Intro: To Kill a Mockingbird
After a journal/free-write on courage, we learned about our next author, Harper Lee, and how her famous manuscript almost became one with the slush-ridden New York City streets (it's true!).
As always, we spent time understanding the cultural and historical context of our next novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. We reviewed some basic facts about the Great Depression, viewed an important (read: will be on the final quiz) timeline of events from the 1930's to the 1960's, and took a few minutes to understand the Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War South.
Jazz Crosses Racial Boundaries: Billie Holiday (Strange Fruit)
Our side trip this week was on the topic of American Jazz. Jazz was born in the lower Mississippi Delta and was nourished in New Orleans. In the first decades of the twentieth century its emotional rhythms moved north with the Great Migration, a mass movement of Blacks from the South to urban areas seeking better opportunities and attempting to escape from rigid Jim Crow laws that held them in a state of virtual slavery. This distinctly American music, with an emphasis on improvisation, captured the spirit of the nation. The radio and phonograph had a major impact on Jazz’s popularity as improvisation and the spontaneity that typified the music was better conveyed through sound than sheet music. Although jazz musicians helped to erode racial prejudice, they were sometimes unable to break down long established barriers.
Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child," "Don't Explain," "Fine and Mellow," and "Lady Sings the Blues." She also became famous for singing "Easy Living," "Good Morning Heartache," and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and made famous with her 1939 recording. "Strange Fruit" was a cry for civil rights—some might even say it was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. This performance was in New York City, 1939 at the popular cabaret club, Café Society (where she could sing but she couldn't sit at the tables).
This biggest take-away from this week's class, other than understanding the context of our novel, is implementing Modern Language Association Format with regard to Works Cited (bibliography) at the end of all four of our essays this session.
A handout was given to students (example of a Works Cited page and reminders/bullet points). Everything you need to complete a successful Works Cited is on this handout. Please let me know if there is any confusion; I am always happy to clarify/answer additional questions.
Remember to check the syllabus for all homework (reading, vocab, short answer) and of course, the essay prompt. This week's prompt should not cause you much trouble. Remember to pick a character you admire. Identify three ethical qualities you admire about that character (we're still working in threes here to easily construct a five-paragraph essay) and support with quotes from the book. Don't forget everything you learned last session about citing sources within your essay. Now, you're going to add a Works Cited at the end. The only works cited for this paper will be quotes from the text; our next and last paper will require outside research, therefore, your first paper will only have one Works Cited entry--easy, right? Yes! :)
See you next Thursday!
A Last Look at Ántonia
We started our last class on My Ántonia with a writing prompt that asked us to imagine that we are moving to a foreign country and we don’t speak the language. The only people we will know there are our immediate families. We don’t know where we will live or what we will do for money. We then had to describe or make a list of the things our families would need to do to survive. This experience is similar to the one our heroine had, and it was great to hear all of the sound and useful ideas the students came up with: learn the language, attempt to network with people that might help us find work, be aware of any cultural differences or barriers, make sure we have the proper clothing for the environment we're moving to, and research what materials we could use to make shelter/housing . These are all things that Ántonia and her family faced and dealt with when they left their home in Bohemia for the Nebraska prairie.
Before sharing our family tree pages and final projects, we read a wonderful letter in the original words of Annie Sadilek (aka Anna Pavelka). The so-called "Letter to France Samlund" is a letter to a high school student at Benson High School in Omaha, Nebraska from Anna Pavelka. Anna, now eighty-six years old, tells the real story of her first year in Nebraska.
Anna Pavelka, whose maiden name was Anna Sadilek, is the woman on whom the character of Ántonia is based. Willa Cather and Anna Sadilek knew each other in the late 1880s, when Willa was attending school in Red Cloud and Anna was working for the Miner family who lived down the street from the Cathers. After a failed engagement with a railroad man, Anna married John Pavelka, who is the basis for Anton Cuzak in My Ántonia.
We took several minutes to compare the original letter with events at the beginning of the novel, particularly Book One, and defined and identified uses of verbal irony. Even though English wasn't Annie's first language and her spelling and punctuation were poor, she knew how to convey irony!
