NOTE: There should be no core writing this week.
I. Explain that stories need to be planned in advance, that there are certain decisions we must make before writing a story through. That the way an author makes an ending satisfying to the reader is that he “prepares for the End from the beginning.”
Explain that most writers modify their plans as they write, because a story must also evolve and allow the writer to explore a wide range of possibilities. Stress that in planning, but more importantly, in writing a story through, students allow their impulses to guide them. One can give them the confidence they need to do this by providing step-by-step support and guidance, and by encouraging them individually.
Point out that a story has a beginning, a middle (the body), and an end.
II. Students brainstorm their ideas for a short story. Have them try clustering, listing, or a method of their own. For students who are less motivated, one can bring in a tape recorder and have them brainstorm verbally with the teacher. Freewriting, with the purpose of brainstorming, is not recommended yet. Students tend to “spill out,” rather than put in perspective their ideas, and then become discouraged from developing them.
Use brainstorming to help students:
(a) . . . decide how well they know, and what they need to know in order to write convincingly about their characters. Point out that writers don’t write about characters who are completely “made up.” Explain that a character may often have half the physical characteristics of one person, half of another’s, and a combination of personality traits. Stress that characters “make” a story, that “life for human beings is our universal subject . . . ”
T.D. Allen recommends that:
It is a good idea for a beginning writer to have an actual picture of his n¥in character before him. If he can draw, fine; or, he may want to use the appearance of a person in a magazine picture. Perhaps he will paste it on a page on which he lists other characteristics that he has fitted together to round out a real character.
(b) . . . decide what kind of action they will use to reveal to the reader the kind of person the main character is. Assist them
(c) . . . decide on a main conflict that will make the reader care about the story and the characters.
(d) . . . decide where the story takes place. Help students explore settings that contribute to the main conflict of their story,
(e) . . . decide, for the body of the story, what kind of attempts their main characters will make to solve the main conflict.
(f) . . . decide how the main conflict will be resolved; which of the main character’s attempts to solve the conflict will result in the solution.
III. Students can begin to write the beginning and body of their short story after they have finished planning. The entire time allotted for core writing this week will be invested in this project. Make sure students are allowed enough time to develop their ideas, and that individual progress has been accommodated.
Assign a length that is both comfortable and flexible. It may be more useful to have students write their first short story in the third person point of view. They should have the least possible characters. This project will, also, be more manageable if the story takes place within one day.
Students should be able to write a story that:
takes place within one day;
has employed autobiography as a resource and/or point of departure;
is based partly on personal experience, and partly on fiction prompts reader involvement;
uses the five senses in descriptions;
reveals to the reader aspects of the main character’s personality;
has produced convincing characters in convincing circumstances;
in the process of writing, has inspired the act of discovery;
and, has enabled the teacher to use students’ individual stumbling blocks as a tool for learning about problem-solving, as well as the writing process.
IV. To balance this week’s load of writing, students can begin to read “Crysalis,” Ray Bradbury’s science fiction story in
S is for Space.
(Present a brief profile of the writer. Note that Bradbury began writing early in life, and some of his stories were written and published when he was very young.)
“Chrysalis” is an engaging story about a man who is mistaken for being dead. He is actually undergoing a metamorphosis, which Rockwell and Hartley attempt desperately to unravel. It is well and simply written, vividly descriptive. Students enjoy the suspense and intrigue that build to its end. They should be able to read it in two sittings. This is a perfect model for showing how, by preparing the end of a story from the beginning, we can achieve a satisfying, imaginative, and convincing outcome. A considerable part of the group discussion should involve this, particularly, while students make plans for their short story.