For the past two days, students have been busy writing their short stories. Not everyone has been able to make their way to the end, but that's okay. Normally, authors don't work at a predetermined pace, but most students are now at a point where they can say their story is "done". But, now what?
Revising is an important part of the writing process. It is a part of the process that requires diligence, perseverance and patience. Some students may confuse this process with the editing phase, but revision is so much more. Today, we shared some examples of how revision can take an idea to the next level. Random students were selected to share random parts of their story and the class worked collectively to improve the structure and vocabulary of the examples. We likened this process to upgrading a feature on a home or a car. There is always more we can do to spruce up our writing.
Keys to a Successful Short Story
In order to ensure your story is effective, examine the follow criteria. Each important element comes with some reflection questions. If you can answer "Yes" to these questions, than you have created a successful. short story.
Content (planning phase)
Vocabulary (revision phase)
Sentence Structure (revision phase)
Organization (planning phase)
Conventions (editing phase)
Over the past few days, we have reviewed a few examples of different short stories. Some of them were quite basic, but getting there and some were quite awesome. Now, it is our turn to take a shot at our own short story. So, using the plan you created, let's take time to create our first paragraph. The first paragraph of a short story is very important. It introduces the character and any important flaw that character may possess. It also introduces (but doesn't fully explain) the problem this character will face.
The task: The first sentence will be a dialogue. Your character or another character will say something, that suggests a problem.
Example: (No Ski For Me)
I took the story I have shared with you verbally, and here is the introduction paragraph that I have come up with. I'm not confident it is as polished as I would like, so I will go back over it later, but for now, this is what I have:
"Why's everyone jumping up and down?", Richie asked his friend Jimmy. Richie noticed that Ms. Pinder was handing out what appeared to be a form. She started at the front of the room but he could see excitement growing as the forms began circulating around the Grade 6 classroom.
"I have no clue", replied Jimmy. Jimmy often had no clue what was going in class, but Richie instantly became nervous because he had heard rumours a big ski trip was in the planning stages at Fairview Elementary.
"I sure hope it isn't a permission form for the ski trip" whispered Richie to himself. The teacher laid the white piece of paper on Richie's desk and, in an instant, his fears came to life. He wondered what it was going to take to make all of this go away.
"This is going to rock!" exclaimed Jimmy who had only read the first sentence of the form. Richie felt his heart sink even deeper when Jimmy danced his way over to another group of cheering boys and began pantomiming what Richie could only guess were skiing moves.
What do you think? Can you follow this type of model for your first paragraph? That's the task. Complete your introductory paragraph to your story using Pages on your iPad.
So, now that we have covered some of the important elements that go into the creation of a short story, the next logical step is to begin planning our own short stories. I have created a simple planning template that will allow students to think ahead. On Monday, we will share our plans and one lucky student will have their plan chosen and we will use that plan to create a class example of a short story. Happy planning.
What makes a character interesting? That's the question that was posed to students. The response was strong and students communicated that a character's weaknesses or flaws are what made them interesting because their flaws brought about problems or drama. So, we began to create a list of potential flaws that our characters might possess. The key to developing a character is in how these flaws are communicated. The author could just say these are the flaws the character has, but a really good author will show these flaws through some description.
Here's the list we came up with:
We discussed the merits of using a character that was an animal. While it isn't against any short story golden rule, we did discuss the fact that animals come with certain stereotypes attached and that can make the establishment of that character a bit more challenging. (Owl = wise, snake = sneaky, etc.) Human characters allow a young writer to custom design a character that the reader will not already feel familiar with.
There are many ways to approach the writing of short stories, and the students from 6.1 and 6.2 have been engaged in conversations about the critical elements that need to be present. Today, we discussed the importance of perspective and verb tense. It was decided that the best choice was to use "omniscient third person" perspective and "past tense".
Omniscient third person means the narrator knows everything about all of the characters and tells the story from an "all-knowing" perspective. .
Past tense means the story has already taken place so all events have to be communicated in that manner. The only real complication comes when the author describes what a character said. When a character speaks in the story, they may be speaking in present tense, so this is something that needs to be approached with care. The use of quotations marks is very important so the reader understands the character is speaking and not the narrator.
A planning template
Different types of writing require different approaches. When planning a short story, this is a helpful pattern to follow:
SOMEBODY (The main character in your story)
SOMEWHERE (When and where does your story take place?)
WANTED (Your main character’s plans at the beginning of the story)
BUT (The problem or conflict that the main character must deal with. Be sure to show the impact of the problem or conflict on the main character)
SO (The resolution of the problem)
THEN (The story’s ending that shows how the main character has changed or has taken away from this experience)