For this project, we wrote narratives about something that has happened in our life. We could write about anything, the possibilities were endless. But the main reason we wrote these pieces was to strengthen our writing skills. We focused on three things to incorporate into our narrative: Journey, Description and Dialogue (JDD). We learned about the Hero's Journey by looking at the movies and books we watched in class and seeing how their plots fit into the journey. We spent a whole week describing shells to build up our descriptive writing skills and we learned the ins and outs about writing dialogue.
This project launch was very different than most. We walked into class that day and the wall was open. We set up the tables "theater style" and were given a writing prompt about internship from Dr. P. Everything was normal until we heard a knocking on the door and Ms. Soler came in and messed up a bunch of papers, threw her shoe across the room and went crazy. While she was acting out Dr.P decided to start juggling while walking around the room. They stopped after a minute and gave us a new writing prompt: What just happened? What did you see?
After sharing our our responses, we walked up to Vons and chose a person to observe. You had to create a story about them based on what you saw them doing, what they were wearing and who they were with. I chose a lady wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dairy aisle with a baby in her cart. I decided she was from Wisconsin because she was wearing shorts even though it was really cold and she was looking at the cheeses and thinking about how much she misses home. But then she sees the baby next to her and remembers why she can't go back.
Baseline Writing Piece
We had to write a baseline writing piece addressing the question, "What is an important event that has happened in your life?" It was the beginning of training our brains to be able to write for long periods of time and to give Dr. P an idea of what our strengths and weaknesses were. Now that I know more about how to write a narrative, there is one main thing I would want to change in my baseline writing piece. I have a tendency to write about ideas rather than specific moments. At first, I didn't understand how writing ideas could be less effective but now it makes sense that that is right. When you have a specific moment to back up a life lesson or idea, it gives the lesson/idea substance and something for the reader to go off of. If I were to rewrite my story I would keep the idea but think of a moment to give my reader an example.
Staging "How I Won the Right to the Streets of Memphis"
As a class, we read How I Won the Right to the Streets of Memphis and split the narrative into different scenes. Each group was assigned a scene and we had to act it out. My group used a broom as a prop. The broom acted as a stick. We had Matthew as our main character, Alejandro as the mom and Ysa and I as the gang members.
Looking back, I think we did this so that we could think about the words that the author used for us to be able to visualize and act out the events happening in the narrative. The narrative also had a lot of dialogue and it really made the piece.
Initial Story Ideas
Before choosing what we story we were going to write, we wrote out as many possible story ideas we could in our notebooks. Looking back on them, I notice that a lot of my ideas have to do with sports. This makes a lot of sense because sports have taught me a lot of valuable lessons and has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people.
I used the hero's journey to structure my piece by splitting it into the four different laps that go into running the mile. The "other world" is being in the race and the character, which is me, goes through hardships throughout the race. But they eventually turn it around and reach their goal.
I think it can be helpful to look at the events of your life as hero's journeys because it shows how you can grow from even the littlest things even if it's over the span of a long time. I think it's a very positive way to look at your life.
When writing my shell description, I learned that you can use specific shapes or objects that are already familiar to most people to describe what an object looks like. I also refreshed my brain on just using descriptive words so your reader can visualize it. I think the line I used this one on the most, from my narrative was, "I waste a breath and force my slimy saliva to coat the walls of my throat."
The mile was the fourth story I wrote and it ended up being the one I went through with. I think the thing that went wrong was with the three other stories didn't have the message I wanted to tell. My mile gave me the opportunity to say my message without saying, "Here's my message."
After I figured out my story, I started writing. I really took my time with this piece. It was definitely a draining pieces to write. It took a lot of energy to construct every sentence, but I really cared about what I was writing, so I was willing to pull and tug for those right words. I grappled with each paragraph, making sure it was the best first draft it could possibly be.
After finishing my first draft and getting critique from my classmates and Dr. P, I made some changes. I established that I was at a race to help my reader understand and I also added a few sentences to show why I put myself through this pain. That's the whole point of my message so I wanted to make sure that it was apparent.
We had a dialogue week in class where we learned how to write dialogue and how to format it into a piece of writing. Visually, this really made my piece look more like a narrative.
After reading it over and over again, I finally decided I was happy with my piece. Below is the final draft:
A golden moment from exhibition was listening to my peer's read their narrative out loud on the microphone. Throughout all the critiques and edits, you would read it how you read it in your head. It was interesting to see how differently you interpreted their story and how they would tell it. They put emphasis on words I wouldn't have, which really changed the story.
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