors, psychologists and social workers. Your work is valuable and it is valued, even though people don’t always tell you . . . well I’m telling you! THANKS!!!
Everything that is written below is also in the videos, so use whichever medium suits you best. The written information on writing is also in the Writing your Minecraft Story – For Teachers writing guide. I hope this is helpful. Please send me an email with any suggestions to make this a more useful resource for teachers.
I’ve spoken with many kids about Minecraft, no big surprise, but I’ve also spoken with them about writing their own stories. An a couple things emerge as constant themes:
- Kids want to write their own stories.
- Kids don’t know how to write their own stories.
So I put together some materials to help them understand the basic elements of a story. When I started writing, about 7 years ago, I knew nothing about story structure, I just knew I wanted to write. They way I learned about story structure and dialogue and character development and setting and . . . is I started to write, and quickly realized I knew nothing about the science of writing. I purchased lots of how-to books on writing, and took a little piece here and a small morsel of insight there. I attended conferences, and I listened to many webinars, learning everything I could.
As I wrote more failed books, I found my writing wasn’t as smelly as it started out; it stunk a lot less, and in fact, sometimes my writing actually smelled pretty good. As the structure of the story began to formulate in the back of my mind, I started to see the patterns and the science of writing, and that’s when my books started to become successful.
I’ve distilled these learnings about the science of writing, and put them here, both in written form, and also as videos.
For the purposes of this lesson, I’ve made up my own Minecraft story, and also use examples from the Lego Movie to illustrate some of these concepts as well. Soon, I will soon be writing this story out, with annotations showing what I’ve done, or tried to do, to illustrate one of the lessons.
You should feel free to show these materials to your classes if you think it valuable. You should feel free to share it with anyone and everyone.
I hope this is helpful.
Writing Minecraft Stories for Kids
Right now, while I was preparing this document, I’ve published 12 Minecraft novels, with two more books completed and in the hands of the editor. Before these Minecraft novels, I actually wrote 5 books, all of which were colossal commercial failures. For the most part, these first books were unsuccessful because at the time I was very new to writing, and didn’t understand about plot and character, and as a result, those books were terrible.
But as I continued my writing endeavors (I’m stubborn and don’t know when to give up) I read books on plot construction, and character development, and scene construction, and suspense, and … I read countless books on writing pedagogy, and learned a few nuggets of wisdom from each one. These techniques I’ve incorporated into my writing, and the effect on my writing has been significant, leading me to the New York Times bestseller’s list, having 12 books published with plans out to book 18, with my novels appearing in 22 countries and translated into 13 different languages, and over a million copies in print!
Share what I’ve learned about writing with kids: To share these writing strategies with kids, I did some writing workshops at local libraries. (Sadly, I no longer have time to do these workshops because of my writing schedule, sorry.) I put together this basic set of materials that I used with kids from 2rd grade to 7th grade.
I break down the lessons into 5 categories:
- An internal struggle for the main character
- A way for the character to defeat the bad guy and learn something new (resolution)
I’ve made up my own Minecraft story just for this lesson, and also use examples from the Lego Movie to illustrate some of these concepts as well. You’ll also find the set of worksheets that I used during the workshops. You should feel free to use as needed.
I would love it if your students wrote their own stories. They are always welcome to send them to me, and I’ll post them on my website, http://markcheverton.com/blog/. It doesn’t matter if your students write about Minecraft, or they write about something else, I don’t care, as long as they are writing. I get hundreds of stories every year, and I post anything that is longer than 1 sentence. Also, I approve all comments, so I only allow positive responses, though I’ve seen very very few negative comments.
It is my hope that together, we can get kids reading and writing more, for we all know how important this is for literacy. And if we can get kids writing their own stories, this skill will server them throughout their academic careers. Maybe together, we can spawn a whole new generation of authors!
Sample story for use in the lessons
I developed a story for use in this workshop, so that kids can understand how I apply these different story elements. Below is the summary that I read to the kids at the beginning of the workshop.
