Write Right! Creative Writing Using Storytelling Techniques

Write Right! Creative Writing Using Storytelling Techniques

Write Right! Creative Writing Using Storytelling Techniques

Write Right! Creative Writing Using Storytelling Techniques


Haven's breakthrough approach to creative writing uses storytelling techniques to enhance the creative writing process. This practical guide offers directions for 38 writing exercises that will show students how to create powerful and dynamic fiction. All the steps are included, from finding inspiration and creating believable characters to the final edit.


A few disturbing tidbits have crossed my desk this year. Did you know that 1988 was the last year in this country when there were more checkouts from public libraries than from video stores? Since then, video checkouts have soared. I understand that as of 1996, the ratio of library checkouts to video-store checkouts is more than 20 to 1. Worse still, [library checkouts] includes videos which were checked out from libraries. So the ratio of videos to books is even more lopsided!

Do you know what single volume was stolen most often from U.S. public libraries in each of the four years 1991 through 1994 (the only years for which I have seen this statistic)? The annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Seemingly, this is what Americans want to [read] enough to make it worth stealing.

Did you know that, in each of the years 1992 through 1995 (again, me only years for which I have seen this statistic), more money was spent on chewing gum in the United States than on books? One hardbound picture book would buy five years' worth of gum in my house. Either many people are chomping on great and continual wads of gum, or not many people are buying books. The Department of Statistics researcher who complied this bit of data said, [At least with gum you know what you're going to get.] Don't people realize what wonders and delights they can expect from a book?

A 1992 Harvard University study found that the one personal parameter that best correlated to general work success was a large vocabulary. Yet a 1986 national survey of high school seniors claimed that the average vocabulary of those graduates dropped during the 40 years from 1946 to 1986 from 40,000 words to 10,000 words.

What do all these depressing tidbits have in common? Each is a small indicator of a generally declining trend in language skills in this country—not just in schools, not just in classrooms, but in this country as a whole. They indicate a decline in the precision of our language, in our emphasis on mastering it, and in our ability and desire to manipulate and control it.

I have found, though, that everyone still loves a story, which is pure language. I support my family by traveling to schools and telling stories. Everyone delights in my arrival: It's story day! We all intuitively, innately respond to stories and recognize what makes a story fun to read, fun to listen to, as if a [story gene] were woven into the spirals of human DNA. After I've told my stories, I can convince almost any student to create a story, to want to create a story.

However, they aren't as enthusiastic about reading stories. Nor are they particularly enthusiastic about actually writing stories. Still, they love to create stories and to share stories—even if they don't think they are very good at it.

Research shows that development of any of the major language-arts skills improves them all. Arm kids to more consistently, efficiently, and effectively create successful stories and they will have more enthusiasm for developing the full range of language skills. I have seen it work too many thousands of times not to know it's true.

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