It was the day of Halloween and six friends were excited to go to the Old Haunted House. But, little did everyone know, it was cursed to turn fiction into reality…
On the day of Halloween, the six friends convince their parents and get permission to go to the old haunted house.
They agree to meet up at 3464 Maud Street before they go to the actual Haunted House.
During the evening, everyone meets as per the plan and greets each other. Everyone assures their parents that they will be alright by themselves.
Everyone shows off their costumes. Carl is a vampire, Frank is the president, Brian is a haunted monster, Ethan is a robot, Alex is a Viking, and David is a scarecrow.
Everyone compliments each other. The only person who doesn’t is Carl.
Carl says, “Well, vampires are the best.”
Brian remarks, “Well CARL, you are always saying you are the best. It is just an opinion.”
Carl has nothing to say back to him. After a small walk, they reach the Haunted House. It looks like Alex prepared some tricks because he is already throwing stink bombs at David (he knows that David is the easiest to trick).
“Save your tricks for the haunted house,” everyone says to Alex.
“Fine,” Alex sighs. Ethan is about to step into the Haunted house, but he changes his mind and goes second.
Carl declares that he can go first because he is the most brave and courageous of the group.
“Actually I will go first,” Ethan quickly says.
“Make up your mind!!” Brian says, annoyed. After a few minutes of arguing…
“Why does Carl ALWAYS go first for everything?” demands Brian.
“Well, I am the best, that’s why,” Carl answers. Right when Carl walks into the Haunted house, he feels itchy.
Alex shouts, “Gotcha!” It looks like Alex threw an itch bomb.
When Alex observes Carl’s face he protests, “I listened to you!! When you stepped into the haunted house I threw the itch bomb.”
Why do you always trick everybody?” David asks.
“It is fun,” Alex explains.
After all the tricks are over, they walk into the Haunted House. Right when everyone is inside, the door automatically closes behind them.
“Are you sure it is normal for doors to close like that? It doesn’t look like an automatic door,” Frank comments curiously.
“It is a ‘Haunted’ house, what do you expect? Anyways, if you are scared I can protect you,” Carl boasts.
🙄 “We get it, you are the best in everything,” Brian says.
“Correctomundo,” Carl agrees. Right then, a ghost appears out of thin air.
”Eeeeeeeek!!!” Everyone screams. Frank screams the loudest.
Frank asks, “Can you protect me, Carl?”
“Ummmmm… well I guess I can,” Carl replies. He mumbles, “Being the best is tough.”
Meanwhile David questions, “Alex, is that another one of your tricks?”
Two of my Creative Writing students, Manvik and Sayan, were inspired to collaborate on this story after learning the vocabulary in this article. Enjoy!
“Congratulations, Sam, you finally learned how to binky!” my mother says. William, my rude younger brother, snickers, “I learned how to binky many years ago.” My other brother Henry laughs out loud. By the way, I am a rabbit. My brothers despise me because I get a bit more attention from my parents. I have a very kind mother and father. I am three years old, and I am a very special rabbit.
For example, I only recently learned how to binky, but other rabbits can do these large jumps right after they are born. Instead, I was making a strange movement of twirling before I was encouraged to binky by an older rabbit. He told me that wolves would catch me if I didn’t learn how to move quickly. My mother says to William that he must keep quiet and respect the fact that I had finally learned how to binky.
My great and protective father says, “To celebrate this achievement, we will go for a nice stroll with our whole family.” We have almost 20 relatives.
I say, “I will practice binkying in the meantime.” So our big family of rabbits head out on a stroll. The wise old rabbit who encouraged me to binky tells me, ”Just remember to keep binkying, Sam, for binkying can save any rabbit from the wolves. It is a good thing that you finally dropped your twirling act.”
William comments, “I think Sam will get injured during the stroll and get eaten up by the wolves.”
”Who are the wolves?” I ask.
A rabbit answers, “The wolves are fierce predators that have big gritting teeth and big bodies. They have no wisdom, and they are big bullies of the forest. They are greedy and selfish creatures, and they care only about themselves. We, on the other hand, care for all the creatures in our forest and produce medicines for all.”
“Making medicine is our hobby,” say the other rabbits in unison. We all eat berries and enjoy a great stroll.
All the creatures in the forest call us fearless and selfish. Suddenly our leader bays, telling us that he sees a buffalo herd. Our wolf pack is hungry so we start the hunt. He commands, “Follow me.” While we start chasing the buffalo, our leader falls and gets hurt. He tries to bend down and cries in agony, “Keep going. I’ll be okay.”
Because I am the second oldest wolf, I am now the leader. Our pack keeps moving. We almost catch up to the buffalo herd, but then a wolf howls and the rest of the pack joins in. I tell them to keep moving, but even I can’t resist the urge to howl with them. After all the howling is over, the buffalo herd is long gone. I warn them to never lose focus during a hunt ever again.
“Our leader is hurt. We have to get him food quickly. Follow me. I smell rabbit,” I announce. Right when the rabbits see us, they start hopping away quickly. It looks like one of them is twirling. I tell them to hunt the special one.
The other wolves ask me why. I reply impatiently, “We always hunt the weak ones.” We start chasing the rabbit.
We were having a great time until–“WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!!!” shouts one of the rabbits. He had spotted a wolf pack. I am so nervous and do not have much practice binkying, so I twirl as fast as I can. All the rabbits are going faster and I am lagging behind. The wolves are gaining on me, and the rest of the rabbits keep moving.
The wolves are about to make a meal of me, and then my mother rescues me. She says, “Remember to binky! It can save your life!” We winky away from the wolves to safety.
Then we see a dying wolf in the forest. He says in agony, “Can somebody give me some food and medicine for my injury? Otherwise, I will die!” None of us bother to give him food or our precious medicine.
