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In conclusion….

 Patrick the Author

One buggaboo that boggles me is how to really explain to budding authors why it’s not stylistically adroit by ending any piece of writing with a statement such as “this is my story about and I hope you liked it” or “this is my paragraph assignment for today.” Yes, I do this, yes, I teach many lessons, model, set examples, etc., but why is this not an innate act? Perhaps that’s my real question: why do we communicate so differently, so awkardly,  while we’re learning the craft of writing, than from our conversational tone?

Analyzing the act of writing itself perhaps provides an answer: young writers are disconnected from the flow of language, from the symbolic noise of speech to text in print (and I mean any type of  “print” – digital or cellular). No one has ever lifted up the veil to show them that writing is talking…the toddler sitting on a mother’s lap, having “Itsy Bitsy Spider” meeting its tenacious but tenuous hold in a water pipe, or little piggies that must be counted to and from market, or other rhythmic, melodic speech patterns that exist in all languages and cultures, learns how to connect with humans in a most fundamental and sublime way. Those little piggies sure do work hard and create loving bonds as they wee-wee-wee all the way home.

So, I tried an experiment today: a mini-lesson that took all of five minutes, so it was truly a mini-lesson. Bite-sized. I explained to students that first, do not write those types of endings. Don’t. Sorry. Gotta give it up for style sometimes, folks. (I can forgive white shoes after Labor Day, but a girl’s got her limits!) I shared with students my insight into the development of language, and I pantomimed a phone call with my husband:

“Hey, sweetie, would you please unload the dishwasher? Oh, and thank you for listening to my phone conversation. The end!”

Or ending a text message: “Thank you for reading my text message. This text message was about this story. Then End! 3>!!!!LOLZ”

As a writer, we are in our moment, our thoughts, and we want to bring our readers there, too. Being intentional –do we choose obscurity, pop the bubble, or scratch the needle, or invite our readers in, is up to us. I guess I just want my students to experience that level of control in their voice.

Dear Readers, you may disagree with this blog posting and my stringent view of this stylistic misstep. This is my blog posting. Thank you for reading it. I hope you liked it. THE END!!!!

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Wrapping Up a Year…My Gift to You

As I begin to write out the last two weeks’ worth of lesson plans and agendas, it strikes me that I really don’t want this to be quite over. Yes, I can hear you all now, that you can’t WAIT to get out for summer vacation, not have to worry about a darn thing, and mentally and emotionally prepare yourselves for high school. Well, I’m looking forward to summer break, too. But it shouldn’t feel like this permanent boundary, that once crossed, you can never return. I haven’t taught 8th grade students before, and while I was teaching 7th grade, I had a pretty good idea that I would see most of you again. Now that you’re off to high school, this is when you will really need a friend, a mentor–I just wanted to let you all know I’m still here for you, so please email me, let me know how you are, and ask questions.

Some of the things we’ll be finishing up are:

  • Writer’s Portfolio: In my overly ambitious attempt, I don’t think it will be possible to bind and laminate your writer’s resource guides, but you will have your Writer’s Portfolios, and those are still heavily graded.
  • Make sure all missing assignments (blue sentence packet, set 1 and set 2 of the grammar vocabulary words, your burning questions summer reading list) are all completed by June 12. Grading begins then, and I must have my grades done before school is out.
  • We will conference over the Writer’s Portfolios:
  • We still need to add poetry
  • We still need to add a small expository piece

So, write, write, write! Get your assignments done! Don’t worry, be happy!

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Take A Bow — Great Endings

When you’ve read a great story, what do you think when it’s over? Does the ending leave you surprised? With a thoughtful quote? Is it a “cliffhanger” that leaves you not knowing (like in the “Series of Unfortunate Events” novels by Lemoney Snicket). Designing an ending is challenging for a writer–it’s as important as the “hook” in the beginning of your story.
Here are some different kinds of endings:
Splashy
Surprise
Funny
Sad
Small Detail
Circular
Factual
Quotation
Cliffhanger
As a writer, it is up to you to think of the last thoughts or message you want your audience to remember; don’t take “short cuts.” We’ll discuss in class some of the “Top Ten” endings.
Now, take a bow, writer…

 

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