Battle with the Wither King – summary
Watcher stands guard in the tall watchtower that stands high above the village. He is supposed to watch the land for monsters, and then warn the villagers if he sees them. The problem is that he daydreams a lot, and will sometimes ring the alarm to warn the village when really he just imagined the monsters in his blocky head. Because of this, people don’t really believe anything Watcher says or trusts him very much, but he has the best eyes in the village, therefore it is his job to stand watch in the tower.
One day, he sees Karkan, the king of the withers and warns the village. Because of his past, no one believes Watcher and punish him for making something up about the most horrific of monsters, Karkan. In a desire to prove that he is right, Watcher goes out into the dangerous wilderness to find Karkan and prove that his is right. What he will find on his journey will terrify Watcher to his very soul when he learns Karkan’s secret plan…to destroy the entire village.
Can Watcher convince the village there is a real threat out there in Minecraft, or will he have to stop Karkan himself?
We’ll use this story as an example for the lessons that follow. Maybe your students want to finish this story?
- Good guy (protagonist): The main character is Watcher. His parents, Builder and Farmer, were lost in the great zombie invasion, and so he lives with the black smith, Smithy. He is skinny and smaller than all the other NPCs. He can’t use a sword very well and this makes him feel bad about himself (It’s important that the main character has a problem), but he can use his bow better than anyone else in the village, though the warriors don’t consider this a real.
- Bad guy (antagonist): The wither-king, Karkan, is the bad guy. He wants to destroy the village because under the village is a huge supply of gold that only Karkan knows about. Wither’s crave gold and as a result, Karkan will do anything to get rid of the village so that he can shoot his flaming skulls into the ground to expose the gold.
In general, there are some strategies when choosing names of your heroes and your villains. Starting with the bad guys, names with hard consonant sounds, like hard K’s and hard T’s always feel more evil that ones with soft consonant sounds. Also, letters at the end of the alphabet, V, W, X, Y, Z all look a little bit evil in print. Lord Vader, Lord Voldemort, Vo-Lok (zombie king #1, Xa-Tul (zombie king #2) . . . In my story above, I’ve named the king of the withers, Krakan, lots of hard K sounds. So the choice of a name is important for the bad guy.
For the good guy, the opposite is true. You want soft consonant sounds that are easy to say, basically the opposite as the rules for the antagonist names.
Sometimes I don’t follow the naming conventions described above, because I want to use a name from mythology or maybe a name from literature. For example, my favorite bad guy, Erebus, has all soft consonant sounds, but if you google his name, you’ll see what it is from.
It’s important that the characters all have some kind of flaw. This will be the heart of our story, and is important to get right, but is also difficult to do right. I struggle with this in every book I write, and frequently, I don’t figure it out until I’m half way through the story.
Watcher’s flaw is that he doesn’t feel very important, because he can’t use a sword. He feels insignificant compared to the bigger, stronger NPCs. This gives us a ton of material to work with when it comes to the internal struggle for the character, and it also lets the reader relate to this problem. If you don’t have an internal flaw, then you don’t have a story . . . this is CRITICAL.
Karkan’s flaw is his thirst for gold, to the point where his greed with cloud his judgement and end up hurting him. In my Minecraft novels, the bad guy is Herobrine, and his flaw is that he wants revenge on everyone because he’s trapped within the Minecraft servers. He is irrational in his need for revenge, and doesn’t care who suffers. This will cause him to make poor decisions that will eventually lead to his destruction.
It is important to show Karkan’s flaw as something that is fairly repulsive. We want the reader to love to hate this character, so that they cheer for the hero when he wins. And to do that, the reader really needs to hate the bad guy.
The rule is: the Hero can only be as good as the Villain is bad!
