Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Short Story Competition - Reut School of the Arts. 2019

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The Winning Stories
You are invited to participate in this creative writing competition
Image result for creative writing pictures
Competition submission guidelines
Eligibility to submit a story:
  1. Completed registration form by March 3 2019
  2. Class attendance 85%+
  3. Average grade over 75

Related imageattributed to Ernest Hemingway

1. The rules of writing
There are no set rules for writing and you can write whatever you like. I don't subscribe to the notion that all good stories must have, for example, an attention-grabbing opening, a turning point, a twist at the end and an extended metaphor. Incorporating these into writing doesn't automatically mean a story works, and wonderful writing doesn't need to follow any of these rules. You should be aware of who you are, of course, and why you are writing the story.
That said, there are two rules of writing that I encourage you to follow. These rules are: "show, don't tell" and "all adverbs must die". Not the most original rules, perhaps, but if you can master them your writing becomes much more powerful.
For "all adverbs must die", you give the power to the verb. "I ran quickly" becomes "I sprinted". "I shouted loudly" becomes "I screamed". Once you realise the potential in this, you quickly kill adverbs and load the power of the action onto the verb.
For "show, don't tell", for example, "the man was angry" could become, "the man clenched his fists and hissed beneath his breath". It's about unpacking the emotions and finding ways to let the reader see the story for themselves.
2. Characterisation
Not the most original method I'll wager, but this is tried and tested. Pupils divide a page in their notebook and give each quarter the headings likes, dislikes, motivations and flaws. These need to be explained and discussed; I use Homer Simpson and Harry Potter as models. What makes these complex and rich characters? What makes them get out of bed every morning? What stops them from achieving their ultimate goals in life? How would they react in various situations?
Once pupils have thought about their characters, I suggest that they complete the page in their notebook with as many pieces of detail as they can for their own character. Try this - take any character and write a monologue beginning with the line, 
"I lay away, unable to sleep, and all because…" 
What is this new character excited about, or scared of? 
What have they done or what will they have to do? 
This exercise is always busy, exciting and produces promising and complex pieces of writing.
3. Video clips
Short stories - How to write short stories (Steven King and many more) - Youtube  More  More  The Copy by Paul Jennings
There's something a bit weird about the idea of being a writer; it's a vague, wishy-washy concept for students. They don't yet understand the hours of admin, self-promotion, editing, graft, grief and rejection that writers go through. Many pupls seem to think writers have great lives, are fabulously wealthy and sit around all day making up stories, all of which go on to be published without much bother at all. SLook at some of the video clips above -  video clips of writers talking about writing, sharing the pain they've gone through, their thought processes and daily routines.
4. Narrative distance
Narrative distance is the proximity of a reader's experience to the character's thoughts. How close will we get? A close-up narrative would allow us to share the character's complete thought process, hear their heartbeat, feel their discomfort. A mid-distance narrative would give us key insights into pertinent thoughts the character has, but not bother us with every detail; we would see the character going into a coffee shop and have to surmise their mood and personality by observing how they react and interact. This is more of a film director's vantage point. And for a long-distance narrative, we only see the character from a distance – in the midst of other people, operating in a vast and complex society. We would come to understand them from the way they move through the world and the opinions that other characters have of them. It's a bird's eye view.
There is a lot in here, and mastering these narrative distances would take considerable effort and time. But if you could get to grips with them and become comfortable in zooming in and out on a story, then you will have developed some intricate and powerful writing abilities.
5. Story prompts
The oldest trick in the book, perhaps, but still a good one. 
Writing Prompts    -  is an excellent website full of creative writing resources to use in class. 
Choose one at random, and as you write, I will write. It's important to set attainable goals for this – agree that by the end of five minutes everyone will have written 30 - 50 words, say, including me.
Keep trying - DON'T GIVE UP - if you're struggling or stuck try to understand what the problem is, what you tried to start writing at the beginning, what their last sentence is, and give them a couple of options for where to go next. By writing together it's possible to get a whole class writing happily, and at some stage you'll be content and confident enough with your stories to want to be let free to write without being asked for regular progress reports.

