Steps for Writing a Short Story. Idea Generation Mini-Stories/Working with Structure Character Development Moment of Change – Why We Start Here Plot Diagram/Story Mountain/Hero’s Journey Character Development S.A.I.D.D. S etting A ction I nternal Story D escription D ialogue
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Steps for Writing a Short Story • Idea Generation • Mini-Stories/Working with Structure • Character Development • Moment of Change – Why We Start Here • Plot Diagram/Story Mountain/Hero’s Journey • Character Development • S.A.I.D.D. • Setting • Action • Internal Story • Description • Dialogue • Literary Devices • Editing • Publishing
Mini-Stories A mini-story is when you write a short little story, just to “try it on” and see if it’s something you feel you can develop later. Mini-stories should be about one to two pages long in your journal. These mini-stories allow you to work with structure and get the foundation solid before you expand. • Start with a character and his/her moment of change – This will happen in his/her Innermost Cave. • Work backwards to think about what the character is like BEFORE the change – That is your exposition. • Decide on a problem, which in solving it will cause the character to change – That is your rising action. • Figure out how the character will be different AFTER the change – That is your falling action and resolution. • Write out your mini-story in your journal – One page. • In your writing journal – a 1-page mini-story. You may write several mini stories during the pre-writing period. Don’t worry a lot about details and dialogue now. Just be sure you’ve got the structure in place.
Moment of Change You have already been thinking about different moments of change and how they might work in a story. The important thing to know about moments of change is that you need to SHOW them rather than tell them. You can do this through the characters actions, internal thoughts, and through the dialogue. In your writing journal: Draw a chart like the one below and fill it in for the main character you are most considering for your developed story. Be sure to include actions thoughts and dialogue frombefore the character’s change, during the change and after the change. Example: Character - Evan Change - Learns that taking responsibility is part of growing up. Learns to compromise. Actions Thoughts Dialogue He sees the dog holding her leash, walks past her, out of the house and to the park to practice his pitching. Thinks about how irritated he gets when his dog tilts her head and looks at him like she wants something. “Can’t someone else feed her? I’m busy. Why do I always have to do it?” Before He takes the leash and goes out looking for Daisy. Thinks about giving up his baseball game to go and look for Daisy. Wonders if it’s his fault. “This is all my fault. I should have been paying more attention.” During Thinks about how much he loves the way his dog tilts her head when he’s talking to her. “C’mon girl! Let’s go to the park. You can help me practice my pitching.” He goes to feed his dog without being asked. After
Story Mountain/Hero’s Journey • Exposition – Introduce character (s) setting, situation • Rising Action – Tension mounts, problem gets worse • Climax – Towards the end, tension breaks • Falling Action – Problem is resolved • Resolution – We see the character’s new situation • Departure – Hero is called to action – often reluctant • Initiation – Hero enters a new world or situation • Road of Trials – Hero faces obstacles and learns from • Innermost cave – Hero’s darkest moment. Hero must face his/her greatest weakness, or make a really difficult choice • Return and Reintegration – We see how the character has changed In your writing journal: List both for your story. Maximum of 2 events for the Rising Action/Road of Trials
Character Development To develop ideas for a character, use the following strategies: • Think of the character in his/her BEFORE state. What is his/her life like? What is he/she good at? Special gifts? What are his/her weaknesses – or areas in which a problem is most likely to trip them up? • Think of the problem you are creating for the character. How will the character struggle with it? How will it be difficult for him/her? How will he/she handle the frustration? • Think of the character in his/her AFTER state. What has he/she learned? How will you show that to the reader? • Consider the parts of a character study – Thoughts, emotions, positive actions, negative actions, fears and secrets, what is supporting the character, what is blocking the character. Try piecing together a character from all those “parts”. • In your writing journal – 1 page description of what your main character is like.
Developing a Story with S.A.I.D.D. The elements of S.A.I.D.D. Help to insure that a story is completely developed. • Setting • Actions • Internal Story • Description • Dialogue
Setting • When you think about writing a setting for your story, consider the following: • Indoors vs. Outdoors • Time of Day • Time of Year • Weather • Background Noises • Background Activities • Atmosphere/Mood Verbs In your journal - 1 page description of your main setting.
