Snow days and starting to write a story

There is one really good thing about winter storms and snow days–they’re great for hunkering down to write! That’s exactly what happened this past Wednesday, when winds of 90kph or more and 15+ cm of snow kept islanders home. That was also exactly one day after my two short story writing classes and I’m happy to report that most of my students made good use of the weather and wrote!
Even if adult students say they’ve never written a story before, they will all have had been exposed to stories in some form. They would have read stories and told stories, all important experiences when embarking on writing stories. Let me say, though, that while I advocate writing copiously for practice and do recommend journal writing (my graduate thesis from a few decades back was on how to teach creative writing through journal writing, as a classroom tool/technique), I also believe in teaching mastery of technique and skills. The most difficult exercise, thus far, that any of my students encounter is the very first exercise: to write a story in one sentence. Mind you, one well-written sentence averages 25 words, hence, a short story in approximately 25 words. I use this technique because it helps develop mastery and control. With only 25 words, your short story does not have fat; it lacks distractions; best of all, it avoids wordiness. This exercise helps the writer focus on the elements of the story and achieve that all-important quality of UNITY, which is what makes a short story a short story. This kind of controlled writing helps new writers focus their stories on what is important, rather than what they think they want to say. If there are things they want to say to deliver a message and don’t want to write a story, they should write nonfiction instead.

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