Storytelling 2018

“… literature is not a cold, dead thing that happened once but instead a vibrant mode of storytelling that’s been with us a long time – and will be with us, I hope, for a long time to come.”-John Green

The Short Story

Please read Steven Millhauser’s The Ambition of the Short Story

The short story concentrates on its grain of sand, in the fierce belief that there — right there, in the palm of its hand — lies the universe. It seeks to know that grain of sand the way a lover seeks to know the face of the beloved. It looks for the moment when the grain of sand reveals its true nature. In that moment of mystic expansion, when the macrocosmic flower bursts from the microcosmic seed, the short story feels its power. It becomes bigger than itself.
–Steven Milhauser The Ambition of the Short Story, NYT


Guided Note-taking: Short Stories

Six Word Stories

Grant Faulkner on Flash Fiction

Flash fiction, which is defined as being a story under 1,000 words, goes by the names of “short shorts,” “miniatures,” “sudden fiction” and “postcard fiction,” among many others. Flash communicates via caesuras and crevices. There is no asking more, no premise of comprehensiveness, because flash fiction is a form that privileges excision over agglomeration, adhering more than any other narrative form to Hemingway’s famous iceberg dictum: only show the top 10 percent of your story, and leave the other 90 percent below water to be conjured.

This form speaks to the singularity of stray moments by calling attention to the spectral blank spaces around them; it can perfectly capture the disconnections that existentially define us, whether it’s the gulf between a loved one, the natural world or God.

Say it in Six Words

Short Response Rubric: assess your journal

Watch: Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “WALL-E”) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning. Contains graphic language …

Quiz: Clues to a Great Story

Take the following Quiz (hard copy distributed in class)

Observation and Inference: due 9/11

Story Elements Quiz

One-Minute Story

Quarterly Quote

  1. Select a quote that holds meaning for you or moves you
    • Choose from a published novel, autobiography / biography, poem, play or movie
    • Cite your quote (who said it, in what work: e.g., Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird)
  2. Prepare your material for display on the classroom wall (use fonts, colors, images, etc.) and send as google doc, image file, etc. to Ms. Harris to print


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is Adichie’s thesis?
  2. Do you agree with her? Why? Why not?
  3. What was the most memorable part of her speech?

BBC The Essay: The Art of Storytelling