Monday, July 1, 2019

Young writers with big twists

During the summer, I teach a creative writing camp. During the camp, I introduce kids to a book from early in my authorial career, 5-Minute Daily Practice: Writing. It consists of story prompts for teachers to use with their students, and unlike other writing prompts books I’ve seen, it includes not only story beginnings but also story endings


Last year, one of my camper-writers did something very clever.

I showed the kids two of the story endings:

This proves that ordering a pizza is not always as easy as it’s supposed to be.

Only two of us had gone in, but three of us came out.

I asked them to pick one and write a story that could lead up to it. The camp routine: everyone reads aloud everything they write. 

One of the girls (about age 11) began to share her story with the group. It took place in a pizzeria (as did the stories of several others), so it was obvious which of the two endings she’d chosen…

…or so we thought. At the last minute, she hurled a curveball (or tossed a pizza in the air)—she seamlessly ended with the other line. It was a brilliant bait and switch.

This year, another student (age 12) also surprised me and the other campers—perhaps even topping what I heard last year. His story was about a pregnant woman who was ordering a pizza when she went into labor, which, of course, made completing the ordinarily simple task considerably more challenging—hence leading to the ending line about pizza. 

But it also cheekily and naturally led to the other ending line…and this camper indeed used both.

Bravo, young writers!

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