The Internal Struggle (or Character Arc as it is sometimes called) of the character is why we pick up the book and keep reading. Seeing the protagonist confront their flaw and overcome it fills us with hope. I’ve heard from many kids, telling me that my first book, which was about cyber bullying, helped them to feel more confident and just turn away from the bully instead of letting them bring them down. The more personal the internal struggle is to the reader, the more they will keep reading.
If you look at the books in the bookstore in the middle-grade section, you see books about how hard middle school is for kids, you see books about not fitting in, books about feeling left out . . . all of these internal struggles resonate with readers, which is why they dominate the market.
For your students, you need to help them with finding the internal struggle. It is ALWAYS related to the character flaw, which is why the character flaw is so important. This is something that the younger kids struggle with, so rather than talking about some kind of personal flaw, like self-esteem or loneliness, I have them focus on physical things, like they lost their enchanted diamond sword. Maybe their diamond sword makes them feel important, or it means they are the king of the village. Physical things are easier for the younger kids.
The older kids (5th, 6th, 7th) all know about not fitting in. They all know about bullying, then all know about being afraid and they all know about loneliness. These are great areas for them to explore in their writing, and it is not difficult for them to try it, because they are writing about their imaginary hero and not themselves.
My main character is Watcher, and he feels like he isn’t important and that no one will believe him. This is mostly due to the fact that he doesn’t speak up, he doesn’t speak confidently, and he doubts his own importance and worth. Watcher wishes he was like the strong warriors, but instead, he has this small, skinny body and is too weak to hold a sword, so he can only use a bow. He wishes he were someone else sometimes.
Throughout the story, it is important to emphasize Watcher’s feelings of unimportance and feeling like an outsider because no one believes him. If I want to show Watcher feeling good about himself at the end, then I MUST show him feeling bad about himself. To show something present, you must first show it absent, so in this story, I’d hammer on Watcher’s feelings throughout the text.
Karkan has a craving for gold. He feels that his gold is the only thing that makes him an important and powerful ruler. He doesn’t understand that the true mark of a good ruler is in the way they help their subjects and make their lives better. But Karkan doesn’t care about anything; he just wants power & fame.
Throughout the story, when I’m writing about Karkan, I’ll show what he is thinking, how he is crazy for the gold under the village, and how insignificant the villagers are to him. His thirst for greed will cause him to make bad decision and not think things through because his is so obcessed with gold.
At the end of the story, there will be a resolution to the internal struggle for the protagonist. This will be linked to the character’s flaw and how he feels about himself. This is likely one of the more important parts of the story, as it makes the reader feel successful and the story was worth reading. In Harry Potter, he finally faces Voldemort without being afraid. In StarWars, Luke finally faces Darth Vader and learns he is not like his father, he is a Jedi Knight. In Toy Story, Woody learns that he can share Andy with Buzz, and Buzz learns that being a toy for Andy and making him happy is important. If the resolution to the internal struggle falls flat, then the reader will feel cheated, so this is critical, it’s hard, and it takes a lot of practice. I’m still learning about it, and study every Pixar film that comes at as they are fantastic about this. Look at Inside-Out for a great example of internal struggle and resolution.
One piece of information I didn’t share with you before; withers, when attacked, float up high into the air to avoid being hit. I chose this creature as the antagonist, on purpose, just for this characteristic. When the final battle arrives, and all the big swordsmen attack, Karkan will float up into the air, out of reach. So that big and strong warriors with their shining swords, won’t be able to do anything to stop Karkan from attacking the village. Only an archer with incredible skill will be able to defeat the monster – enter Watcher.
Watcher will have to confront his fears and his own insecurities to help stop Karkan. The warriors, with their swords will not be able to get close enough to Karkan to stop him. Only an archer, with incredible skill will be able to stop the wither king and save the village from destruction. This will be a huge battle scene with Karkan firing his flaming skulls down upon the village and villagers. Watcher will be terrified, but when he sees the village bully, Carver, get hurt by the wither’s attack, Watcher sees fears in the huge warrior’s eyes, and he realizes that even a warrior as big and strong as Carver can be afraid, just like him. Maybe they aren’t so different…maybe he can be as brave as Carver always seems to be. With this new found courage. Watcher uses his bow to defeat Karkan and save the village. (It’s super important to have the character use something from his internal struggle to help him win the final battle and defeat the bad guy.)