Next Up: Mockingbird (not Mockingjay)
Please make sure you have a copy of our last selection, To Kill a Mockingbird, and read the short summary from bestnotes.com.
See you on April 16. Have a wonderful Easter.
Family Tree Final Projects
To wrap up our study of My Ántonia and our look at the immigrant experience in America, we went around the table and shared as much of our family tree pages as we were able to complete, and talked about some of the countries our ancestors hail from. In this discussion alone we found out we have family members "in our trees" from Germany, Italy, England, and Palestine!
Now and then it all comes together and there is a singular moment when the stars align and there is magic. We were honored that the grandmother of one of our students shared her very poignant memories of growing up in the German Province of Bohemia. Her memories have some similarities with those of our heroine, Ántonia, in terms of some of the difficulties faced in her home country and when emigrating to America. It's when these real life experiences affirm art that we start to understand that reading literature is a personal experience and so much more than an exercise in understanding story content, theme, and tone. That's when we really "own" a story and it becomes real to us on a whole new level.
If you would like to enjoy these stories, see below by clicking READ MORE...
Analyzing Books Three - Five
We finished up our discussion of our novel, My Ántonia, with a thorough review of the events and details of Books Three - Five. Make sure you are familiar with the novel before our final quiz by reviewing your active reading charts and short answer questions.
For the final quiz, you will need to recall story content, study the Key Facts handout, and all vocabulary from the Glencoe Guide. You also need to know the meaning of elegiac and nostalgic.
Related Readings: Virgil and The House on Mango Street
"Optima dies...prima fugit." The best days...are the first to flee.
The above quote comes from the Georgics, an instructive poem written about farming by the epic Roman poet Virgil and translates to "The best days…are the first to flee." Jim studies Virgil when he's away at college and specifically mentions this line at the end of Book 3, Chapter 2. It also happens to be the epigraph. There are two major connections to My Ántonia in this epigraph. The first is the actual line – the best days are the first to flee. My Ántonia is a romanticized look back at the past, and the fleeting nature of youth is a major theme in the novel. Jim in particular is enamored of long-gone better days. The second connection has to do with the source of this quote, the Georgics. In this lengthy poem, Virgil discusses the virtues of the farming life while teaching his readers the best way to live off the land. The relationship between man and the natural world is another central theme in the novel. Part of the romantic veneer of Jim's memoir has to do with his admiration for the vast, beautiful open spaces of the Nebraska landscape. There is also a connection here to Cather's own life, because she studied Latin and Greek herself both in high school and in college. We can see Cather's own love for these ancient languages reflected in Jim's passion, and of course in this choice of epigraph.
Virgil was the master of metaphorical language and is known for his epic use of simile. To drive home this concept we did a couple of fun exercises where we "Built a Better Metaphor" and a "Fill in the Blank" simile exercise. Both were good for several laughs!
To wrap things up, we read five selections from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. From Amazon.com: "Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers." If you can grab a copy at the library, I think it's well worth taking an hour or two to read through some of these short sketches.
Final Project - Family Tree Essay
Analyzing Book Two
We had a good discussion yesterday of Book Two of My Ántonia. We talked about the "hired girls" and how they were different from the townspeople in Black Hawk. They were always the daughters of immigrant farmers from the country and some worked as domestics, some in hotels, some were dressmakers, and some "laundry girls." They sent money home to help with expenses, and in some cases were able to provide wood frame homes for their families that had up until that time been living in sod houses on the prairie.
We also discussed some of the plot that wasn't too clear and set up our discussion of Book Three for next week. Finish the novel this week and check your syllabus for all homework.
Literary Devices Exercise
Before discussing our next essay assignment we read a short Langston Hughes poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." Our challenge was to identify the number of times simile, metaphor, and personification were used. Mr. Langston was fond of figurative language (see quote at left for a good example!).
We agreed personification is typically easy to spot, while occasionally simile vs. metaphor can be a bit trickier! Remember the definitions of each and that simile uses connective words such as "like," "as," or "than," or sometimes a verb like "resembles."
Figurative Language Essay
We spent a good half-hour looking through our novel for figurative language. We divided Book One into five parts and each student was tasked with finding two examples each of imagery or personification, simile, and metaphor. Again, metaphor was our Achilles heel, but everyone found brilliant examples of imagery, personification, and simile that they can use for this week's essay assignment.
