South Orangetown Central School District

Award-winning author Ellen Potter shared writing tips with Cottage Lane Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade writers during a virtual visit yesterday!

“The best way to turn a reluctant reader into a voracious reader is to have them fall in love with a series,” noted K-5 Instructional Literacy Coach Kristy Nadler. “Ellen Potter is a series writer who primarily writes limited number series, which allows students to complete the series and grow as readers. Ellen has also written two books for young writers to improve their skills. One is focused on how she deals with problems all writers face. It is important for students to know that writing can be an arduous task for even accomplished writers. She shared strategies to overcome those challenges which our students can also use.”

Students filled the chat with questions for Potter, ranging from how long it takes to write a book to what type of research goes into a new project. “Research is one of my favorite parts of writing,” Potter said, recounting a lobster fishing expedition she took for the “Piper Green and the Fairy Tree” series. “I like to research things I’m not familiar with so that I can learn about them. You can find information on the internet, but there’s nothing like experiencing something in person.”

Daily life experience can also be a great source of material. Nearly all the characters in her “Olivia Kidney” series are based on Potter’s own neighbors in the apartment building where she grew up. “I wrote descriptions of people I knew in journals when I was a kid,” she explained. “Keep journals! You are living through these unusual times. It’s special and strange, so write about it. It’s easy to forget things when time goes by.”

Author Ellen Potter