Monday, August 22, 2016

Write your own WOW story

Guest Post by Mary Amato

In my latest book, Our Teacher is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories, the kids in Mrs. Penrose’s classroom get advice from their favorite author about how to write a great story. The author teaches them a simple process that she calls writing a WOW story. 

I developed the idea of the WOW story after reading Aristotle in graduate school. WOW is my easy way of remembering what the wise philosopher had to say about what makes stories work. WOW stories have three parts: a main character who wants something, an obstacle that gets in the way, and a win by the main character at the end. Here’s an example.

Want: A cat wants a saucer of milk.
Obstacle: A dog gets in the way.
Win: The cat sings the dog a lullabye; the dog falls asleep; and the cat wins by getting the milk.

Want to write a WOW story of your own? To write this story, think about what kind of personality traits your cat and dog might have. Is your cat shy or sassy? Is your dog grumpy or mean? Do your characters talk? What do their voices sound like? Think about where the story takes place. Inside a cozy house? In a scary, dark alley? Close your eyes and imagine the story like a little movie in your mind. Then open your eyes and try to write it.

You can also come up with your own ideas for WOW stories.

Make a Wow Book

In Our Teacher is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories, students write WOW stories and make them into books over their spring break. You can make a book, too. You will need sheets of blank paper of any size and a stapler.

Fold a few pages of paper in half so that it looks like a book and staple it twice on the outside along the fold line. (If your paper is wider than 3 inches, you’ll need a long-arm stapler to reach the fold line.)

To make your WOW book have a special look and feel, use one sheet of thicker, colored paper on top for the cover. After you fold it, put black masking tape on the fold to make a decorative reinforcement. Then you can staple it on the outside of your book along the fold line.

 Write your title on the front and your WOW story inside.

BIO: Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in Ohio, Minnesota, Utah, and Arizona. She teaches popular workshops on writing and the creative process around the country. Visit her online at

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