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Spring SAVY 2015, Week 5 – Fiction in a Flash (5th/6th Grade)

Posted by on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 in SAVY blog.

Our SAVY writers had a busy day this Saturday, as they finished up writing and revising their stories in the computer lab.  Because flash fiction packs so much great story into such a short space, most flash fiction writers want to revise their stories at least twice: once for “big” story ideas (character development, story arc, pacing, setting, depth and consistency of detail) and once for language (making sure each word earns its place on the page).  After students revised their stories, they had a partner from the class read through the story and offer more suggestions.  Then, some students revised their stories a third or fourth time.

Due to all this ice and snow, I know that some students had more time to work on their stories than others.  For this reason, students can continue to write and revise their stories up until 8:00 pm Wednesday night.  Parents, watch for an email with instructions about logging in to our Fiction in a Flash Dropbox account and saving student work.  (Note: students are not required to continue work on their stories during the week: this is simply an option for students who would like more time before next week’s workshop).

After we wrapped up writing time, students headed back to the classroom to talk about the workshop process.  The workshop model is used by writers all over the world, across all levels.  In this model, each member of the workshop group reads and makes written comments on each others’ stories.  Then, the group discusses each story, following this process:

  • Summary: one member of the group (not the author) gives a brief summary of the story.
  • Favorite Lines: each member of the group reads their favorite line from the story, and explains why that line is their favorite.
  • What’s Working: the group discusses what’s working well in the story.
  • Suggestions for Improvement: the group discusses possible areas for improvement or expansion, offering specific evidence and ideas.
  • Author Speaks: after the discussion has ended, the author has time to address points raised by the group, or ask follow-up questions.

In this model, the author always holds his/her comments and questions until the end of the discussion.  This helps the group to stay focused, and allows the writer to get a full range of reader responses.

To practice this process, the class made written comments on and discussed a published story by Benjamin Loory.  Now that they are familiar with the workshop model, they’ll be ready to discuss their own stories next week.

Parents: want to get your students ready for next week’s workshop? Try having a workshop discussion at home with one of the other stories we’ve read in class! Check your email for several options.  Then, discuss the story with your student, following the model above.  Just remember the most important rules of workshop:

  • Be respectful: treat all writers’ work as you want your work to be treated
  • Be constructive: think how about how to make the story better.  Don’t forget to mention what the writer has done well!
  • Be specific: avoid general statements like “this was good” or “the ending needs work.”  What specifically could the writer do to improve the story?

We will see you next week for workshop!