We wrapped up our six week session today by finishing the round of critiques that we started last week. By now, everyone should have received critique on at least one story, and depending on how many pieces you have given me, will be receiving all final critique by the end of this week. If you have not sent me three pieces yet, there is still time! I am happy to continue working with you over the summer. In addition, all pieces can be revised and/or edited and re-sent to me for a second look.
Thank you so much for creating and sharing your work with our circle of writers! It really has been an honor to hear your stories each week and work with you individually on developing your talents even further.
Publishing to The Writer's Community
After revising/editing, students may send me their favorite story from this course and I will publish here on The Writer's Community where they can share and/or tweet to friends and followers.
Next week I will send out an email with my recommendation of which pieces I think should be published. The students are free to make a different choice, or decline to publish. I do think it would be a great record of their work!
Free Writing for Fun
We closed class with two free writing exercises. For the first, each student was given one word and three minutes to write something, anything, about that word. I was really impressed with the quality of the writing that emerged in such a short time and I think everyone agreed that they would have loved more time to develop their ideas.
The second free write involved images. Students chose one or two images that I had prepared ahead of time, and wrote for five minutes. Again, we had some really interesting ideas! For this free write, students could choose to begin a story, write a poem, or simply describe what was in the picture.
Free writing is a great activity for the summer! Have students select a block of time, say five minutes, and write from a word, images, or a prompt. The only rule with free writing is that you don't stop writing until the timer goes off and that you do it consistently. Even if you write nonsense, the idea is to keep the words coming without hesitation. This will come in handy later when students are expected to write in a more formal environment. It will help them "think on their feet."
Have fun and enjoy your summer!
Sharing and Critique
After a couple of students read their short stories this afternoon, I jumped right into sharing my feedback on three of the stories I received on Friday. My comments are highlighted in yellow and are suggestions for further developing each piece. In most cases, I have also made notes when I see punctuation or other minor errors cropping up. Primarily, I want to focus on each student becoming a better writer. They will become better self-editors the more they write and the more time they take to review their own work. In all cases, I have asked the writers to think more deeply about their characters, plots, dialogue, and story details. They may wish to make these changes and send their stories back to me for a second review. There is no deadline for the second review -- I'm here and ready to help when they've had a chance to implement their edits.
This applies to the two stories they sent me on Friday. If they haven't yet sent me two stories -- please have them do so by today, Monday, May 12. Any feedback that I don't get to by Monday, May 19, will be emailed to you shortly thereafter.
Review and Revision -- Final Project
Since today's class was all about feedback and reviewing and revising our work, we spent some time discussing what edits the students need to make. We talked about macro-editing and what that entails. I provided everyone with a handout which lists different things they should be looking for when revising their final project. Which bring me to…
The Final Project: Students are to select a third piece that they have written during this course and review and revise it based on the macro-editing guidelines. It cannot be one of the two pieces they have already sent me. This final project should be emailed to me no later than Friday, May 16.
To re-cap, by the end of our six weeks together we will:
I have truly enjoyed each and every one of your children, and have so enjoyed getting to know them and listening to their wonderful stories. See you Monday!
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!