Creative Writing

This weekend I delivered a session on flash fiction at the Write Eastern Kentucky Conference on the campus of Morehead State University and decided to share some of my plans here. While the length of most fiction is determined by the guidelines of the journal or magazine to which you plan to submit your work, a generally accepted word count for a traditional short story is 2000-8000 words while a...
The amount of learning that came about through giving the students control completely surprised me. I expected the engagement to be fairly high, but the format of the project truly allowed students at all levels to perform, to develop their voice, and to exceed my expectations. The project was student driven, and many of the techniques we used were uncovered just through collaboration, discussion...
Many of the young writers I work with have trouble crystallizing their character's main desire, secret, fear, or conflict, and how that connects to their play or story at large. This new activity I cooked up uses the structure of memes to help writers begin to hone in on that concept. Early next week I'll be posting Meme-Inspired Writing Activities Part II on my blog, where I'll share the other...
I had been reading one of David Levithan's books, The Realm of Possibility, and it seemed like a pretty neat way to have each student create a story that was connected and yet written in different voices. In the book, there is one school, and twenty voices. Each chapter is in a different voice, and you don't really see all of the connections between the characters till you are a few chapters in....
What does it mean to be connected? An interesting question for educators to think about. Another one might be, "How can we show students the power behind community and connected learning?" One way might be to allow students to create a book together that celebrates the connections between people, one that displays beauty, subtlety, and thematic continuity through these connections. If being...
As with most high school populations, I have students of all spiritual stripes – believers, seekers, dreamers, hopers, doubters.  So, when I stumbled upon a prompt for prayer in Georgia Heard’s wonderful book Writing Toward Home, I paused. All prompts in Heard’s book draw on the past and the introspective, on reminiscences and musings to generate memories for drafting memoirs or vignettes. But...
photo (4).JPG                                  This lesson takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it has three parts: visualizing, listing, and writing.  The objective is to generate memories from a specific place.   In E.B. White’s luminous essay “Once More to the Lake,” White writes about taking his son on a vacation to a lake in Maine that he visited with...
                 This lesson takes about 45-60 minutes to complete, and it has three parts: listening, listing, and writing.  The objective is to generate the first draft of a sharp and vivid vignette.   Writing about parents can be difficult for teenagers.  Students don’t know whether they should mythologize mom and dad with sugary platitudes or murder them in their sleep.  Whether or not a...
  While all writing draws on the imagination and memory of the writer, the personal narrative and memoir are considered by my students to be exclusively “true” stories.  Whatever. I’m from the “all stories are true” camp and try to discourage dogmatic adherence to genre rules. However, from their self-reflections, I discovered that most of my students loath the idea of writing stories, either...
I am not a fan of grades.  “But we are,” my students whine, asking me daily to separate the sheep from the goats on a 100 point scale.  “So are our parents and those colleges out there.” In a world of standardized testing, college admission requirements, and GPA wars, I am stuck with awarding grades. However, a difficult question for most creative writing teachers is: How do I “grade” a...

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