New! Short Story Writing (Grades 6-8)
Lead a class discussion on plot elements, brainstorming, and short story writing.
Students will think about literary devices and elements in preparation for a short story writing assignment.
When Characters Meet worksheet (PDF), pen
1. Begin by asking students to think of two characters from books they’ve recently read.
2. Once they have identified two characters, explain that their task is to write a story in which these two characters from different worlds meet. Explain to students that they are going to write their own creative short stories, using descriptive language and literary devices to control characters’ actions and events while entertaining readers.
3. Engage students in a brainstorming session to recall their prior knowledge about literary elements and devices found in short stories. Some guided questions to write on the board are:
- How does a writer set the scene, or open the story?
- How can a writer show readers the rising action and the high point, or climax, of the story?
- What is the literary term for the events of a story? (plot).
- What are some ways to create a successful ending to a story so readers know that it is over?
4. As students discuss each of these questions, you can guide them towards the ideas that certain literary elements are vital to successful short story writing. The writer is responsible for using strong sensory images (word pictures), defining a clear plot (set of actions and events that show changes in a character’s life), and bringing the plot to a clear resolution (ending).
5. Specifically, there are plot elements that every successful story contains. Write the following definitions on the board with the header “Elements of Plot”, and use examples from a recently-studied fictional story to illustrate each.
Exposition (A strong introduction which gives the setting, and creates the tone of the story while presenting characters), Foreshadowing (Hints or clues which suggest to the reader what will happen later in the story), Inciting Force (The event or character that begins the conflict), Conflict (Human versus... human, Nature, Self, Society), Rising Action (The series of important events that build from the conflict; it begins with the inciting force, and ends with the climax), Crisis (The turning point of the story; when the opposing forces meet), Climax (The result of the crisis; the point of highest emotion or drama, when the reader can predict the outcome of the story), Falling Action (The events after the climax; they close the story), Resolution (The last actions that take place in the story).
6. Explain to students they’ll now apply their knowledge of plot to writing their short stories.
7. Distribute "When Characters Meet" worksheet and have students read the questions.
8. Once they’ve completed Part I, have students complete Part II of the worksheet either during a second class period or for homework.
9. During the second class period, have students volunteer to read their stories aloud in front of the class, and to type them for printing and display in a public space in the classroom or school.