Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Enter Writing Contests, Too!

Writer’s Digest contest directions:
Your Story #26--Bloody Knife in Your Hand
You wake up to find a dead body on the floor—and a bloody knife in your hands.
You can't remember exactly what happened, so you piece together the clues.


"Wait, what?" I mumbled, struggling to sit up and open my eyes. Through the strobe-light created by my flickering eyelids and a hot, bright light, I thought I saw a bloody body. Yes, a body. A man. Slashed by... "Oh my God!" I unclenched my hand and a blood-smeared knife clattered against the floor. The back of my head throbbed, and I couldn't figure out how I'd fallen or why I'd been fighting with a knife or who the dead guy was or WHAT THE #@%% I WAS GOING TO DO NOW.

I scrambled to my feet, suddenly drenched in sweat, and gasped as I heard a voice snap at me.

"What are you doing?!"

I squeezed my eyes shut, preparing to be killed by the angry man. "Please don't--"

"CUT! That's not in the script! Geez, did you actually knock yourself out when you did that fall?"

I opened my eyes, suddenly remembering that voice. The voice that had asked me just moments ago--at least it seemed like moments--whether I wanted to do my own stunt or let a stunt man fall for me.

I rubbed my aching head, forgetting about the sticky, fake blood, and then grimacing as I felt the goo in my hair. The dead guy sat up and sighed. The director groaned. And I asked timidly, "Take two?"

Then everyone on the set burst out laughing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The 5 R's of Workshop Writing

An effective writing workshop, I have found, must stress what I call the "5 R's":

1) Record (thoughts and ideas)
2) Read rough drafts (aloud, for feedback)
3) Respond (to feedback, and to works read by other writers)
4) Revise (based on feedback)
5) Reflect (upon your progress, in writing, from rough to final draft)

All 5 steps are essential to progress and to giving meaning to the writing process. And the beauty of #5, Reflect, is that students practice the Response-to-Literature essay style on their own work, analyzing their word choices from first to final draft, and drawing conclusions about their stylistic improvement; plus, students create their own progress records via their reflective paragraphs--progress based on qualitative standards they set for themselves.