Sunday, October 23, 2016

My Author Visit at Brent International School Manila and Some Writing Tips for the Grade One Students of the Early Learning Center

With Ms. Tamayao and her staff at the ELC Library
I was at Brent International School Manila last week for an Author Visit. It was my first at Brent ISM and it was their first time to host a Filipino author. Thanks to Ms. Tericel Tamayao who invited me to visit and to talk to students in the Early Learning Center (ELC). The event was a lot of fun! Lampara Books, my publisher, displayed and sold my books during the book fair since the event was part of the Booklatan sa Brent, a three day bookish event highlighting Filipiniana.

My program was very simple. I did an author talk and told stories. What made it really special was the question and answer portion of the program. One of the grade one teachers asked me for tips on writing since they have a unit on writing a personal narrative. My answers were very practical.

I told them to:
1. Write everyday. Keeping a journal helps me in generating ideas as well as maintaining the brain ready for writing. My blog is my online journal. I have a notebook I carry with me every day where I write random thoughts.

2. Write what you know. My stories come from personal experiences.

3. If words are difficult to come by, draw! Do some art.

4. Talk. Conversations help me a lot because writing involves a lot of thinking. Keeping all the ideas in your head can get stuck there and it will stagnate. Talking to someone helps in shaping ideas and in the growth of stories.

5. Listen for feedback even if you are only beginning with an idea for a story.

A letter from one of the grade 1 students of the ELC of Brent ISM. Happiness!

Sadly, the time was too short to tell them more. So, here are some additions that may prove helpful.

a. Just write. Making your story  neat and clean can be done later on.

b. Having said this, remember that writing is a process. It begins with pre-writing; the writing of the story; revision and editing; and publishing. Much of what I said in 1-5 are pre-writing exercises. Here is an infographic to further help you in becoming aware of the writing process. Your teacher and parent can be a big help in helping you follow through the steps. This would mean that you would be spending a good amount of time when writing your story or a topic that you like.

c. A story has three basic parts: the beginning, the middle and the end. In your personal story, ask yourself what happened first. After that, what was next? Was there a problem? Was it solved? How did you feel? At last, tell us how it ended.

Once a grade one student of mine wrote about eating a delicious cake. His story went like this:

BEGINNING - I ate a piece of chocolate cake. It was yummy!

MIDDLE - I drank a glass of milk. My tummy hurt. I went to the bathroom and threw up. I felt awful. Mom made me drink a lot of water and I took a medicine.

END - I rested for a while, then, I farted! I felt better.

When I read the story with him, we were laughing. I asked him if all the words work well in each parts. Guess which word we changed during the revision stage?

d. Keep an open mind when your family, your teacher and friend send feedback or comments. Some comments are good and many are given so you can write better.


Writing is not easy, but it can be enjoyable. I love writing because I have stories to share. When I share stories, I realize I am not alone. I get to understand myself better and at the same time, I take in the perspectives of others. How similar we all are! This only goes to show how, despite the differences among people of color, race, religion and culture, we share the same humanity. We are all humans. We are all peoples of the world.

Share your story! Start writing!

Infographic Source:

Zarah Gagatiga conducts one-on-one writing workshops for K-12 and runs writing camps in the summer. The 2017 calendar is open for reservations. Get in touch via

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