Internal Story • It’s important to get to know your character on the inside – One of the first things to determine is what kind of secret(s) the character might have. • What is the character’s secret or fear? • Who else knows (including the reader?) • If it is a secret, why is it a secret? • Embarrassment • Safety • Unwillingness to Share • How will the secret be revealed or the fear overcome? • In your writing journal: Answer the following questions to help you get a better idea of who the character is as a person. • What does this character do when he/she gets angry? • What are the special gifts of this character? • What are the character’s best and worst memories from their very young childhood? • How does this character express caring? Does he/she have difficulty communicating or is it easy? • What interesting habits have you given this character?
Description • There are several different ways that you can be descriptive: • Imagery • Actions • Sensory descriptions • Mood words • Metaphor • Describe the qualities of the object • Push your thinking! • How is the object like…? • Make comparisons based on the quality of the object • Example: He turned a beaming smile on her with all the intensity of a compassionate fire hose. • Personification • Use action verbs to describe objects • Find ways to use objects to communicate emotions • Example: Josh watched as two puffy clouds chased each other over the tops of the trees. • Hyperbole • Use exaggeration to emphasize ideas • Example: When Claire saw how happy the little boy was with the gift she had made for him, she felt like she was 10 feet tall.
Imagery • It’s important to keep a list of great words you can use for description: • Action • Descriptive verbs • Use metaphor and simile to emphasize • Sensory • Sight • Colors • Sizes • Shapes • Smell • Feel – both touch and sensation. (ie, you can feel the softness of the blanket, but you can also feel how warm the room is.) • Sound • Taste – Use only in certain situations • Mood Words – Set a mood for the scene using descriptive adjectives.
What to Remember About Using Dialogue There are several important things to remember about using dialogue in your story. • Intersperse your dialogue with the other elements of S.A.I.D.D.. • Don’t extend the dialogue for too long. • Be sure to indicate who is speaking – Jim said, asked Sally, Sharon wondered, etc. • Use proper formatting and style. • No spaces between quotation marks and first word of the sentence or between the quotation marks and last punctuation of the sentence • Use a comma instead of a period if you are going to indicate who is speaking. • New speaker = new paragraph (hit ‘Enter’ and indent) – If the same speaker continues, stay in the paragraph. Before: “Where are you going?” asked Susan. “I’m going for a walk. I need to think.” Sally replied. After: Sally put on her coat and gloves before reaching for the doorknob. “Where are you going?” asked Susan. Sally flipped her coat up. “I’m going for a walk,” she replied, knitting her brows together in a scowl. “I need to think.”
Balancing Dialogue Before: “Hey Amy, how are you doing?” Connor asked. “I’m fine,” replied Amy. After: The hallway was louder than an orchestra warming up as noisy groups of students pushed and shoved against each other trying to get to class before the bell. Reaching her locker at last, Amy leaned her head against it for a moment and took a deep breath before swiftly running through her combination and opening the locker door. One more class, she told herself. Everything inside the locker was so pristinely tidy it practically sparkled. Amy put her math books away and was reaching for her English binder when she heard someone clearing their throat close behind her. She turned and saw Connor. He was standing with his hands shoved deep in his pockets and smiling at her in a lopsided way that looked very charming, if slightly goofy. “Hey Amy, how are you doing?” He asked. His cheeks and neck were slightly pink, easy to see on his fair complexion. He was shifting from one foot to the other and not quite meeting her eyes. Amy felt the heat rising on her own cheeks. She consciously willed herself to keep her hands at her sides and not to reach for the ponytail and start twirling it. She could feel the panic rising and concentrated on breathing slowly and deeply before speaking. “I’m fine,” she replied as evenly as she could. She smiled at him. Does he know? She wondered.
