This FREE Great Beginnings! activity follows the same premise that Sean Connery's character- William Forrester-used in the movie "Finding Forrester" when he grabbed one of his writing folders and gave it to his protégé, Jamal Wallace. He told Jamal to choose one piece and use it to start his piece, continuing to copy Forrester's writing until his (Jamal's) own thoughts began to flow and the writing became his own.
In this activity, Middle School and High School students choose one of twenty-five first paragraphs from a variety of published authors, type or write it on their own papers and then create a complete story from that point on.
They may just use the author's idea from the hook that they chose and totally change the setting, characters and any other information, or they can use the paragraph verbatim. In either case, they should include a parenthetical citation at the end of the paragraph that they used, before they continue their story, in their own words.
You choose the minimum length (I suggest 1500 words at the very least) and the maximum. I never gave a maximum, but told students to, "Write until you have finished saying what you need to say."
The time frame depends on what else you are covering in class, how much of the class period that you want students to spend on this assignment after the first day, and any other parameters that you need to consider.
My creative writing students spent forty-five minutes to an hour (we followed a 90-minute block) three days every other week (two days on alternate weeks) for a month. Any other time that they needed in order to complete the assignment they had to carve out of their days.
My English course students spent thirty minutes in class writing, and completed the rest of their stories outside of class over a one month span.
Along with the twenty-five Story Starts, students will fill out a 12- point Story Notes sheet to help guide them through their writing and to help them learn how to use each element of literature. Teachers receive a full page of Teacher Notes with the necessary Common Core and Bloom's Taxonomy standards and the who, what, when, why and How for the lesson.
With Great Beginnings! students will expand their understanding of the elements of literature from the an author's point of view instead of only the readers' point of view. This knowledge will help them add depth to their reading comprehension and creative and narrative writing skills.
Find more writing ideas in this custom category
Writing Activities Grades 6-12
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