When I think about the setting for my stories, I try to match the setting to the thing happening in the story. If the hero is feeling sad and lonely, then maybe I put him in a desert at night, with lots of clouds overhead. If he’s feeling happy, maybe we’re in a forest covered with flowers. I try to match the environment with the emotion whenever possible.
Also, I get messages from readers telling me how they feel they are actually experiencing the story with Gameknight999. They comment on how immersive the description of the environment feels. This is because I try to write to all the senses. I want the reader to not only know what a forest looks like, but also what it sounds like or smells like (taste is a hard one, but sometimes I can incorporate it; the dusty desert coats his tongue, the acrid smoke tastes sooty in his mouth . . .). The more your kids can write to the senses, the more drawn in the reader will be into the story.
That being said, too much description of the setting will kill the momentum of the story. I will usually start out a chapter with a paragraph of description and that’s all. I try to get to dialog or action as quickly as possible, but still I intersperse description throughout the chapter. I’ll say, Gameknight turned his head and noticed the sunlight streaming through the overhead leafy canopy like golden shafts of light . . . and then I follow with action or dialogue. You can’t do paragraph after paragraph of descriptions, as it will eventually bore the reader.
Here are some settings that I share with kids during my workshop. I try to focus on getting the kids to think about what is present in the environment, and how they could show those things to the reader in creative and interesting ways.
- The setting is in a desert village right next to a dense roofed forest. I like the roofed forest because it can be spooky and full of shadows and mysterious things.
- The desert is dry, with spiny cactus and pale yellow sand everywhere. The dry wind is hot as it blows sand across his face, stinging his skin with a thousand tiny needles. Dried shrubs stand here and there, their brown forms sometimes crumbling in the wind, crackling & snapping as they crumble to the sandy ground. Watcher like the desert and it smells because it reminds him of how he feels, alone and empty.
- The air smells of heat and dust and emptiness, but within the village, things smell rich with life. There are crops within the village that are rich with dark green color. They smell of tilled earth, rich ripe melons and sweet apples from the trees.
- The roofed forest is dark in contrast to the desert. The tree branches come together to form a leafy ceiling that blots out the sun. Within the shadows of the forest are shapes that look like monsters and demons, but are really just tree branches.
- Large red mushrooms sprout here and there, pushing back the tree branches and allowing light to trickle through to the forest floor.
- Wolves howl in the distance, the furry white creature looking almost as four-legged ghosts in the dark forest.
- The bark of the trees is rough like jagged rough sandpaper.
Plot is probably the most important thing in the story, second only to the character. I’ve learned there is a science to plot construction, and all successful books follow this pattern. That being said, that doesn’t mean that all stories need to follow this pattern, but for me, as an author writing commercial fiction, it’s really important.
I’ve simplified the different pieces of the plot, so that it is more easily digestible for kids. In my workshops, I go through these individual parts to the plot, show what I would write with my story about Watcher and Karkan, and then give examples of the individual aspects of plot using the Lego Movie, something that most kids have seen and is a great example of plot construction and character development.
