Sunday 11 January 2009

Reading Stories

I’ve spent the whole day at work today reading stories. Well, I had a couple of informal meetings with colleagues and answered the odd email but most of the time I was reading stories – course work pieces from my students who have completed their module on writing short fiction. It’s not a bad way of making a living - writing and dealing with other people’s writing.

Of course, many of the stories are very raw. Some have too much telling and not enough showing. Others have had weak or unconvincing plots. There have been examples of poor grammar and punctuation. But most of the characters and the dialogue have been good and no single story had been outrageously bad. All have potential. It’s just a matter of time and good editing. They will gradually learn to be their own best editors.

Our students have to write a self-assessment which should describe something of what they are trying to achieve. I don’t like it if they are too self-congratulatory but also I think it is wrong if they talk about their weaknesses. If they knew their story was weak in a certain area, why didn’t they do something about it? I’d rather that they gave a detached analysis of what they’ve done and why , outlining perhaps what they might try next.

They also submit a Writer’s Reflection, in which they discuss their more general growth as a writer. Some are touchingly honest. Others you feel pay lip service to what we have taught them. Most fall somewhere between the two. All of them are at least adequate.

I have to add that I myself learn something from every single one of them. I wonder if I thereby become a better teacher and writer? I hope so!

No comments: