Using language in stories

Revise your sentences.

Have you used the appropriate language? Have you made use of the precise verbs, adjectives and adverbs?

For example, look at this progression

The boy had paint on his hands

The young boy had paint on his hands

The young boy had colourful/  sticky/ smelly paint on his hands

The young happy/ disturbed/ idiot/ lovely boy had bright colourful/  sticky/ smelly paint on his hands


Look at these other examples:

The quick fox jumped over the fence.

The fast fox quickly jumped over the fence

The small fox,  was able to quickly jump over the fence

(was able might mean: inspite of his size, or strength)


Using different choice of words can add up a different mood to your story.


rewrite your 6 sentences adding up adjectives, other verbs or adverbs.

Here you can find some verbs that may contribute to your writing.


The brave Tin-Soldier



Listen to the story “The Brave Tin Soldier” (download from the course’s gmail box, you can also find the text attached there too)

Answer these questions IN PAIRS:


1. What kind of story is this? What kind of story do the title and the beginning lead you to expect? Are your expectations fulfilled or disappointed by the rest of the story?

2. Why does the soldier only have one leg?
3. On what occasions during the story does  the soldier say or do nothing, when more
decisive action might have brought a better  outcome? Why is the soldier so reluctant to
4. What is the role of the goblin? Does he symbolise anything, in your opinion?


Mini fictions

Watch the following mini fictions.


What elements can you identify in these stories?  (Characters, setting, plot, narrator)

Is the structure a classical one? (Exposition, Conflict, crisis-climax, resolution) 

If not, what is the structure present in each?

8 rules for writing fiction

Eight rules for writing fiction:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

– Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999), 9-10.


Can you add up a few hints on writing of your own?

Pre-Writing for Personal Narratives. (Draft for Personal Narrative)

Consider the following prompts, all topics taken from a variety of high school and college essays.


1. Consider the following quotation: “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Write about a time in your life when you learned what that quotation meant. It does not need to be romantic love that you write about. It could mean platonic love or a familial relationship.


2. React to the following bumper sticker by telling about a time in your life when it proved true: Animals are man’s best friends.


3. Movies and books often talk about the importance of loyalty and friendship. Tell about a time in

your life when friendship proved to be of great importance to you.


4. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he wished for the day when his children “would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Tell about a time in your life when the content of your character was tested.


5. The way a person handles disappointment tells a great deal about what is important to him or her.

Tell about a time in your life when you confronted disappointment and learned from it.


You will notice that the prompts themselves provide the direction that you must take in deciding what to write about. Each one provides the “theme” for your story. Remember that “theme” is the main idea you will be discussing. To answer the first question, you will be writing about your feelings concerning love. You will have to think about a time in your life that tells why you either agree or disagree with the statement. To answer the second question, your theme is your opinion about animals. Do you agree that they are worthy friends? To answer the third question, your theme is loyalty and friendship. Can you think of a time in your life that proved the statement true or false?


The fourth question’s theme is character.Were you ever forced into a situation where you had to demonstrate honor, loyalty, or trust? The theme of the fifth question is the effects of disappointment. Can you think of a time when disappointment caused you to understand

yourself or others? Once you have identified what your topic is and you have figured out a time in your life that illustrates your point of view, you can begin to write. Remember, you are writing about a specific time so you want to determine the parameters of the experience.

When did it begin? How long did it last? How and when was it resolved? In other words, you need to narrow your experience to a set period of time. Then consider who the people were who contributed to your experience. They become your characters. Be certain to limit the number of people to just two or three, because in a three- or four-page essay you want to focus on the experience and not distract your reader with too many players. Then establish the time and place—the where and when of your story. This is your setting. All that is left is your plot. The how and why your characters interacted enables you to come to the conclusions you did about your topic.

Sounds easy? Well it should be. You’re being asked to write about the things that are the most personal to you and about which you have all the information you need.

Choose 1 of the previous prompts. Start a draft for developing your first personal writing, applying all the strategies learned in this lesson.

Post your draft here. By next week you must proof read it, edit it, and post the final version