Fiction Exercise: Part 3

The fiction-writing exercise described in the posts of February 2 and 7 was the first assignment of a class in which the students would later write essays on assigned subjects, using works of fiction and poetry as sources.  The goal was to provide the students with some insight into what it takes to write fiction. (Poetry writing was addressed in another exercise). The greater goal was to engender a keener appreciation of fiction.

After creating the first draft of the essay, it was time to introduce some fiction techniques.

Exercise:  The groups gathered to storyboard their work.  The storyboard we used is a blank page divided into squares.  The students were asked to represent graphically the high points of their story — the actions which move it along.  Only a few students have the artistic training to do complex drawings, but they can use stick figures and simple designs.  This exercise gives them a clear idea of how the story moves from point to point, and of where the tension is.

Exercise:  The second exercise for the groups was to create a backstory for their two main characters.  To do this, they created a history for each one.  This exercise can give depth to the characters, and helps them create a story that is more organic and natural. I noted that storyboards are a conventional way of writers to present, say, a new television series to the producers, and asked them to treat the exercise as a such a presentation.

Both of these exercises have the benefit of bonding the class, and they are unfailingly fun for the students. While not strictly a Linguistics exercise, it shows the way a community mind works in creating language, and that aspect of the work can be pointed out after it is over.

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