Short Story Ideas for Students

  1. Your story begins with two students inside the school, a note from the principal and a fish bowl. You must incorporate all of these elements into your short story.
  2. You and your best friend go to the local diner after school for a milkshake. Once you arrive, you stumble upon a mysterious note from your teacher. In your story, include what the note from the teacher says, and create a tale about what happens after the note is discovered.
  3. You walk into the cafeteria one day for lunch, only to discover that your two best friends are in an argument. What is the argument about, and how are you going to help them solve it?
  4.  Write a story from the perspective of an animal at the local shelter. What type of animal is your main character going to be? Will your character go home with a family, or make friends at the shelter? Discuss the animal’s experience and how the animal might be feeling.
  5. You are babysitting two kids after school, and it’s a spooky, stormy night. You hear a loud crash… and your story begins. Write about what happens throughout the evening, and create a story about your adventures as a responsible babysitter.
  6. You just received the biggest surprise of your life. What is the surprise? Do you love it or hate it? Write a story that clearly states what the surprise is, and how your character reacts to that surprise.
  7. You walk onto the playground after school. You have two choices in front of you: You can join your three oldest friends by the swings, or you can meet up with your three new friends under the pavilion. Write a story about the choice that you make and the things that happen as a result of your decision.
  8.  Create a character that is going to run for public office. What position will your character be seeking? What are the goals and priorities that your character will promote during his or her campaign? What challenges will your character encounter along the way? Write a story about that election, and don’t forget to include the results!
  9. You didn’t think you believed in fairytales anymore until the impossible happened. Write a story about your favorite childhood fairytale that has come to life — right within your own hometown!
  10. You have boarded a plane in order to embark on your dream vacation. However, when you are already en route, you realize that you are heading to a completely different destination than you expected. Write a story about where you end up, and what happens to you once you arrive.
  11. Write a story about a character who is the complete opposite of you. Tell about your character’s personality and passions, and give them an adventure to enjoy in the tale.
  • The winning stories will be posted on my website and there will be additional prizes.
  • The choice of subject for the story is flexible - it can be a true story or a story you have 'made-up'.
  • It can be fiction or non-fiction, real-life or fantasy.
  • Any genre.

For more inspiration, here is the story I read to you in class by Etgar Keret:

“The Story, Victorious”  - by Etgar Keret
                This story is the best story in the book. More than that, this story is the best story in the world. And we weren’t the ones to come to that conclusion. It was also reached by a unanimous team of dozens of unaffiliated experts who—employing strict laboratory standards—measured it against a representative sampling taken from world literature. This story is a unique Israeli innovation. And I bet you’re asking yourselves, how is it that we (tiny little Israel) composed it, and not the Americans? What you should know is that the Americans are asking themselves the same thing. And more than a few of the bigwigs in American publishing stand to lose their jobs because they didn’t have that answer at the ready while it still mattered.
                Just as our army is the best army in the world—same with this story. We’re talking here about an opening so innovative that it’s protected by registered patent. And where is this patent registered? That’s the thing, it’s registered in the story itself! This story’s got no shtick to it, no trick to it, no touchy-feely bits. It’s forged from a single block, an amalgam of deep insights and aluminum. It won’t rust, it won’t bust, but it may wander. It’s supercontemporary, and timelessly literary. Let History be the judge! And by the way, according to many fine folk, judgment’s been passed—and our story came up aces.
                “What’s so special about this story?” people ask out of innocence or ignorance (depending on who’s asking). “What it got that isn’t in Chekhov or Kafka or I-don’t-know-who? The answer to that question is long and complicated. Longer than the story itself, but less complex. Because there’s nothing more intricate than this story. Nevertheless, we attempt to answer by example. In contrast to works by Chekhov and Kafka, at the end of this story, one lucky winner—randomly selected from among all the correct readers—will receive a brand-new Mazda Lantis with a metallic gray finish. And from among the incorrect readers, one special someone will be selected to receive another car, cheaper but no less impressive in its metallic grayness to that he or she shouldn’t feel bad. Because this story isn’t here to condescend. It’s here so that you’ll feel good. What’s that saying printed on the place mats at the diner near your house? ENJOY YOURSELF—TELL YOUR FRIENDS! DIDN’T ENJOY YOURSELF—TELL US! Or, in this case—report it to the story. Because this story doesn’t just tell, it also listens. Its ears, as they say, are attuned to every stirring of the public’s heart. And when the public has had enough and calls for someone to put an end to it, this story won’t drag its feet or grab hold of the edges of the altar. It will, simply, stop.