Creativity Corner with Terry Shay | Creative Writing

By Terry Shay:

There are many ways to be creative, one is through writing. The first time I met Peter H. Reynolds, we were sitting in a restaurant and someone was asking him how he names characters. He said that if you come up with a unique name, it helps to write the character. I’ve thought a lot about that over the years and I notice it in books I am reading. My wife and I took a trip to South Dakota from our home in Iowa one summer and we started to play a game thinking of what the characters might be like. Lennox Hartford, Alexandria Bridgewater, Mitchell Parkston, they give you a picture of who the person is and what they might be like. Try it when you travel and keep a notebook of interesting names. Learn how Peter named the main character in The Dot Vashti at this link. Peter’s next book is called The Word Collector and it comes out January 30!

When my wife, Ellen, taught Creative Writing, she had a binder with story starter ideas that she collected from students. There was a column for Who, What, and Where. It’s a great way to start telling a story, especially if you are stuck. In the example below, A star athlete was stuck in a box beside a river. What kind of athlete? How did he/she get there? How will he/she get out? It jumpstarts your imagination and the story ideas flow. Be on the lookout for scenarios that will get your stories started.

You can download the prompts Ellen collected below!

Who from Binder

Where from Binder

What from Binder


Ask the Morning Book Club

I put a notice on Facebook asking for questions to ask the Morning Book Club. We got some great questions from authors like Laura Gehl, Marcie Colleen, Samantha Berger, Martha Brockenbrough, Sherri Duskey Rinker, Stacy McAnulty and Laura Gehl. Author/illustrators Joyce Wan, Lori Richmond and agent, Lori Kilkelly also had some questions.

Book Buzz

Books that I think didn’t get enough buzz.

This Is Not A Normal Animal Book
by Julie Segal-Walters and illustrated by Brian Biggs. I read this to a group of second graders and nearly had to scrape them off the floor from laughing.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist 
By Jess Keating and Marta Alvarez Miguens. This is a very interesting and inspiring biography.

Book Club Recommendations:

Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cutby Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James


Illustrator Gordon C. James crowned the boys in the morning book club the day we read the book! (I am not sure what this means)





Oliver Finds His Way by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Christopher Denise (out of print, but available at used bookstores)



After the Fall
by Dan Santat




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