For more advanced writers, there are numerous books on Amazon about plot construction. I’ll list my favorites in the Teacher Resources section as well as some good links to helpful websites.
a. Beginning – Sometimes, this is referred to as The Hook. It’s purpose is to get the reader hooked, so that they will keep reading. Frequently, we post a question to a reader, or uncover a mystery that sound interesting. One author said (I think it was James Patterson, but not sure) ‘The way to get a book started is show the protagonist with something important to them, then take that thing away from them.” This automatically increases the tension and gets the reader wondering what’s going to happen next.In my story, I show Watcher daydreaming while on guard duty on the tall watchtower in the center of the village. He thinks he sees the wither king and goes to tell someone, but they don’t believe him. Frequently, he will think his daydreams are real and has reported those in the past. As a result, people don’t trust him. But this time, he knows the wither king, Karkan was real, and he’s going to try to destroy the village. I want to make the reader feel sorry for the protagonist and cheer for him. The reader must cheer for him and want to see him succeed. I also show Carver, who is a bully and picks on and teases Watcher. But I pose the presence if Karkan as a mystery that needs to be investigated.In the Lego Movie, we meet Emmet and we like him because he is so positive, but then he sees Wyldstyle looking for the relic and is taken aback by her beauty. Then he falls and gets the top to the Kragle stuck to his back. Life has significantly changed for him, and whether he likes it or not, Emmet is on an adventure.
b. The bad guy appears – It’s important to show the antagonist. Some books, like mysteries, show this at the end. I like putting it up front so that the reader can really hate the bad guy, which helps them to route for the good guy. In many of my books, this is the first chapter, where I introduce the bad guy and tell the reader what he’s going to do to all the villagers in Minecraft. This will give the reader a hint at what is going to happen, and make them question how my main character, Gameknight999, will stop Herobrine again so that he can protect his friends.In the story of Watcher and the Wither King, we hear from the antagonist, Karkan. We hear his thirst for gold and that there is gold under the village. He wants to scare the villagers away by showing himself to the watcher in the tower. But if they wont’ leave on their own, then he’ll use his flaming skulls to destroy everyone. This presents the problem to the reader, establishes the stakes, which always need to be high so that reader will be interested. Here, the stakes are the entire village is going to be destroyed. It’s also important to make the reader really hate the antagonist. Readers of my books love to hate the King of the Endermen, Erebus, so much so, that they’ve demanded that he come back into the stories, which I’m doing in books 13, 14, and 15. For some reasons, my readers love to hate Erebus. If you’re curious about the name, put it into google and see what you get. Frequently, I’ll try to use the names of mythological creatures or characters from literature as names of my characters.In the Lego Movie, we hear Lord Business talking with the Cop, telling of his plans to bring order to the world. This establishes the antagonist’s need for order, but we also take a strong dislike to him.
c. Solve the mystery – I’ve learned, by studying the books in my market segment that are successful, like Harry Potter, or Twilight, or Lemony Snickets, or . . . that all of these have some component of a mystery to them. And our hero needs to solve the mystery so that they can help protect their friends, or save their home (Goonies!), or . . . So it is important to present the mystery to the reader. Frequently, I’ll do it in the first or second chapters, because I like to get the story going quickly.In the example of Watcher and the wither king, I need to start the hero on a quest to solve the mystery . . . did he really see Karkan or was he just imagining it. Here I would tell the reader what this adventure is going to be about; going to the wither king’s fortress to see if he’s really there. The hero starts out on his journey, but he really doesn’t know, yet, what the bad guy is up to. He will slowly learn more and more until he knows the bad guy’s plans. This part of the story is frequently referred to as the Response. The protagonist is reacting to what the antagonist is doing. He may not know why things are happening to him, or what is really going on, he is just reacting to the situation and trying to avoid getting squashed by the evil forces that are about. Some stories will reveal glimpses of the bad guy and what he’s doing here, but they only hint at it. The protagonist doesn’t really know what the bad guy is doing until later.In the Lego Movie, Emmet and Wyldstyle must find the other Specials so they can stop Lord Business, because only the Specials are real builders, and only they can stop the bad guy from taking over everything.
