Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 2, Day 1) – The Art of Fiction
Critics, readers, and authors often talk about the craft of a story, but what does that really mean? Today’s class focused on thinking about what drives us to write, what stories we love, and what techniques authors use to create characters (both protagonists and antagonists) with whom we can empathize. We started off class by looking at a true story that felt like fiction—the story of a boy who seemingly floated away in his father’s weather balloon, only to unknowingly reveal his role in an elaborate hoax. We talked about the reasons this story went viral: It was weird, it had high stakes, and it’s plot twists were compelling and not “random.” After reading an essay on the storytelling lessons of the “balloon boy,” we discussed what we could learn from the story and borrow in our fiction.
Next, we looked at lines from famous authors detailing why they write. We talked about which lines we found most compelling and students then began to write their own response to the “why I write” question. Students were open and articulate about their reasons for writing, which included entering into a space where they could most truly be themselves by channeling their characters. After playing around with new beginnings to the fairy tale “Cinderella,” we went outside to discuss sensory details and the power they have on the page. Finally, we read the beginning of a short story by Karen Russell and then continued to develop our free writes and stories from the day.