Friday, March 13, 2015

Show Me the Way: Mentor Texts as Lights into Our Writing by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Most of us are writers because somewhere, probably at a very young age, we grew to love books. Some of us even went to sleep with books. Others of us stayed up late reading with a flashlight under the covers. That “flashlight reading” led us to worlds we could only imagine and led us on adventures bigger than life. 

As you write, I hope you still go to bed with books. But I also hope that you are reading, not just to escape to other worlds, but I also hope that you are spending some time shedding light on HOW those stories are put together.

As writers, we no longer just “read like readers” we also need to “read like writers.” The more we read, the stronger our writing can become. 

And books—the same ones we love to read—can be come the flashlights that show us the way in our writing. 

When I get blocked in my writing, I read. 

When I lose confidence in myself as a writer, I read.

When I write but I know I haven’t found the right way into my story yet, I read. 

It’s in those moments, when I hold tightly to stories, that I find my way. 

Reading like a writer, or using books as mentor texts, can be a liberating experience. 

It can shed light on issues in your own writing or inspire you in your own writing. 
As I read like a writer, I often find myself saying: 
“Oh that’s how she did it!” 
“Wow! I want to write like that!”
“I want my book to have THIS kind of feel.” 

This may sound kine of loosey-goosey, but people who know me well, know I’m pretty practical. It’s when I find a text that gives me that “a-ha” moment that I really study it. What is it about that book that gives me that “a-ha” moment?
Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of mentor text posts from the “What is a mentor text” type post to “How to use word play in your writing” post with lots of examples. 

But the problem was all of my mentor text posts were scattered all over my site, the GROG, and several other people’s sites where I did guest posts. So I put them altogether in one printable e-book: “Mentor Texts for Writers: Book 1.” 

This book is where I take my flashlight and I try to show you how to use mentor texts to help you improve your own writing. 

You get to take books you love, find out what makes you love them so much, and use them to help you become a better writer. 

For a preview, click here. It’s also being offered as a prize for our Grog 1 Year Anniversary. 

I hope that using mentor texts will show you the way to become a better writer. 

Previous GROG Posts on Mentor Texts

Help Me Help You

What are things that you struggle with as a writer? Leave me a note in the comments. I’ve already started brainstorming book 2 and I’d love to know what you’d like me to include. 


  1. I find myself saying the same things, Marcie: Oh THAT's how the author did it; oh WOW! and how can I write like this? Thanks for the wonderful post.

  2. I love your posts on mentor texts! I find them especially useful for beginnings and endings and also for transitions within the text.

    1. Yes, I've been studying endings myself. :) Thanks for the sweet words! :)

  3. Excellent resource, Marcie. Worth it's weight in gold. It's on my list!

  4. Great information Marcie. Thanks. I can't wait to read your book. I love learning from others!

  5. Marcie: As an educator I have always found value in using picture books as mentor texts for many purposes in my lessons. Participating in ReFoReMo has encouraged me to study, see what works and learn more as I continue to hone the craft of writing for kids. Your e-book, Mentor Texts for Writers, looks like an outstanding resource. ~Suzy

    1. Thanks, Suzy! I know ReFoReMo has pushed me a little farther too. :)

  6. Thank you Marcie for putting together in one place. I am excited to dig into your book. ReFoReMo is loading me with a lot of mentor texts and this helps put order to the information I have collected.

  7. Great advice! Thank you! :)

  8. Appreciations for this GRE8T eyedeer of collecting your pleasure of mentor text treasure all in one handy gift box of a book!