d. Dark night of the soul – This is a point in the story where we think the good guy is going to lose and everything looks hopeless, i.e. Darth Vader killing Ben. It looked hopeless for Luke, but he keeps trying regardless, but now, the main character is angry and is highly motivated to defeating the bad guy. This part of the plot is frequently referred to as the recommitment. The hero is tired of running from the bad guy and now he goes on the offensive. Instead of just responding to the bad guy, our hero goes on the offensive and attacks the bad guy.In the Lego Movie, their space ship is destroyed by Lord Business’ forces. All of the characters try to build something that will help, and Emmet builds his silly double decker sofa. After their ship is destroyed, they hide in the double decker sofa. It looks like all is lost, but then Emmet starts to thing, maybe his is a builder after all. Now, the Lego characters start making their own plans to attack Lord Business. Now, the speed of the movie really begins to take off.
e. Face the villain – Inevitably, the good guy must face the bad guy. This is the showdown at high noon, where what the protagonist has learned through his adventure has helped to eliminate his flaw, so that he can defeat the antagonist.It is common that I will write this scene first, so that I can understand what the good guy needs to do to overcome the bad guy. Then I will work backward through the plot to figure out what to hint at through the story so that this final scene has a lot of impact.In my story, Watcher will follow the warriors to Karkan’s fortress (great opportunity for some description). But during the battle, the warriors will start getting defeated. Watcher is afraid to help because he isn’t big and strong, and all he has is his bow, but if he doesn’t he knows that all these villagers will be destroyed. And if the warriors all fail, then who will protect the village from Karkan and his horde of monsters. Watcher realizes he has to face his fear and help!In the Lego Movie, all of the different characters rise up against Lord Business’ army and fight back.
f. Resolution – Here is where the good guy will finally win. Frequently, I’ll put something in the final battle scene a point where it looks like Gameknight999 is going to lose, and then end a chapter at that point. It is a great strategy to raise the tension in the story. Then in the next chapter, he figures out how to defeat the bad guy, through the resolution of his flaw and inner conflict.In the story with Watcher, the warriors, with their swords will not be able to get close enough to Karkan to stop him. Only an archer, with incredible skill will be able to stop the wither king and save the village from destruction. This will be a huge battle scene with Karkan firing his flaming skulls down upon the village and villagers. Watcher will be terrified, but when he sees the village bully, Carver, get hurt by the wither’s attack, Watcher sees fears in the huge warrior’s eyes, and he realizes that even a warrior as big and strong as Carver can be afraid, just like him. Maybe they aren’t so different…maybe he can be as brave as Carver always seems to be. With this new found courage. Watcher uses his bow to defeat Karkan and save the village. Maybe Watcher has only six arrows (a ticking clock is always a great way to add tension and excitement). He fires a few and hits Karkan, then misses, then has only one arrow left. And with his last shot, he destroys the king of the withers, saving the village.It’s super important to have the character use something from his internal struggle to help him win the final battle and defeat the bad guy. In our example above, Watcher sees fear in Carver’s eyes, and realizes that even though he’s big and strong, he is also afraid sometimes too. Watcher then realizes that he can be just as brave as Carver, and attacks.In the Lego Movie – Emmet tells Lord Business that we’re all special. We don’t have to just try to control things, even Lord Business can create great things. That is the real battle, not with punching and shooting, but with Lord Business feeling special just as Emmet has learned to feel.
Now, all that’s left is you want to show that life goes back to normal, but the main character walks a little taller and feels better about him/herself because they’ve learned something through the course of this adventure. This part doesn’t need to be very long. For me, sometimes its only a paragraph or two. In some of my Gameknight999 novels, it might be only a sentence or two. But it’s important to show that the protagonist has changed and now their daily life is better in some small way, maybe only visible to them self, but you share it with the reader so they can appreciate the growth.
When you’re done design these six scenes, then all that is left is figuring out the sequence of events that need to happen in between these scenes so that the chronology makes sense. For example, somewhere, Watcher need to travel to the wither king’s fortress. Likely he will encounter some challenges on the way that can be used to increase the tension in the story. I find that after I’ve figured out these six critical scenes, then coming up with the rest of the storyline is much easier and not such a daunting task; I think your students will find the same thing. The rest, is imagination.
