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STAAR Literary Essay 1st semester
Transcript of STAAR Literary Essay 1st semester
Establishes a setting
Includes a conflict
Includes a resolution
Entertains its audience
Who are YOUR favorite characters?
The ABC’s of Literary Writing
The ABC’s of literary writing can be effectively accomplished through character development. In the following examples, note how actions and dialogue create authentic and believable characters, introduce a conflict, and advance the plot of a story.
1. Actions reveal character better than simply telling the reader. Give your reader a mental picture of the scene you’re visualizing.
Mother interrupted Amy’s playtime by announcing it was time for a nap. It was obvious that she wasn’t going to go easily.
Her sleepy brown eyes hardened into red-rimmed slits. She cocked her plastic Viking helmet aggressively, the horns sticking out only a little more than her curls. One fist clutched a decapitated lollipop, the other a cardboard sword. She leveled the point at my chest. “You mean dragon!” she growled. “You’ll never make me nap!”
Adding layers through details and dialogue bring the character to life and create suspense: Who will win the nap time battle?
I’ll never forget how I felt after Fido died. I was miserable.
This morning, I filled his water bowl all the way to the top- just the way he likes it- before I remembered.
2. Add dialogue and let your characters speak. Dialogue combined with action makes believable characters. Use dialogue sparingly
but effectively in your literary story for STAAR.
“Where are you going?”
“Out,” Matt said.
“Not again, so late. You need to get to bed for school tomorrow.”
“Don’t wait up for me. I’m gonna be late,” he said as he shut the door and left.
“Where are you going?” his mother asked looking up from her reading. Matt cracked his knuckles nervously before answering, “Out.”
“Not again, so late. You need to get to bed for school tomorrow.” She pulled off her glasses, drew in a long, weary breath, and sighed deeply.
“Don’t wait up for me. I’m gonna be late,” he called out over his shoulder as the door shut behind him. His mom sat alone to worry in silence.
3. Physical Description
You could tell by his demeanor that Billy Bellaire was one of the most confident guys in school.
Other guys walking through the hallway were taller and even more handsome, but there was something about Billy Bellaire. His arms swung loose at his side and his dark hair was long and pulled back behind his head, held by a rubber band. The dark jacket he wore was straight out of the local thrift shop, she could tell, but the way he wore it suggested a sense of pride, or at least a lack of caring what others thought about him.
4. Idiosyncrasies (Quirks or Habits)
Philip always cracked his knuckles when he was nervous or anxious.
Junior tapped his fingertips against the table and looked at his watch constantly. His leg bounced up and down and he gulped the hot coffee as if it would hurry up his friend’s arrival.
5. Objects or Possessions
Michael felt guilty, fearing that his mother would be disappointed in him as he looked at the locket she gave him.
Michael touched the locket around his neck and rolled it between his fingers. His mother had given him that locket, with her picture inside, when he had left to live with his father. What would she think of him now?
Miles knew what it meant to be alone. When he was a child growing up, his father had been in the military. They had traveled from Florida, to Georgia, to California, to Kentucky. He had rarely had a friend for very long. By the leap from California, he had already decided having friends was a risk; the fewer the friends, the easier it was to leave. This philosophy had made him a real outsider at Glenview High School. In the six months he had been there he had not really made a single friend, but as he stood there staring at Sheila, he realized that he just might have to change.
It was time for coach to retire and make room for new blood in the program. Coach Barnes was overweight, overpaid, and over-the-hill.
Other Good Examples
Quotes and Punctuation
1. Direct and Indirect Quotations: Use quotation marks to begin and end a direct quotation.
Ex. “I don’t want to see that movie a third time,” said Julia.
2. Do NOT use quotation marks to set off an indirect quotation.
Ex. Maria said that she didn’t want to see the movie a third time.
A teacher with a grudge
A rebellious student
A musical theater performer
A woman with ten cats A reluctant volunteer
A self-destructive bro/sis An inventor
A middle-aged loner A computer hacker
Pick a Character!
A child prodigy
A bully A ditzy waitress
A cheating student A traveler
A suspicious hotel manager A war hero
A deaf hairdresser A widow
A paranoid redneck A barista with sinus trouble
Now that you’ve chosen your character, you will decide what characterization to assign him or her using the examples below.
Active Ingredient: PERSONALITY!
Adjectives (describing words) are useful in creating a character, but we established a few pages ago that actions speak louder than words.
Try to give the reader the description of your character without using that word in the text.
My character is short:
Our school was previously a junior high, but Mary still had to stand on her tip toes to reach her locker.
My character is shy:
She often peeked out from behind the textbook whenever Mrs. Smith called on her for an answer.
My character is big:
The chair groaned a little under the weight of John when he took his seat.
My character is loyal:
The only thing more dependable in my life was my Labrador retriever.
My character is cheap:
Whenever the bill came, he suddenly needed to use the bathroom, check his cell phone, or get something out of his car.
