So. For the past several weeks I’ve hosted an informal writing group in my room. Not just for kids who are good at writing. Kids who are passionate writers. Voracious writers. Put-that-pencil-down-already-and-come-to-breakfast writers.
The group hosts about 10 second through fifth graders who come on and off, although I have a core of 5 who always come, and would come every day if I’d offer it.
I started by simply allowing them the time to write, with the idea that they would eventually work with one another to discuss their writing and inspire each other to better things.
A few weeks ago, though, I decided that the opportunity was too great – these kids were capable of great things in their writing. Why not have them do some activities to work on their craft a bit?
So I issued a challenge: write a story in 100 words or less. Many of you writers out there have picked up this challenge before. What I love about it, and what makes it so tricky for kids, is that this challenge forces us as writers to cut to the heart of what we’re trying to say. Flowery descriptions are nice, but if they don’t move the story along, cut it out. There are times, as the group discussed, where the pace of the action needs to pick up. This challenge is practice.
And what’s the point of issuing a challenge if I don’t take myself up on it, too? Below is what I’ve written over the course of our lunchtime meet-ups. I spent more time working the ending than on most of the rest of it, thanks to the help of my younger cohorts. No title yet, but if you have a suggestion, I’d love for you to leave it in the comments section. Happy reading!
She glanced down the hallway. No sign of him yet. She dropped to the floor and slithered. If he couldn’t see her, he couldn’t get her. Heart thudding against the linoleum, she inched toward the exit.
A noise. Footsteps? Or blood pounding in her ears?
Faster now, her sweaty palms dragged her closer to escape.
A figure approached.
Panic-stricken, she leapt for the door, breathing in the safety of the world outside.
A hand grabbed her shoulder.
She turned, eyes taking in the doctor’s stare, the hand brandishing the syringe.
“This flu shot won’t hurt a bit.”