An elder rabbit exclaims, “Why should we give you anything when you always try to kill us and other creatures?”
The dying wolf says, “We were trying to hunt buffalo but we failed, and we desperately needed food, so we tried to hunt you instead.”
Many rabbits feel bad for the wolf and decide to help him, but right then, the wolves pounce on us. We hop away just in time, binkying into our den. My mother checks that everyone has made it safely to the den. We are safe for now.
We aren’t able to save our leader in time. Maybe we should have talked the rabbits into giving us one of their medicines, instead of brutally attacking them many times for food. I remember that our leader once told us they have many secrets. We feel very disappointed and foolish.
Desperately, I tell the pack to sleep. I finally realize how being cruel and mean to other creatures can have an impact to our wolf pack. It is going to be very hard to change the way we behave.
After some time, we feel that we made the right decision to turn into good animals. Those rabbits changed our lives, and we shall never eat a rabbit again.
How foolish the wolves are. Their leader was sick but instead of asking us to give them medicine, they attacked us. We have a surplus amount of medicines for any sickness.
“Well, Sam, you learned a lesson,” my mother says. “Today, you saw first-hand why it is important to winky instead of twirl.”
“Now why don’t you practice binkying some ore?” says my father. ”You and I should start practicing how to hop at great speeds during times of need, such as this wolf attack.”
One week later, after we swore never to eat rabbits again, we visit the rabbit den and say, “We are terribly sorry for attacking you last week. We shall never harm your species again.”
The wisest rabbit knows that we are telling the truth and says, “Let’s be friends forever.”
My late grandfather, Sid Fleischman, wrote over fifty books in his lifetime. Here are a few of his writing tips.
1. It’s the job of the hero or heroine to solve the story problem: Don’t leave it to a minor character like Uncle Harry. You’d know something was wrong if Watson solved the crime instead of Sherlock Holmes. This clunky plotting sank many of my stories when I started out.
2. The main character should be changed by the events of the story. Remember your fairy tales? Change is built into the refrain at the end: “And they lived happily ever after.”
3. If there’s a hole in your story, point it out and the hole will disappear. If you’ve written something that readers might not accept as plausible, don’t simply hope they won’t notice. Point at the problem and come up with an explanation that will satisfy them.
4. Dramatize important scenes; narrate the trivialities. Use dialogue and what-happened-next detail to bring your major scenes to full life. The rest can get by with mere summaries.
5. Give weather reports. It helps the reality of a scene if foghorns are blowing or kites are in the sky on a windy afternoon or the day’s so hot wallpaper is peeling off the walls.
6. The stronger the villain – or opposing force – the stronger the hero or heroine. A wimpy problem delivers a wimpy story. Stack the odds against your hero, then figure out a way for her or him to triumph.
7. When possible, give important characters an “entrance”. That’s why grand staircases were invented.
8. Write in Scenes. It’s generally hard to find any pulse in straight narration. Color it grey. Show; don’t tell. Color it splashy.
9. Imagery is powerful shorthand. It says in four or five memorable words what might otherwise take you sentences to describe. “He could bathe in a shotgun barrel” beats “He was by far the thinnest person I’d ever seen in my entire life.” Don’t settle for comparisons that don’t quite fit the bill. It takes time to think up fresh similes and metaphors, but it’s time well spent.
To learn more about Sid Fleischman, his life and his writing, visit his website at www.sidfleischman.com.
How can we teach our students to succeed in the 21st century?
This is the driving question in education today. Now that information is readily available at the click of a button, coupled with the ever-changing technology-driven world we live in, school has shifted its focus.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization founded in 2001, has identified four core skills–Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity–nicknamed the Four C’s. California is one of 19 states working with P21, and California educators are honing in on the Four C’s.
My personal favorite is creativity. How do we help students tap into their imagination?
Creative writing is an obvious arena for imagination, and many students enjoy the freedom to write whatever they want. Open-ended prompts such as ‘What would you do if a talking dog arrived at your front door?’ are often used as daily warm-ups in classrooms.
Story-telling, a classic genre within creative writing, takes more time. And time, as all teachers know, is a limited resource in school. Narrative writing is only one text type that teachers must cover, so, unfortunately, for most of the year students are not learning creative writing.
Writing a story requires a great deal of creativity.
This begins with brainstorming ideas. It can be difficult to think of a plot, so we usually start with the setting:
Where will your story take place?
Is it a real place or imaginary?
What is the weather like?
What time of day is it?
What can you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel in this place?
Then, we explore the characters:
Who is the main character in your story?
Is it a person, animal, object, or a made-up creature?
What does he/she/it look like?
What character traits does he/she/it possess?
Who else will be in the story?
What do they look like?
What are their character traits?
Will they help or hurt the main character?
At this point, students can imagine their characters in a particular place, and this provides a context for their plot:
What problems could your characters face?
Can you think of a tricky problem that would require a clever solution?
How would your characters begin to solve this problem?
What would happen next?
How would the problem be resolved?
Their answers to these questions provide what I like to call a story sketch. This serves as a guide for their first draft. They must fill in their sketch with descriptive writing, figurative language, and dialogue.
The next stage in the process is to workshop their writing. Students read each other’s work and learn from each other. This is a chance for students to practice giving and receiving feedback:
Does the story make sense?
Are there any plot holes?
Is the writing descriptive enough so that the reader can imagine being in the story?
What did the writer do really well?
What suggestions can you offer the writer?
Next, mechanical errors regarding grammar, punctuation, and capitalization are resolved.
And voila, the student has written a story!
I began by describing creative writing as a medium for nurturing creativity, but as you can see, it also requires communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Creative writing is, in fact, a fun way for students to cultivate all of the Four C’s.