Develop a simple plot line that allows the character to decide how he or she will react to the obstacles and that shows how outside forces may impact the characters, make them change, grow, or develop.
The short fiction piece does not have to tie up all the loose ends in 26 lines, but needs to show some change in the main character in at least one significant way.
When creating a setting, you need to think of a place in your mind. Be specific. You must know the answers to these questions:
1. What is the time period?
2. Where does the story take place?
1. At the same time
t’s only a movie---calm down!
From now on
I said to him
I promise I’ll try to be quiet.
You were even afraid
during the credits!
Setting Word List
What is a literary essay?
It is a brief short story
Literary = literature = narrative = story
Let's look at a sample prompt!
Look at the photograph.
Write a story about taking care of something or someone. Be sure that your story is focused and complete and that it has an interesting plot and engaging characters.
Do not write about a boy and a cow!
1. How did the student initiate a conflict or problem quickly?
2. What is interesting about the characters?
3. What details are offered about the setting?
4. Is the conflict solved?
5. How long is the narrative?
6. Is there meaningful and concise dialogue between two characters?
7. How does the student create suspense?
What elements must be included in a short story?
introduction with a clear setting
appearance and personality of protagonist
one major conflict that occurs for the protagonist
most suspenseful part of the story
story starts to resolve
a conclusion that aligns with the prompt
fast action, conflict is introduced quickly
Use details and description wisely
What makes a short story worth reading?
Now that you know that you'll be using your creative skills in this kind of writing, let's discuss how to do this!
First, you'll need to create a character and make them believable.
Some examples of physical and personality traits to make characters believable:
The thin, starving woman looked across the desert with no hope in sight. Because of her good memory, she knew that she was only ten miles from a water station.
The elegant ballerina danced across the stage with such grace. Although she looked like an angel, we knew the truth.
An anorexic dancer A bike messenger
An accident victim A Holocaust survivor
A personal trainer A shy beekeeper
A bus passenger
A first year teacher
An Eagle Scout
A rabid football fan
A homeless child
A hiker A butcher
A priest A phony war hero
An earthquake survivor An Oscar nominee
A betrayed girlfriend A sculptor with a limp
A missing person An illiterate miner
3. Punctuation of Direct Quotations: Enclose the exact words used by a speaker or writer in quotation marks. The first word of the quotation is capitalized.
Ex. “We’ll be home at about six o’clock,” said Heather.
Heather said, “We’ll be home at about six.”
4. Put question marks and exclamation points inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quotation.
Ex. “Where did you find that foil wallpaper?” Fabiella asked.
“I had to walk all the way back to school!” Liz complained.
5. Enclose both parts of a divided quotation in quotation marks. Do NOT capitalize the first word of the second part unless it begins a new sentence.
Ex. “Boston’s Old State House, built in the eighteenth century,” the guide continued, “now has a subway stop underneath it.”
6. In dialogue, a new paragraph indicates a change in speaker.
Ex. “Why does your mother bother making bread herself?” asked Martha, starting on a second, warm slice. “It takes her forever.”
“Letting it rise does take time,” Allison replied, “but the bread does that work on its own.”
Practice what you've learned!
Give your character a name:
Choose 5 adjectives that describe your character:
1. My character is ______________________.
2. My character is ______________________.
3. My character is ______________________.
4. My character is ______________________.
5. My character is ______________________.
Some character detail ideas:
Then, write a sentence for each that shows the trait or quality of your character without simply telling the reader.
An effective way to create conflict is to begin with an internal conflict that the main character has: character vs. him/herself.
One effective plot is to create a situation where the main character is struggling with something internally and then introduce an external conflict that will slam him or her.
Types of External Conflict:
Man vs. man
Man vs. society
Man vs. nature
Create 3 different conflicts that your character could face and how that conflict will be resolved (use your character's name and write in a complete sentence):
Create a Setting!
ocean or beach
hiking in the mountains
school locker room
Examples of Settings:
The firefighters approached the blazing, Academy warehouse with real caution.
Examples of Settings:
The lifeguard swam into the rough, choppy waters of the Pacific Ocean as the sun began setting.
Examples of Settings:
While the train slowly pulled into the grungy station, the plump rats scurried off of the tracks.
Details are missing from this example. What else needs to be added?
Thinking of your character and the conflict you created, where do you want your setting to be?
Write a sentence that incorporates your setting in it:
This simple detail brings the emotion to life for the reader. We understand how the routines of caring for the lost pet bring fresh pain to the experience.
Practice #1: Create 5 lines of dialogue between a nervous mother-to-be in a traffic jam and a man who won't clear the traffic jam by simply moving his car out of the way. Punctuate quotations correctly.
Practice #2: Create 5 lines of dialogue between a football coach and a quarterback who just lost the Texas 5A State Championship. Punctuate quotations correctly.
Take a look at the rubric.
This is how your essay will be scored.
Class Literary Essay!!
Read the prompt
We have to decide: