Use each of the following sentences as the first sentence of a short, character-driven, story.
- Bart hated shadows.
- I thought that Buddy and I would be friends forever.
- Madge always stayed too long.
- Was it worth it? I'll let you decide.
- Fourteen days traveling with Wilma was thirteen days too many.
- It's not always easy being so popular.
- Felix taught me to play chess and that was it.
- I'd love to have that day back.
- In the land of Frook, selfishness was rewarded.
- His joke wasn't the least bit funny, but I laughed anyway.
II. Characters in action:
How would a:
- chronic worrier mow the lawn?
- an egomaniac play golf?
- an uncomfortable extravert drink soup?
- a pessimist react to winning the Lottery?
III. Write a short profile of an adult you know well, perhaps someone you understand better than most people do. Before you start writing, answer these questions, make a list of the character traits you plan to emphasize. For each come up with a short response.
- How do you happen to know this person so well?
- What is the first impression this person makes?
- What makes this person proud?
- What disappoints this person?
- What are this person's hobbies?
- Who might not like this person?
- What's a good day for this person?
- Why or why not would this person be a good spy?
- How and how much has this person influenced you?
- What should be written on his or her gravestone.
You might want to start this with a short anecdote of this person in action.
IV. Write mini stories explaining how each of these people became:
- a doubting egoist
- a skeptic
- a religious fanatic
- a secret admirer of Elvis
- an optimistic pessimist
- a not-so-happy nerd
- an escape artist
- hero of his/her country
- pessimistic optimist
- a famous inventor
IV. Describe these places:
- archaic attic
- bland bedroom
- corny cab
- depressing depot
- edgy entertainer
Red Sky at Morning: An Overlooked Gem
Over the years, I've used a number of prompts from Moe's Café: 48 Decidedly Different Creative Writing Prompts to spice up my literature units. Since my high school does not offer a creative writing class per se, most of my creative writing activities are designed in conjunction with some piece of literature I'm teaching at the time. Although Moe's Café was not written to be used with any particular book, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could match up all of the chapters of a novel that I was teaching with pre-reading/writing prompts from Moe's Café. I chose Red Sky at Morning, the opening work for my English 1 class.
Richard Bradford's Red Sky at Morning tells the story of Josh Arnold, a wise-cracking yet engaging teenager forced to grow up quickly in the waning days of World War II. First in Mobile, Alabama and then later in the mountains of New Mexico, Josh must come to terms with the universal problems of growing up. Along the way, he encounters a number of colorful characters who both help and hinder the process. Josh's wry interaction with these people makes for compelling reading. The novel also offers enough insight into the power of nature and the foibles and strengths of human beings to be worth teaching to the freshmen in my English 1 course.
Although it's unlikely that any teacher would have the time to assign all twenty-one of these prompts in the course of teaching the novel, each chapter having its corresponding prompt affords a teacher a number of alternatives. The prompts can be used as pre-reading activities, discussion starters, extra credit opportunities, narrative assignments, portfolio entries, substitute teacher lesson plans, etc.
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