Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Flash Fiction as Argument

Ralph Fletcher writes in Making Nonfiction from Scratch to have students "take what they're writing about and put it in brief narrative form--that is, embed it in a story."

As we are studying Argumentative Writing, I built in time for students to try Fletcher's advice. We are writing "flash drafts."

When I introduced it, students asked about what it was--and I realized I had no models handy other than the brief paragraph Fletcher includes in his book.

So, I wrote my own. You can scroll through the document to read it:

I've read that flash fiction can go up to 1000 words and that anything under 300 words is called micro fiction. So, when Fletcher suggests a flash draft I am asking my students to work with this knowledge in mind.

Students watching and listening to me share my writing.
In the end, we are trying to write a piece of fiction which argues something. When I heard Jack Gantos speak at SCBWI a few years ago he asked the audience who or what changes after we read a book. The answer, of course, is that we change. The book doesn't change. The book never changes. The reader changes from having read the book.

My students are writing fiction to try and change a reader's perspective about something.

Perhaps they will write about something near and dear to their heart. Initially I asked students to think about an example--someone who dances--someone who has been told that dancers are not athletes. And perhaps this bothers this person. Instead of writing a traditional argumentative essay that dancers are/are not athlete, write it in narrative form. Show us the story of an adolescent being told he/she is not an athlete and then show us this same kid going to rehearsal--show us the rigors of dance, the physicality, the preparation, the study, the teamwork, and the demands. After we read it, perhaps we will be changed.

In the piece I wrote and shared above, my topic was creativity. I thought about the long list of students--spanning more than twenty years--who have told me that they are not creative. And I tried to demonstrate through flash fiction that everyone is, indeed, creative...and that all writing is creative because of the decisions and choices that we make.

1 comment:

  1. Trying flash drafts with informative writing currently alas Kelly Gallagher. Sharing your post with colleagues today. Well done.