To help you, here is a re-cap of what we discussed and an outline you can follow to complete your essay.
Essay Assignment: How important is figurative language to Willa Cather’s writing style? How does Cather’s use of imagery (or figurative language) communicate the themes of her novel?
First sentence(s): Address the first question--here are some things to think about: What would the novel be like without the extensive use of figurative language? Would it be as interesting to read? How does her language help you see in your mind's eye what the Nebraska prairie looks like? What about the characters? How does it help you get to know them? Hint: the answer to the first question is really in the second question. Figurative language is important because it communicates the theme(s) of the novel.
Your thesis statement can be the answer to the second question. Refer to the worksheet that we completed in class and remember the discussions we had about how the figurative language communicates or relates to the different themes.
As a reminder the themes we are focusing on are: humankind’s relationship to the past; humankind’s relationship to the environment; the immigrant experience in America
Preview the three types of figurative language you found (simile, metaphor, personification?) and what theme(s) you think they convey (these can be your three points). Remember the introduction should preview or forecast what you're going to talk about.
Three Body Paragraphs:
Use the worksheet to guide you in selecting the three quotes you want to use. Remember the proper citation after the quote--author and page number (for example; Cather, 12). Do not use a quote that is longer than four lines when you type it out, a longer quote than four lines is very unwieldy and you really want to narrow your focus on the bit of figurative language that conveys the theme(s).
It would be ideal to use one of each: personification or imagery (remember imagery is a word or phrase that refers to the five senses and helps create a physical experience), simile, and metaphor. If you end up using two metaphor and one simile, or some other combination, that is fine. State the type of figurative language you found and work the quote into your paragraph. Tell me how you think the quote communicates the theme(s). This will be the most challenging part, and can be your own opinion, just make sure it is logical!
Remember to pad with your own writing as much as possible. There is plenty of room here for personal opinion and interpretation. Repeat the above for paragraphs three and four.
Does not have to be overly structured. Review and restate in new language the three types of figurative language you covered and how they communicated the theme(s) of the novel. Wrap up with a brief summation of why figurative language is important to Willa Cather's writing style.
If you get stuck, email me and I will do my best to guide you through! See you next week. Two more classes and we have a one week Easter break before our final session!
After analyzing the Introduction and Book One of My Ántonia, we moved into an exercise on characterization. We talked about how, in real life, we get to know what a person is all about. We came up with a list that included actions, clothing, family life, favorite foods, location, names, occupation, physical appearances, props, social status, speech and dialogue, and thoughts and opinions.
We also reviewed the definitions of round and flat characters and direct and indirect characterization. After giving a few examples, I had the students think of a friend or acquaintance and describe him/her using at least three different types of characterization--same person, but three different sentences. After writing the three sentences, they chose the one they liked the best, shared it with the group, and then we decided which tool of characterization was used. Some were obvious and some more subtle. Some even used two types of characterization.
We then moved on to identifying direct vs. indirect characterization and tools of characterization in three different excerpts from popular literature (The Lorax, Hunger Games, and Harry Potter). This demonstrated that the author uses these tools so that the reader can learn important information about his/her characters. We applied our newfound knowledge to My Ántonia by choosing one main character and one supporting character, locating a quote within the text, and then performing the same steps of analyses as we did with the popular fiction. Hopefully this gave students some experience in quote identification for our next essay...
We talked about characterization because our next essay focuses on the characterization of the heroine of our story--Ántonia Shimerda. In crafting your essays this week, follow the Expository Essay Guide that I made for you, but bear in mind these very important modifications:
Introduction: Follow the guide; you still need a thesis, but not necessarily a thesis with tension since we are not really making a debatable claim this time--this is a character analysis. Remember the thesis is the controlling idea of the paper. Try not to simply state the obvious--a thesis statement should be a fresh idea or opinion that is supportable based on facts or evidence taken from the story. This may take some work, since in this case, the thesis statement is not an assertion to a question that was posed. The three points you are making can simply be what we discussed in class--that Ántonia is high-spirited, proud, and generous. If you feel that is debatable, and you want to make a claim that she has different personality traits, that is up to you!
