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Creative Writing in the Middle School

November 11, 2020 | Brent Harris

Over the last couple weeks, 7th and 8th grade students have been working on their creative writing skills. Officially, we are in the midst of the “Realistic Fiction Short Story Writing Unit.”

So far, I’ve been really thankful for the following two things:

  1. The 7th and 8th Graders really love flexing their creative muscles.
  2. The 7th and 8th Graders are very talented creative writers.

We’ve spent the last couple weeks reading short stories and coming up with short story plots on our own. We’ve read a few short stories during this unit including “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. While we read these short stories, we’ve been paying close attention to short story structure, and we’ve noted that almost all short stories have a number of things in common:

  1. There are 1-3 main characters.
  2. It (usually) takes place within a 24 hour timeline.
  3. There is a singular emotion or tone driving the story.
  4. There’s usually one conflict and no more.
  5. We are not given much exposition immediately, but instead have to pick it up in bits and pieces as the story goes on.

After reading these stories, we practiced writing some story outlines of our own. We chose five random words, and students had to create a short story plot that had those words, in some capacity, in the story. Again, I was impressed with the students’ creativity and ability to draw connections between the randomly chosen words. After they completed their outline ideas, students had to write the first quarter of the story. We’ve been noting that the first quarter of the story is of paramount importance. It’s where the author hooks in the audience and gets their main emotion across clearly. 

The students are now working on their Final Short Story assignment which is due next Thursday before Thanksgiving Break. If you are curious to see the expectations for the assignment, click this link! 

As a teacher, I love when the students are excited about the content. It seems to me like we have a bunch of really talented creative writers at MSS. If you have a moment, perhaps ask your child to share some of the creative writing they’ve done during this unit, and maybe you can take a peek at their final draft too once they’ve wrapped it up.



Brent Harris

Teacher, Grade 7; Language Arts, Seventh and Eighth Grades

Brent Harris has been teaching Middle School students since 2015. He loves teaching students how to understand the world through literature and writing. He teaches English Language Arts, but he likes to teach other things too! Both of Mr. Harris' parents are educators, and despite trying his hardest to avoid following in his parents’ footsteps, he graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in English Education and a Minor in Physical Education; as a result, Brent is a great argument piece for any “Nature versus Nurture” debate.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Harris enjoys playing guitar and drums, listening to music, spending time outside, playing sports, and hanging out with his kind and loving wife, Lauren. A native of Ontario, Canada, Mr. Harris stays true to all the Canadian stereotypes by being extremely kind and perpetually sorry. He has been a director and counselor at multiple children’s camps in Canada and Michigan, and he appreciates the idea of teaching students and campers in a place where there is freedom to entertain new ideas and try out new things. Mr. Harris has enjoyed coaching volleyball, soccer, and baseball, and while he loves nature, he is being slowly converted into a city boy.

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