PUTTING YOUR STORY TOGETHER!
Now that you have all the pieces of the puzzle ready, you’re ready to weave them together into a fantastic story. I’ve created a video showing how I map out a short story and use examples from Battle with the Wither King which you can download on the next tab. I’ve also created a download link so you can see the page I created in the video. I hope this is helpful in getting your students from the outline worksheet to a story with a beginning, middle and end.
Click below to download
7-Scene Plot Outline Process
Here’s a video showing how I outline my novels. This method seems to make it easy to develop the entire plot, with its high points and low points, and I’m able to do this outline relatively quickly. Using this process has dramatically accelerated my writing process.
Using Dialogue to increase tension in your story
Here’s a video on some of the things I’ve learned about how to effectively use dialogue to keep a story exciting, and keep the dialogue crisp and interesting and exciting as well.
Characters and Storytelling
Here is a video about characters in storytelling and some comparisons of these concepts to characters you all know from books and movies. I hope you like it.
Download free Minecraft stories.
These are some short stories that I wrote for you to freely distribute to anyone and everyone. I hope these stories encourage your students to read and write. There will be more short stories coming out through the next year, so keep checking here for new additions.
Battle with the Wither King
Battle with the Wither King is the story that is sample story used in the writing tutorial. Originally, I had called the story Watcher Faces the Wither King, but I felt there wasn’t enough action in the title, and that is important when putting a name to a book, so I changed it to this title. I hope you all like it.
Watcher, one of the most insignificant NPCs in their community (according to the warriors), feels like an outcast. He stands alone at the top of the watchtower, gazing out into the landscape, searching for monsters. The problem is, he gets bored and instead of watching, he day-dreams. He’s seen armies of zombies, only to find they are a handful of pigs, or imagining chickens to be skeletons. No one trusts what he says, making Watcher feel even more alone. But one day, this all changes when he sees Karkan, the King of the Withers near their fortified walls. Of course, no one believes Watcher when he reports the monster’s presence. Rather than be mocked and bullied, the young villager goes out into the wild to find Karkan and prove he exists. But what Watcher finds, will terrify him and likely forever alter his life, this is if he can survive long enough to help save his village from total destruction.
Click below to download
A new short story offered by New York Times Bestselling author, Mark Cheverton, this story is the prequel to the Gameknight999 series of unofficial Minecraft novels that have been published around the world, with over a million copies in print. It documents how Gameknight999’s epic adventure really began . . . and how the legend, and the nightmare, were both born.
A virus was launched into the Minecraft servers. It was not just any virus; this one was the spawn of artificially intelligent software. It’s purpose was to spread out and destroy. But the designer of that virus didn’t plan on their lethal viral code interacting with the game in such an unpredictable way. Instead of just penetrating the digital defenses of the Minecraft servers and laying waste to the computerized universe, it instead modified the software ever so slightly, awakening all of the villagers. And now they were alive, as was the virus. Confused and scared, the virus and the villagers must come to grips with their sudden spark of life. The sense of freedom and joy were incredible, but so were their fears, for now they could be destroyed.
Tensions from the past still run deep as the villagers have faint memories of the monsters of Minecraft. The virus changed everything, but now felt a loneliness that began to eat at his soul like a malignant tumor, causing anger and hate to fester and grow. Will the virus find a place to fit in with the NPCs, or will he make his own place, with the edge of a sword?
Click below to download
One of many short stories coming from New York Times Bestselling author, Mark Cheverton, this unofficial Minecraft adventure shows the User-that-is-not-a-user on another adventure with his friends.