S.A.I.D.D. Color Coding The hallway was louder than an orchestra warming upas noisy groups of students pushed and shoved against each other trying to get to class before the bell. Reaching her locker at last, Amy leaned her head against it for a moment and took a deep breath before swiftly running through her combination and opening the locker door. One more class, she told herself. Everything inside the locker was so pristinely tidy it practically sparkled. Amy put her math books away and was reaching for her English binder when she heard someone clearing their throat close behind her. She turned and saw Connor. He was standing with his hands shoved deep in his pockets and smiling at her in a lopsided way that looked very charming, if slightly goofy. “Hey Amy, how are you doing?” He asked. His cheeks and neck were slightly pink, easy to see on his fair complexion. He was shifting from one foot to the other and not quite meeting her eyes. Amy felt the heat rising on her own cheeks. She consciously willed herself to keep her hands at her sides and not to reach for the ponytail and start twirling it. She could feel the panic rising and concentrated on breathing slowly and deeply before speaking. “I’m fine,” she replied as calmly as she could. Shesmiled at him. Does he know? She wondered.
Action: Using Body Language to Show not Tell Describing a character’s body language is a great way to SHOW a reader something about that character’s internal story. You can describe: • Hands/Fingers - waving, clasped, wringing, clenched, fluttering, fists, palms up, on hips, to face • Arms – open, folded, raised, hanging • Legs/Feet – shifting, running, stamping, trudging, jumping, fidgeting, tapping • Shoulders – hunched, straight, strong, shrugging, • Head - Tilted, hung, Straight, drooping, • Facial Features – Show Expression • Face – open, closed, mean, grizzled, wrinkled, smooth, generous, stone, granite, flawless, mysterious • Eyebrows – Raised, furrowed, arched, knitted together • Mouth – opened (surprise, anger), clamped shut (stubborness, anger), pouting, smiling, grinning, smirking, • Eyes – staring, peeking, gazing, blinking, batting lashes, lids lowered, eyes wide (surprise, shock), tears gushing, tears held back, tears brimming
Fine-Tuning Sentences for Better Flow • Sentence structure affects the way the language of your piece flows. • Read through the piece ALOUD to yourself • Read it through ALOUD to someone else • Have someone else read it ALOUD to you • Listen for: • Short, choppy sentences • Repetitious words or ideas • Combine short sentences • Delete or reword repetitious ideas or words Examples: Not So Good: Emma made Amy do her work for her each day. She made Amy do her work for her because she knew how much Amy wanted friends and she knew Amy would never have the guts to say no. Better: Emma knew how much Amy wanted friends, so she made Amy do her work for her each day. She was certain that Amy would never have the guts to say no. Not So Good: Mark shifted in his seat. He turned to Bobby. Bobby was behind him. He wanted to know if Bobby was the one who had told everybody. Better: Mark shifted in his seat and turned to Bobby, who was behind him. He wanted to know if Bobby was the one who had told everybody.
Action Using Powerful Verbs, Adjectives, and the Occasional Adverb Not So Good: The strange woman was in the corner of the room looking at Mandy. Mandy put her hand over her mouth, trying not to scream. Better: The strange woman stood still in the corner of the room staringat Mandy. Mandy raisedher hand to her mouth to stiflea scream. Even Better: The woman stood motionless in the corner of the room fixing a burning gaze on Mandy. Mandy raised her trembling hand over her mouth, and bit down hard on her lip to stifle the scream that was trying to burst forth.
Editing Basics Verbs: Agreement – Subjects and verbs. Tense – Check each verb – are they all in the same tense? Variety – Are you using the same verbs over and over again? Person – Does it switch anywhere from you to I, from I to they, from you to they or he/she? Have you taken “I” out of it, as in “I think”… Word Variety – Are you using the same word over and over again? Sentence Structure – Are your sentences varied and not all the same? Spelling – Check for words the spell checker won’t pick up and incorrect duplicates ie. Aloud/Allowed Capitalization – Beginning of sentences, and proper nouns Sentences – Check for run-ons and fragments. • Strategy: • Read your piece backwards. This will help you find spelling and technical errors. • Read it aloud to a partner – have the partner read it aloud to you.