My 10th graders get to write a short story for me. This goes along with our goals for the 10th grade, which includes writing a narrative. Most of the teachers fulfill this assignment by having the students write a "personal reflection," a story where they contemplate the importance of a formative event in their lives. The reflection essay is a pretty good assignment, if the student gets into it, but I think they've done this kind of autobiographic writing half a dozen times before they become a sophomore. Another problem is that it's not imaginative. I mean, the kids are not supposed to be making stuff up.
Half the fun is making stuff up!
So, here is the assignment I've given them. For some kids, if I just said, "Write a story," that would be all the guidelines they need. For many, though, they need some parameters. Here's the entire assignment. How would you do on it? Would you like this assignment or not?
Short Story Assignment
Your short story will be in the 800-1,000 word range. In keeping with the season, it should be about autumn, Halloween, or the changing of the season. Some students have chosen to write spooky stories for this assignment, but that is not a requirement.
- The story should encompass appeals to all five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste).
- The story should use at least three different types of figurative language at least once (simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, allusion, etc.)
- Although background information may be important for the reader to understand the story, information should be a part of the action. For example, a purely information sentence like this one, “The old mansion had stood on the hill overlooking the town for nearly a century,” can become an action one like this, “Leslie trudged up the steep stone road toward the old mansion that had overlooked the town for nearly a century.”
- The story should cover the least amount of time possible. Focus on one key, important incident. For a story of this length, the struggle that a character might have opening up a door would be better than telling about the entire exploration of a house. Covering a short period of time makes the writing more intense and descriptive. For this assignment, think about the kind of writing we did when we turned our natural narratives into literary short stories.
- The story must contain at least one, properly punctuated, dialogue exchange.
- At least one of the sentences should be five words or under (and not be a fragment).
- At least one of the sentences should be thirty words or longer (and not be a run on).
- The events of the story should change the character in some way. The character should learn or grow as a result of the story. This change or growth is called an “epiphany,” a sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something. The epiphany could be about the character, like “I’m braver than I thought,” or “I truly do have friends,” or it could be about the nature of the world, like “There are mysteries humanity was not meant to know,” or “We can resist our fates.”
- The story must be classroom safe.
- The final version of the story should be typed or in ink, double spaced and closely proofread.
- Current Mood: chipper
- Current Music:"Summer of 69," Bryan Adams