Monday, February 24, 2014

Using fiction writing as a springboard into analysis -


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My characterization master unit will be launched in several days. So it a perfect day to broach a heavy subject. Is creative writing, writing prompts, all of these fiction writing classes or courses just a bunch of useless fun, or do they serve a purpose? I avow that fiction writing in many aspects MORE difficult than most of the essays set in our school systems, for one simple reason: a scene or story is often an unchartered territory with guideposts but no formula or template. Write in and remind me who said this, or something like this:  "the question is never 'how do I write a story?' but, 'how do write this story?'"

Championing Fiction Writing in Order to Underscore its Relevance in the Classroom
Every time a person approaches fiction, the degree of critical and analytical thinking necessary to "successfully complete" is staggering. In fact, many people do NOT "successfully complete." The writings are attempts. They are worked on, occasionally at length, and eventually abandoned. I have had the honor of studying under a Pulitzer-prize winner author who regaled us with a story of his many failed short stories, and even novels. Please believe me, the difficulty level, and therefore the degree to which writing "story" challenges a writer, is beyond that of a typical compare contrast. IF THIS IS THE CASE, what skills are they learning in fiction writing and how can students use these skills when going back to the essay form.

1. Elements a writer must contend with - (setting mood, character, plot, point of view, where to begin and end, diction, plus order, grammar, mechanics, style, support of ideas); Some are the same. During this time, students are mastering the same key skills they need to master in traditional essay writing. Even supporting ideas; while nonfiction writing may need the use of quotes, both fiction and nonfiction will need details in order make the reader believe what the writer, or in the case of fiction writing, narrator, is saying.

2. Critical Thinking - Often times, students of fiction need to think ahead in time to figure out a viable path for an interaction between two characters. Writers need to use logic either to explain how a scenario unfolded or to arrange scenes, demonstrate causality through their writing, develop arguments as seen in dialogue between characters, supply pertinent details in order to portray characters believably.

3. When Paired with the Appropriate Nonfiction Essay. . . MAGIC HAPPENS. I am not quite finished with my Master Characterization Unit. However, I think what is very important, whether people buy it, or whether folks just take away the IDEA of it, is that teaching the exhaustive ins and outs of characterization makes it INFINITELY easier for students to then write an analytical essay about the characterization in a fiction story. It is rather simple to choose three to five examples, allocate one paragraph to each example, stating whether each example is direct or indirect, and then analyzing whether the example was successful and why. Students by now are very familiar with making paragraphs. They usually struggle, even in high school and in grade 13 (yes, that's college) with analysis and making sound arguments. If you have spent good time writing and studying characterization, writing a nonfiction essay on a public domain short story and analyzing the effectiveness of its characterization is a fantastic culmination.

4. To close Point #3 after writing your own scene and studying characterization, a student is uniquely suited to then writing an essay about the topic. In short, fiction and nonfiction are two peas in a pod, sorry for the cliché.
Please know that I will be done soon. But feel free to stop by my store anytime. I have freebies and reasonably priced goods. All you have to do is write, or teach! and in a few days we are having a sale!!

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