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The Rule of “So What?” AND Selecting a Central Problem for your Short Story Yippie!

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Presentation on theme: "The Rule of “So What?” AND Selecting a Central Problem for your Short Story Yippie!"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Rule of “So What?” AND Selecting a Central Problem for your Short Story Yippie!

2 So What? Hmmmm…. I wonder what this “so what?” question is all about. Let’s take a look at what Ralph Fletcher has to say about it. Page 62 of How to Write your Life’s Story please. On page 68 of Ralph Fletcher, identify two to four examples where the writer shows that the story is important to her (where she shows her feelings) and therefore that you, the reader, should care too.

3 Someone please summarize the rule of “SO WHAT?”

4 Has anyone every told you a story and you thought to yourself, “Who cares? Why are you telling me this? What’s the point? So what?” Share an example.

5 Now think back to the subject of the memoir that you wrote for this class. Recall your main topic – the main thing you wrote about. On a piece of paper LIST (meaning WRITE DOWN – yes, I mean YOU) why the topic of your memoir was important to you. In other words: Why was it significant? Why do you care? Why should anyone care? SO WHAT? List as many different thoughts as you can that show why your memoir topic was important. It is okay if you did not explain these in your memoir itself. Now, share your list with….

6 Selecting a Problem or Conflict for your Short Story Each person in your team will now SILENTLY think of a movie. Think, WITHOUT TALKING, about the main problem or main conflict in that movie. Every movie, every story has to be based around some sort of problem or conflict. Remember, without conflict there is no plot, no story. SHARE.

7 Selecting a Problem or Conflict for your Short Story Now it is time to start generating ideas for what will eventually become your short story. Woo hoo! 1. Brainstorm and WRITE DOWN (yes, on a piece of paper; yes, I mean you; yes, right now) a list of 8-10 problems or conflicts that a 12 to 14-year-old might face. One of these problems or conflicts will become the basis for a short story you will write. 2. SELECT ONE of the problems from your list and BREAK IT DOWN INTO 10 OR MORE PARTS. This will be an initial outline for your short story. Finish for homework if you do not finish in class.

8 EXAMPLE Topic: Dog chasing a fox Broken down into 10 parts: 1.Dog liked to roam in the backyard even though this sometimes led her to getting into trouble. 2.Chasing rabbits, eating acorns, digging up tulips. 3.Yard was fenced in but dog was smart and creative. 4.A fox was known to show up every once and awhile. 5.Dog found a hole in fence and chased the fox one day. 6.Whenever she got out, the dog did not tend to return and she had very bad hips – the owners were worried that she would become lost or injured as she sprinted through the woods after the fox. 7.This was their first dog and she was very dear to their hearts; they had gotten this dog before their children were born (SO WHAT QUESTION). 8.Owner screamed at dog to return. 9.Owner’s young child had never heard her yell like this and cowered in fear repeating “She chased a fox, she chased a fox.” 10.From yard they caught a glimpse of dog as she doubled back – heading down a steep slope toward a busy road. 11.…..

9 Ignore the slides that follow.

10 Good writing answers the question SO WHAT? It has a purpose, a point, a reason that is written. A good writer looks for and finds the meanings, the significance and the implications in the subject he or she has chosen. Sometimes the SO WHAT? is subtle and implicit. Sometimes it is explicitly stated. Nevertheless, a good reader always finds something to think about because a good writer found something to think about.

11 Robert Frost wrote, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” If you don’t find the deep meanings in your life or your characters’ lives, your readers will find what you have written to be meaningless. A good writer often discovers the SO WHAT? by thinking through the writing process. Sometimes, though, even with hard thinking, you might not be able to discover the SO WHAT? in some topics. These pieces should be abandoned or put on hold. In other words, if there is no SO WHAT? it is not worth writing.

12 As you read the following piece of writing consider whether the author has answered the question SO WHAT?

13 I remember that when I was in fifth grade I got really sick. My throat was raw, and all my joints ached. The family doctor said that I had rheumatic fever. I had to stay in bed for six months. I couldn’t walk up and down stairs or even go to the bathroom myself. When my dad came home from work at night, he’d carry me downstairs so I could watch television and be with the rest of the family, then carry me back upstairs at bedtime. Otherwise it was as lonely, boring time. All I could do was read. During the six months I had rheumatic fever I practically read a lot of books. I made my poor mother go to the library almost every day for new ones. Finally the doctor said I could go back to school. It was one of the happiest days of my life, even though I couldn’t run or play sports for a long time.

14 Discuss the following questions: 1. Is this a subject that matters to the author? How can you tell? 2. When we finished the story did you say to yourself, “SO WHAT?” -- in other words, “WHO CARES?” Do you know why? The story reads like a list of events: This happened, Then this happened, Then this happened, then here’s what happened next, and then finally this happened. The end. SO WHAT? WHO CARES? BORING!

15 Now, let’s read a piece called “My Secret Garden,” which is a much improved version of the story we just read.

16 Discuss the following questions: 1. What is your impression of this version of the story? 2. Is this a subject that matters to the author? How can you tell? 3. How did the author push the story toward by finding a meaning and answering the question SO WHAT? 4. What did you notice happened when the author was able to find meaning and answer the question SO WHAT? Create and WRITE DOWN a list of 8-10 problems that a 12-14-year-old could face.

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