Writer Knows Best

Posted: May 15, 2012

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One of my students is writing a short story. It involves a motley crew of people who escape from a town taken over by zombies. It is really, really good (if I don’t say so myself). Anyway, they have been riding away from the city in a Humvee, headed toward a house in the country which one of them remembers from sometime in the past (and which may or may not still be there), and they have been in this Humvee, riding, for several chapters. I was beginning to wonder if they would ever arrive at the house. Not that it wasn’t exciting! It was. Some interesting developments have taken place en route, but still, I was getting anxious.

I wrote to the student (age 11) and said, “Russ, how much longer are they going to be in the Humvee? Shouldn’t they be arriving soon? We have to move this story forward.”

He responded, “I haven’t put much thought into how many more chapters of the story they will spend in the Humvee… And currently, I’m still not sure… Basically, they’ll get there, when they get there.”

I’ve worked with Russ for almost three years now. It’s pretty great to see your students start to take ownership of their work, to the point where they can (respectfully but assertively) tell you to back off! There was only one response for Russ: “Well then, Russ, proceed!”

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