Gruelling Exercise for Writing Fitness

In my writing class, I presented an exercise to analyze a story that had won third prize in a university contest. The author had an unusual writing style that the students found confusing, as did I in the first read. It took me three reads to understand the possible goals the author had for the piece.

 

An active discussion followed their frustrated sighs, head shaking, temple rubbing, blank stares, and furrowed eyebrows. Several interpretations from metaphor, mystery, murder, and psychological imbalance of the POVC added to the possible meaning of the story.

I appreciated the creative attempts at resolution for a story most of them disliked. But, I repeated, the story won third prize in a contest. On the drive home, twinges of guilt nipped at my heart since I’m very fond of everyone in my class. Then I received an email from Emily, one of the writer attorneys in the group and the twinges turned to confidence that to stretch everyone’s writing muscle was a good thing. Here’s what she said:

“I found the discussion today very satisfying. It was deeper than most and really made us work hard and exercise our brains. I felt like the way I feel after a good workout or how I used to feel after a good run. Hated the story, loved the workout.”

 

Thank you, Emily.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Gruelling Exercise for Writing Fitness

  1. Julaina, I second Emily’s thoughts about that exercise. Although it was tedious, it was fun discussing it with everyone and made me think harder about hooks, promise, ordinary world and tension. I came away feeling more confident about my understanding of analysis points – and it confirmed for me your commitment to every one of your students to support us to become better writers.

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  2. Thanks, Carole. It’s a great community of writers and you will be missed!!

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  3. Julaina – Sounds like you have a lively group of students.

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