Write better stories and essays

This is not, by the way, a new phenomenon. And who can blame them? Some really do want to write a novel, and some write great ones. But WHY is this the case? Short stories have been around forever, of course, and many of our modern tales have their roots in the fairy tales and folktales told hundreds of years ago and collected by the Grimm brothers and Charles Perrault, among others. Is the short story seen as a womanly art form, tamed and domestic, slight compared to the doorstop novels of the most well-known male novelists?


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The search is always on, the articles are always being cranked out about the next great American novelist. But what about the next American short story writer? Nabokov knew it. Examples are the stained-glass windows of knowledge. Since then, the proliferation of MFA programs, the internet, the flourishing of new presses, and a thousand other factors have produced more excellent American short story writers than ever before.

Why do we then ask that these writers become novelists? Readers cite the lack of time or interest in constantly immersing themselves in new situations, new scenarios, new characters.

Help a Child Write a Story

They cite plot over character, which will always favor the novel. And of course, mainstream magazines continue to die out and lose readership, and fewer and fewer feature fiction in their pages. And maybe poetry, or even visual art, is where we should look when considering short story writers. For example, you might ask the child what will happen at the beginning, middle, and end of his or her story or where the story will take place.

Dan Harmon Story Circle: 8 Proven Steps to Better Stories

The website Making Books With Children also has some suggestions for story topics. Once the child has chosen a topic, help him or her create a storyboard.

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These help writers put the events of a story in order using pictures. They work kind of like a comic strip. You can make a storyboard by having a child draw a series of pictures of the main events in the story on sticky notes and then asking him or her to arrange the pictures in order.

A photo story is another way of using pictures to organize or create a story. Have a child cut pictures out of magazines or take photos with a digital camera. He or she can then arrange the picture in order and write captions, much the same as with a storyboard. Once the child has picked a final order for the story ask him or her to write several sentences or even a paragraph for each picture that tells that part of the story.

Ask him or her to read you the story. Encourage the child to fill in any missing information or detail that might make the story funnier or more interesting. Keep this book on the shelf with other stories and encourage the child to read it to you.

Short Story Ideas

Tips for Teaching Writing See all tips in this series. Your goal is merely to consider each of these aspects of fiction and include only those that are most relevant to your topic and most interesting to your reader.


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A good interpretive paper does not need to cover all elements of the story—plot, genre, narrative form, character, and setting. In fact, a paper that did try to say something about all of these elements would be unfocused. You might find that most of your topic could be supported by a consideration of character alone. First, select the facts which bear the closest relation to your thesis statement. Readers tend to be more dazzled with your interpretations of evidence than with a lot of quotes from the book.

Select the details that will allow you to show off your own reasoning skills and allow you to help the reader see the story in a way he or she may not have seen it before. This step and the previous step selecting evidence are actually best done at the same time, since selecting your evidence and defining the focus of your paper depend upon each other.

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Once you have a clear thesis you can go back to your list of selected evidence and group all the similar details together. As you begin thinking about what claims you can make i.

tirshilomiwil.tk This arrangement will let me show that Victor was always prone to isolation in his education and that this tendency gets stronger as he becomes more ambitious. There are certainly other organizational options that might work better depending on the type of points I want to stress. Avoid the temptation to load your paper with evidence from your story. Each time you use a specific reference to your story, be sure to explain the significance of that evidence in your own words. In most cases, interpreting your evidence merely involves putting into your paper what is already in your head.

Remember that we, as readers, are lazy—all of us. The previous nine steps are intended to give you a sense of the tasks usually involved in writing a good interpretive paper. What follows are just some additional hints that might help you find an interesting topic and maybe even make the process a little more enjoyable. Identifying the biblical references in Frankenstein might provide a good start to a paper—Mary Shelley does use a lot of biblical allusions—but a good paper must also tell the reader why those references are meaningful.

So what makes an interesting paper topic? Simply put, it has to address issues that we can use in our own lives. Some categories, like race, gender, and social class, are dependable sources of interest. This is not to say that all good papers necessarily deal with one of these issues. My thesis on education in Frankenstein does not. But a lot of readers would probably be less interested in reading a paper that traces the instances of water imagery than in reading a paper that compares male or female stereotypes used in a story or that takes a close look at relationships between characters of different races.

As mentioned in step 2, you need to address these big topics in a complex way.

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Be prepared to challenge your own ideas about what gender, race, or class mean in a particular text. Pick a topic that might allow you to learn about yourself and what you find important. My readers may have already thought to some extent about ideas of education in the novel, if they have read it, but the chance that they have thought through something more specific like the educational environment is slimmer. We consulted these works while writing this handout. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using.

For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback. Barnet, Sylvan, and William E.