Wednesday, November 14, 2007


In watching the film, we see Chris pursue his goals and dreams in a lot of unusual ways. No matter what he has to do to get the attention of the people who could help him achieve these things, however, he keeps his mind on the final outcome- being successful in order to provide a better life for his son.

Answer the following questions in three to four sentences each (at least). If you'd like to combine all your answers into one longer blog that is fine too. When you are finished, leave a comment on each of your group member's blogs. Your comment may be something you agree or disagree with, a connection you make to his/her ideas, or a question you have.

1. How would you would define happiness if you were asked to try to explain it to someone who had no idea what the word meant ? (You cannot use the word happy or any form of it in your explanation.)
2. How do you define happiness in your own life specifically? What is your greatest source of happiness? What may be happiness for you may not be happiness for someone else. BE SPECIFIC. Don't just say hanging out with friends. Explain why your friends (or whatever you write about) brings you happiness. Maybe you are happiest when you are out running, playing video games, eating at a certain restaurant, or celebrating a certain holiday.
3.What people in your life have the greatest influence on your happiness? How do they influence your relative happiness?
4. Whose happiness do you impact in your life? Your actions affect a lot more people than just yourself, so to whom in your life, do your actions have the potential to bring great joy or great disappointment?
5. What is your greatest need in life? How is this tied into your happiness?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Assignment 8- Preview to Photostory

You are going to create a story using photographs and images. These may come from your own collection of photos, if you choose to do a personal narrative, or you may get them from one of the sites I give you that provides students with copyright free photos and images. The most difficult decision will be to decide what your Photo Story will be about. It does not necessarily have to tell a story in the traditional form (hook, rising action, falling action, etc.). Photo Story is simply a program on the computer that you can use to express an idea visually. Possible options:
1. Turn your fictional story into a Photo Story.
2. Take one of your poems and select images that fit with it. Include the text of your poem in story.
3. Create a personal narrative in which you use photos (they must be on a CD or jump drive).

YOUR TASK: Brainstorm a list of possible topics. You may want to start something entirely new, or you may want to work with something you have already written. You just need to pick a topic that lends itself to using photographs or images.

Assignment #7

1st Quarter writing reflection

Think about how much you have written this quarter. It's pretty amazing. Your collection includes:

Daily prompts that include personal narratives, fictional passages, lists, etc.


Short stories

Using your notebook as well as your memory, respond to the following questions.

1. What have you enjoyed writing the most in the first quarter? Be general when answering this. Have you enjoyed the poetry? Short stories? Daily prompts? Why do you think you enjoyed this kind of writing?

2. What do you think is your strongest piece of writing? You can be specific here or you can be more general and just say that "poetry" is your strong point. Explain your choice. Why is this your strongest piece or area of writing? Have you written much of it before? Do you feel you have a lot of inspiration in that area?

3. What have you learned about yourself as a writer in the first quarter? Are you incredibly self-driven? Do you need a lot of prodding to get going? Do you find that you need a lot of structure and direction in writing? Or do you not like the structure and direction?

4. What kind of writing do you want to pursue now? Is there a genre you are really interested in exploring? Plays? Screenplays? Non-fiction? (Be specific- what kind of non-fiction? Music reviews? Memoir?)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2nd short story assignment

DO NOT COMPLETE THIS ON THE BLOG! I have put the assignment here so you can access it if you mispalce the actual handout you are given.

Creative Writing Short Story Assignment #2

Due Dates:
Draft (at least 2 solid pages)- Friday, October 26
Final Typed: Monday, October 29

Craft a short story- less than three pages- in which you do at least one of the following:
1. establish a character that undergoes a tremendous change
2. create a piece that evokes fear in your readers (a ghost story).

You may find that you do both in the same assignment.

If you choose to write a “ghost story” it does not have to be about ghosts necessarily. It can be any story that creates fear or has a plot that explores the darker side of human nature.

In writing a scary piece, however, you need to keep it within the realm of good writing, and make sure you have a clear theme. Do not write a story that is overly gory (any violence should have a definitive purpose). Also, there are some topics that in our day and age that should not be the focus of your piece. For example, do not write about shooting up your school. If you have any questions about the appropriateness of your topic, talk to me.

Again, any violence in your story needs to have a clear purpose and should be limited. You are not writing a bloodbath story. Instead you should use plot, setting, characterization, and specific word choices to create a story that is eerie but still has an overall theme that is thoughtful.

In this story you should pay attention to the specific words your chose to create the tone of voice you want to convey (angry, fearful, joyful, etc.). A rubric will be provided before the final paper is due.

Assignment #6: Creating Fear

In "The Black Cat" we read about a man who descends into madness and becomes driven to do things no normal, well-adjusted human being would do. Poe uses unforgettable images to describe the narrator's dead wife who, when discovered by police, is "already greatly decayed and clotted with gore." In fact, Poe was writing about the "dark side" of humanity long before movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street, novels by Stephen King, and haunts such as The Trail of Terror.