Second - Fourth Paragraphs: Each point should have a quote from the book that supports the claim (she is "high-spirited" for paragraph 2, "proud" for paragraph 3, and "generous" for paragraph 4). After the quote from the book, place the author's last name and page number like this:
"After Ántonia had said the new words over and over, she wanted to give me a little chased silver ring she wore on her middle finger. When she coaxed and insisted, I repulsed her quite sternly. I didn't want her ring, and I felt there was something reckless and extravagant about her wishing to give it away to a boy she had never seen before" (Cather, 23).
Don't use more than four lines of text per quote and don't simply start the paragraph with the quote. It will be up to you to craft the paragraph in such a way that you use your own writing to explain why the quote supports the point. This is a less formulaic approach than our last essay.
Conclusion: You can follow the guide pretty exactly for the conclusion, although you do not necessarily need to "take a stand" or "persuade the reader" for this essay.
Any questions or confusion, just email me!
Warming up with Willa
After our three-minute free-write in our journals (we start every class this way; it gets us warmed up and underscores a topic or theme found in the novel we are reading/discussing at the moment), we conducted our usual 'round-the-table open notebook quiz on the background reading found in the Glencoe Guide.
Willa Cather did not want her novels to be read as veiled autobiography, but My Ántonia parallels many of her life’s experiences. Many literary scholars argue that Jim Burden is Willa Cather. For example, Jim and Cather both left Virginia as young children and lived on the Nebraska prairie. Cather’s family then moved to Red Cloud a year later; Jim’s family moves to the fictional town, Black Hawk. Cather gave her high school graduation speech, as does Jim; then they both studied at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. After graduation, they leave Nebraska for the east: Jim to study law at Harvard; Cather to work as editor at Home Monthly in Pittsburgh.
I love this quote from Cather:
Art must spring out of the very stuff that life is made of. The German housewife who sets before her family on Thanksgiving day a perfectly roasted goose, is an artist. The farmer who goes out in the morning to harness his team, and pauses to admire the sunrise—he is an artist.
We talked about this quote's meaning. How can a housewife be an artist if she hasn't painted anything? How is a farmer an artist if he's simply admiring the sunset? Cather was an author who was captivated by the simplicity of prairie life and expressed her thoughts in words that truly approach poetry. Cather quotes are absolutely life affirming. H.L. Mencken said, “No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as MY ANTONIA.”
As you read, notice places in the novel that are written in such a way as to conjure up a particular image. Re-read these parts to understand them better. Roll the images about in your mind. Taking the time to enjoy the novel in this way is not only far more engaging but (hint) will help you with another essay coming up in a few weeks!
In preparation for our expository essay writing assignment this week, we took some time to understand what makes a good paraphrase. Each student was to select a piece of research that they had identified as being valuable in providing points and particulars for their five-paragraph essay on the topic of immigration.
We read our articles with a view to choosing a point that we could put into our own words. We wanted to look for a point, not just a comment. A comment not worth paraphrasing will not have a specific fact or unique idea to contribute. Look for facts, data, statistics, or conclusions built on those things. Expert opinion also qualifies. (Be sure to include their qualifications: see Citing Sources below). Paraphrasing means taking ideas and putting them into your own words and sentence structure. The length and style of the sentence should be maintained, but the language and structure should be different.
We then chose the quote or piece of information that we wanted to practice paraphrasing and wrote it out exactly as it appeared. Then, on a separate sheet, we wrote out our own version WITHOUT looking at the original. We shared the original and then our paraphrase. These usually need more than one attempt. After the first attempt, you can go ahead and look at the original quote and try a second draft. I actually think all the students did pretty well on their first draft and some even had time for a second attempt. I wanted to practice summarizing as well, but that will have to wait for another day and time.
Important: Citing Sources
At the end of class we went over a guide to expository essay writing that I put together for the students. Please read the sample essay one time all the way through just to get the meaning. The second time compare the essay to the guide to see how this particular student followed the steps to complete the essay. Do not attempt to write an expository essay without reading one first. Would you attempt to write out instructions on how to ride a bike without knowing how to ride one yourself? Writing an expository essay without ever having read one is just as silly!
