Teen Short Story Writing Circle 2014-05-05

Sharing and Critique

I had the pleasure of hearing three very good short stories today — all were different, but each had great story lines and have the potential to be developed into even better pieces. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing these again, as I’d love to take another look and be able to give more detailed feedback. 

Students — please be sure to read the homework note at the end of this post for more information about getting some of your work to me by this coming Friday (May 9).

Dialogue, Take 2

We spent the rest of class practicing writing dialogue and discussing certain dos and don’ts, as well as some basic dialogue punctuation rules. 

First, we did a fun exercise that I call “Dialogue Mash-up.” We were given two lines of random dialogue that were to form the middle of a story. Half the class wrote one – two lines of dialogue that could come before the snippets and the other half wrote the dialogue that might come after the snippets. We then “mashed” them together to see what we had come up with. Even though the students were all thinking of different plot lines, surprisingly the dialogue made sense in many cases! Most importantly, everyone was able to correctly write dialogue that followed the flow of the random snippets. We had some fun with this, and the kids did a great job of coming up with some fun and creative dialogue!

We then learned a few tips, including showing your characters feelings through their words instead of the dialogue tag. For instance, try to avoid tags such as “she said angrily,” and show us how the character speaks instead of telling it. This is something new writers tend to need more practice with. It’s perfectly okay to use the simplest dialogue tags (say, tell, and ask). In other words, try to rely on spoken words to get emotions across instead of the dialogue tag.

Lastly, we practiced punctuating dialogue by writing two lines of dialogue that related to our invented characters from the first day of class. Our invented characters have been following us along nicely for the last three weeks. Who knows what they’ll do next!

I collected these papers and will check for correct dialogue punctuation, returning them next class. Which brings me to the last and most important bit from today…



Homework — Students Please Read!

By Friday, May 9, please email me two of the stories you have written thus far (one can be the story you write this week: see Three Elements Challenge handout from today for ideas). If you are writing one continuous story, make sure you are adding to it weekly – in this case, you may email me the story after next week, instead. 

Make sure to follow the formatting requirements. Before you send to me, proof your work for content and punctuation, grammar, spelling and paragraphing. Reading pieces aloud usually helps tremendously with self-editing. Next week we will devote part of our class to Review and Revision. I will also give everyone individual feedback on at least one of their stories. 

Please email me your third and final story for critique no later than Friday, May 16 (I’ll remind everyone again next week). At our last class I will continue to give feedback on individual pieces and we’ll do some fun in-class writing exercises. Any feedback that I don’t give by our last class, I will email to everyone individually.

If you have a piece ready to go, please feel free to email me prior to Friday — I appreciate any extra time so I can give as much detailed feedback as possible. Thank you!

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