People love horror, and they love to be scared. And today your job is to think about what scares you and how fear is created. One of your options will be to write a ghost/scary/horror story, and today you will think about possible ways to do that.

Respond to the following questions completely. Explore your responses thoroughly. When you are finished you need to visit and leave a comment on the sites of your fellow group members' blogs. This weekend (Sunday) I will be checking both responses and COMMENTS!

Fear Questions:
1. Do you like to be scared? Why or why not? In what settings are you okay with being frightened?
2. What scares you? Are there things you fear? Are there things in our world you consider horrific? These do not have to be about ghosts or monsters. (One of Stephen King's bestselling horror novels was about a dog.) Perhaps you are afraid to ski or afraid of snakes. Maybe you hate being alone in your house at night. Maybe you are afraid of big cities. Where do your fears come from? Are you more scared by blood and guts terror or by subtle the possibility of something horrible happening?
3. What, in your opinion, is a good definition for madness? What would a person have to do to be considered "mad" by you?
4. Poe writes about a man driven to madness. What drives people to madness today in your opinion? How does someone go from seemingly normal to insane (at least temporarily)?

When you are finished, remember to visit your group members' blogs and leave a comment that is 3-4 sentences in length. Maybe you agree with them about something. Perhaps you disagree.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Assignment 5

Final First Lines

You are done with your short story, right? Wrong.
You have the greatest hook, right? Maybe....
Today you are going to revisit the very beginning of your short story, which in a lot of ways is the most important part. If you were to submit a short story to a magazine for publishing and your opening lines were vapid, uninteresting, bland, boring, etc. there is a good chance it would not be read beyond those lines.

Your task: PART ONE
Write FIVE new openings for your story. Each opening should be between two-five sentences.

*Somewhere in your list include your ORIGINAL opener- the one you have right now.

If you are stuck for ideas, consider starting with the following:

1. Action. A clear event with lively verbs. You could come up with a couple of different openings using action. Be sure there is a potential conflict introduced.
Example: "There was no music. Most of the hamlet had burned down, including her house, which was now smoke, and the girl danced with her eyes half closed, her feet were bare." ("Style" By Tim O'Brien)
2. Dialogue. Start with a conversation between two characters or statement made by one character. This should follow the dialogue guidelines we talked about, and it should be revealing of a potential conflict in the piece.
3. Character description. This could be physical or personality. Be sure to reveal something about a potential conflict.
Example: "His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut...." ("The Man I Killed" by Tim O'Brien)
4. Setting description. If you start with setting, it should be important to the plot or overall theme. Again, it should reveal conflict.


Visit the blogs of SIX other classmates. You can start with your group members' blogs, but also visit one or two blogs that belong to people you don't necessarily interact with often.

Read through their openings and leave a comment in which you state what opener you think is best. Explain your preference.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Assignment #4

Today you are going to do three things:
- Write about your response to the story "Where are you going? Where have you been?"
- Get down your opinions about what makes a short story great
- Respond to your group members' answers to the above tasks

Task One: Your response to last night's story.

Write a personal reaction to the piece in which you describe your feelings about the plot, setting and characters. Questions to consider (you need not answer all of these):
a. Why is the setting in the second half of the story so important (when Connie is home alone)?
b. How does Connie's character draw the reader in? What does she do that drives you crazy or makes you like her? Is she asking for trouble? Does she represent something in our own society?
c. What larger topics is Joyce Carol Oates addressing in the story? Think about the conflicts.
d. Why does this story appeal to so many people?
e. What actually happens at the end in your opinion?
f. How do you explain the actions of the male antagonist? How do you think he got to be such a disgusting human being? What could he represent in our own society? Why is he so important to the story?

Task Two: Elements of a great short story

Make a list of ten things you think makes a short story great. Consider plot, setting, characters, genre, length, point of view, and conflict. Be specific. Don't just say " a good plot". What makes a plot good? What makes a character great and fun to read about? What do you like to read about? If you like mysteries, put that on your list. If you like characters who are in their teens, get that down. If you prefer stories that are written in the first person voice, include that. Do you like settings that are in the natural environment, where humans are faced with life threatening elements? Be specific in your preferences BUT be sure to include things that ALL short stories need in order to be good.

Task Three:

Visit you fellow group members' blogs and respond to either their lists or their reactions to the story. Do you agree with what they say? Disagree? Explain. Do they make points that you missed?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Reflections on Assignment #2

3rd Hour

GREAT job! Some of the prompts you came up with I plan to use:
What drives your life? (Bethany)
What problems in your life do you blame other people for? (Michelle)
Do you need to understand a song to enjoy it? (Jakub)
Can you really do anything if you put your mind to it? (Tyler from Canada)
When has someone else made an impact in your life? (Natalie P.)