Gameknight999’s enemy, Herobrine, is finally gone from the server, but with a surprising call from within Minecraft, Gameknight realizes there is another adversary. After seeing the village of his friends in danger of being covered with lava, Gameknight999 uses his father’s invention, the Digitizer, once more and becomes the User-that-is-not-a-user again. With the help of one of his friends, Gameknight rushes to the village only to find another mystery and a new phone call, this time coming into Minecraft from outside. This new villain threatens to destroy Crafter’s village if Gameknight does not do what he demands. But the demand is a riddle, “finish the fuzzy rainbow.” What does that mean? How can he help his friends when he doesn’t even understand the clues. But when the timer starts counting down to the destruction of Crafter’s village and everyone inside, Gameknight has no choice but to solve the riddle, or die trying.
With new monsters never before seen in this world, Gameknight999 will use every bit of trickery and skill to solve this puzzle and save his friends, but can he do it fast enough, or will he be forced to watch the destruction of everything he holds dear.
If you enjoy this story, then maybe you want to fly the Elytra Perils course on the Gameknight999 Minecraft Server. This Elytra flying course on the server parallels, very closely, the story above. It is my hope that after reading the story, you can go onto the server and fly the course, and pretend you are Gameknight999 trying to save Crafter and Digger and all his friends.
Click below to download
Minecraft Novels Poster
I put this poster together for you to give to kids, or print out and post, or whatever? Click below to download.
This document has much of the information that is contained in the videos, but not too wordy so students will actually read it. There is also a writing guide at the end for kids to fill out. When I did workshops, I handed every child one of these documents, then we talked about the different elements of the example story, then they filled in their ideas on the writing guide at the end. You can’t believe how much they wrote and the level of detail in their outlines; these students had a lot to say in their writing, and the writing guide gave them some structure to accumulate their ideas.
Hopefully, after kids have written this outline, they will then go back and write out their whole story and send it to me, to be posted on this website. You can see the video at the end of the Story Elements tab, called Creating Your Story. Here I show how I put together the outline into a series of chapters or scenes, to create the story. I hope all this helps.
Writing Your Minecraft Story – Handout for Ss.pdf Click below to download
This document has all the information from above. It may be appropriate to give to students as it may be too detailed, maybe not, you decide.
Writing Your Minecraft Story – for Teachers.pdf Click below to download
I’ve read many books on writing pedagogy, and many of them require the reader to have a PdD in English Lit or an MFA in Creative Writing. They use examples from books that I’ve never heard of, and draw conclusions by showing passages from these books. In general, I find most of these books not very helpful, but there are usually one or two nuggets of knowledge that I find helpful, and I add them to my Batman utility belt of writing tricks.
However, I did find this book, that teaches many of the things I’ve mentioned here, and does a much better job that I could ever do, but the good thing is that it’s written for kids. It talks at their language and doesn’t make any assumptions about previous writing experience; it’s fantastic. For the series writer in your class, it is a good book to have in their utility belt.
For the more advanced writer, not written for kids, I’ve found two books that I love, and typically I read select sections before I start writing a new book. These would likely not be appropriate for elementary kids, or may not middle school either (depending on the student), but high school writer would benefit a lot from reading these books.
Useful web links
Publishing kid’s work
Kids self-publishing their work on Amazon
It is incredibly easy to self-publish a story on Amazon. It’s easy to do, it costs nothing to do, and Amazon takes care of all the printing, inventory and shipping, and of course part of the author’s profit as well.
Imagine the boost to a child’s self-esteem when they see their book on Amazon, or even better, when the tear open that Amazon box and hold their book in their hands for the first time. This is something I’m trying to encourage with many teachers around the country. Through the use of my writing tutorials and free short stories, I’m trying to get kids to realize that they too can be a self-published author. Who knows what we will ignite within kids when they see their work out there for an authentic audience to see. I know, from first-hand experience, it is a powerful thing when you see your work up there on Amazon . . . let’s bring that feeling to our students and children.
So far, these are readers (elem/middle school age) of my books that have self-published their own work online – I hope to add more soon!
Below is a video of me showing how to do this process. Please watch and if you have questions, email to me, MarkTheMinecraftAuthor (at) gmail (dot) com