Teen Short Story Writing Circle 2014-04-28

Sharing and Critique

We kicked-off class today by sharing three more short stories. First, I am very happy that the students are writing more than just the bare minimum. Everyone seems engaged, enthused, and hopefully — inspired! We will continue taking turns sharing our weekly at-home writing — some weeks we may be able to squeeze in slightly more stories, or slightly less. I am keeping track of how many times each student has shared, and will make sure everyone has equal voice by the time we wrap-up on the 19th!

Second, the group is also becoming slightly more comfortable with the critique process. This is really difficult to master, and only becomes easier with time and practice. Hopefully, in the next four weeks we’ll gain more confidence and be able to share more freely with one another. When you’re trying to become a better writer yourself, it’s not always easy to give another writer specific suggestions. Through this give and take process (give critique constructively and receive it graciously) we all can become better writers.

Specific Detail

The next element of story-writing that we covered today was using specific detail to help control the reader’s imagination. The more information you give the reader, the closer the reader’s mental picture will be to the one you intended. 

After a speedy grammar review (nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs) we read some examples of using and abusing adjectives and adverbs. Ultimately, “saying it” with fewer words that pack the most punch is strategically a better choice. We don’t want to weigh down our readers with clunky and overloaded text. We also don’t want to be too cryptic either! Using detail in just the right way is probably one of the most challenging aspects of writing, and I’ll be giving each individual student more specific feedback on his or her pieces in the final two weeks.

Before moving on, everyone wrote one sentence that gave as much detail as possible (without over-using adjectives or adverbs). This was trickier than we thought — some were spot-on, some were nearly-there, all were on the right track.

Writing Great Dialogue

We finished up the day by starting our unit on dialogue — what it should sound like and when to use it. I gave everyone a handout which reviews some of the dos and donts of dialogue writing. They may want to refer to it if they choose one of the Dialogue Prompts from the homework sheet.

Next week we’ll practice by writing dialogue in class!


Prompt choices this week are Specific Detail, Dialogue, continue working on any story you have started at home or in class, or start a new one. If you are writing one continuous story, just make sure that you are adding to it weekly.

See you next Monday!