Most of you wrote about lyrics from songs that really have struck you: Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (Tyler K), Almost Lover (Kathryn), and Bubbly (Mackenzie). Some mentioned books, plays and poems: Animal Crackers (A poem from Natalie I.), Power of One (Tyler), and Much Ado About Nothing (Pat). Jamie wrote about a poem her mom had written when she was in high school!

5th Hour

You had great pieces of writing. Many of you mentioned books: The Hardy Boys (from David's childhood), To Kill a Mockingbird (Tyler), and Lois Lowry books (Katie). Poetry and songs were also mentioned by many: Bob Dylan (Zoe), Dave Matthews (David), R Kelly (Rimma), Bright Eyes (Steff). Yujie wrote about Jabberwocky.

Also, some of your prompts were wonderful:

What is a good deed you have done for someone? (Bri- relating it to The Giving Tree)
Is there a line when literature becomes vulgar? What is that line? (Claire, relating it to The Gas We pass- a book from her childhood)
When have you changed yourself for someone else? (Steff)

Assignment #3

1. Pick two of your strongest poems. These should be poems that you would consider contributing to the exchange with the art students.
2. Put each one on your blog.
3. Visit the blogs of the people in your group.
4. Read their poems.

FOR EACH POEM leave comments that address the following:
1. Write out your initial impression of the piece. What is the poem about in your opinion?
2. Write out what you think to be the strongest, most vivid line in the poem.
3. Write out one line or selection from the piece that could use a little help. Be GENTLE but HONEST in your critique. Maybe they have too many words (words like really, very, totally are not good things!). Maybe they have a cliche ("hungry like a wolf") that is just too overused.
4. State which poem appeals to you the most of the two and explain why. Do you connect to it personally? Do you just like the choice of words and images?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Things Remembered + Assignment #2

I think that is the name of a store in Southdale, too, but in this case, you were asked to find a piece of writing that has had some kind of impact on your life. It should be a piece of writing that you have remembered or will remember as being important to you.

Almost eight years ago, after my first year of teaching, I participated in a summer workshop in Massachusetts with about 20 other teachers from around the nation. We all came together to study Herman Melville, who is best know for his novel Moby Dick which is about a somewhat crazy ship captain who is in pursuit of one single white whale who bit his leg off. I really had no love of Melville at the time, I just applied to go because it was a free trip to New England, and it sounded fun. We toured New England, slept on a whale ship, and ate lobster. I figured I could get though the book in order to do all this.

When I started to read the gigantic novel (550 pages in my edition), however, I fell in love with the first page. In the chapter called Loomings, the narrator states:

"....Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can" (Melville 1).

Who hasn't felt this way at some time? I think the image of the "dark, drizzly November in my soul" is perfect in describing what it feels like to be alone or confused or just sad. The book was written 150 years ago but speaks to a human condition that is very present today.

Your Prompt: Select ONE of the following and respond briefly (leave a post):
1. Briefly (four-five sentences) describe a time when you have been surprised that you have liked a book or specific piece of writing (or type of music). Describe why it was surprising.
2. When it is a "dark, drizzly November" in your soul, what do you do to get out of that state? Do you even try to make yourself feel better or do you prefer to let your feelings come and go without putting forth effort to change them (four-five sentences)?

After you have left a post.....

Using my entry about Moby Dick as a model, write a brief description of the piece of writing you brought into class today:
1. Tell the story of the writing (When did you first read it? Were you a little kid? Was it just recently? Who introduced you to it?).
2. Then, explain why it "hits" you the way it does.
3. Include a brief passage from the piece and explain its significance.
4. Come up with a one or two writing prompts about the passage. This could be tough, so look back at the ones I provided about Moby Dick.
5. Visit the blogs of the three-four other people who you been grouped with. Read ALL of the entries.
6. Read their entries specifically from today and respond to their prompts. Post a comment on each of their sites. Comments should be four-five sentences each.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Assignment

Once you have successfully set up your blog and decided what templates you will have on your page, complete the following:
1. Write out your username, password, and url. I suggest that you keep this on a word document and save it on your file folder rather than on a loose sheet of paper.
2. in your first post, write a brief autobiography of yourself that includes the following:
a. Your personal writing interests. What kinds of writing do you like to do? What do you want to spend time on over the next four months?
b. A brief description of a writer (or a few writers) whose work you appreciate or find interesting to read. Explain why you enjoy his/her writing style.
c. A sample of your own writing. This may be the metaphor poem you have written, another poem, a prompt you wrote in class, or another creative piece.
3. Visit and leave a comment on at least two other people's blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Welcome to Creative Writing

Welcome to Edina High School's Creative Writing blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide Edina High School students interested in improving their writing with a forum to share their work publicly and to discuss and comment on issues and topics that interest them concerning the craft. Students will post their own pieces, comment on the work of their peers, and discuss topics of writing.