Once we become more comfortable with essay writing (e.g., next year) we can relax the formulaic approach. For now, follow the steps and you'll have success!
You will need this information to cite sources correctly for this essay:
Researchers place brief parenthetical descriptions to acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the last name of the author and page number if it’s from a book. If it's from the Internet, you will just put the author's name in parenthesis after the quote or bit that you are paraphrasing or summarizing. PLEASE UNDERSTAND, EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT USING A DIRECT QUOTE YOU MUST GIVE CREDIT. If such information is already given in the body of your sentence, then you don't need a parenthetical citation. Ideally, when citing on-line sources, try to reference the source within your sentence, with either the author or the title to avoid writing a parenthetical citation. Otherwise, place the parenthetical citation where there is a pause in the sentence – normally before the end of a sentence or a comma. If there is no author, use the title that begins the citation, either the article or website title. Be sure it also takes the same formatting as non on-line sources, i.e. articles are in quotes and website titles are italicized.
Next session we will learn how to include a "Works Cited" at the end of your paper (the bibliography).
Example of information taken from the Internet and you know the author's name:
The economy will rebound with the new monetary policies (Smith).
Example when you do not know the author's name, but you know the title of the article OR name of web-site:
Elephants are thought to be one of the smartest mammals (“Smart Elephants”). This came from an article--use quotes so I know it was an article.
Most importantly, if this is not clear, please ask. Citing sources is required for this paper--either within the sentence itself (preferred for on-line sources) or in-line parenthetically as described above.
Good luck and see you next week!
The Expository Essay
We spent the bulk of our time yesterday reviewing thesis with tension, crafting practice theses statements, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of leaving one's home country for a new one, and how to find points and particulars for an expository essay! We also briefly introduced our new author, Willa Cather, and talked about the inspiration for her heroine, Antonia Shimerda whom we will be meeting through our reading this week.
Thesis with Tension
As discussed at our last class, a thesis with tension "...means the reader has a sensation of being stretched from a familiar, unsurprising idea to a new, surprising one..." (Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing 44).
A thesis with tension (for our purposes) should begin with the sentence starters "although" or "whereas" with the first part of the sentence stating the claim you're going to refute, and the second part of the sentence (or clause) asserting the view that your paper is going to prove or support.
To practice thesis with tension one last time, everyone posed another question and wrote another thesis statement on a second topic that they had chosen to explore at our last meeting. The questions were excellent! We shared our theses and I think everyone gets the general idea. I was able to give some feedback so that hopefully our non-practice theses statements will be on target.
The Homestead Movement and Bohemian and Swedish Immigrants
We then read over two handouts on the Homestead Movement and the Bohemian and Swedish immigrants that came to prairie country in the latter part of the 19th-early 20th centuries. We learned where Bohemia used to be and discussed these handouts in context with our first expository essay assignment which is on the topic of leaving one's home country for a new one. Students can take this topic in many different directions and we spent a few minutes brainstorming verbally and then writing down some of those thoughts that stemmed from our discussion.
Following the outline I provided, students should create their thesis with tension for the immigration essay and email it to me for help if needed. A few are ready to go with their theses, but if they need to do some further research before deciding on the final version, that is more than fine. After crafting the thesis with tension, students should continue with their research and fill out the "Points and Particulars" portion of their handouts.
As I told the students, if they want to take an alternative view on this topic, that is fine! The evidence they find may lead them to make a surprising, unexpected statement.
We’ll talk more about paraphrasing and summarizing our particulars next week, so don’t worry about that now. For the worksheet, these particulars can be just one or two sentences, but make a note about where you found the information so you can go back to it later. You can make these reference notes on the index cards I gave you or computer. Print (or bookmark) at least one article or piece of information you used to fill in the outline and BRING IT TO CLASS NEXT WEEK. We’ll be practicing paraphrasing and summarizing using the research you found, so YOU'VE GOT TO COME PREPARED!
Any questions, email me! See you next week.
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!
This is a forum where you can ask questions about your writing projects. We'll do our best to answer them or post helpful links to get you pointed in the right direction. Occasionally we may feature exceptional pieces of writing, such as poems or short stories/essays. To ask a question or to submit a piece for consideration, please email your question or writing piece to: