Planning our Memoirs: Day 11

1. Pre-quiz. Students took a short quiz on the modes of nonfiction writing. This quiz will give me information on how well they understand the material. We will take a graded quiz on Tuesday next week.

2. Guest speaker. One of the sophomores came in to speak to the class about the experience of planning their own memoir last year. They read an excerpt from their piece to the class and answered questions. Our guests included Georgia M-S, John E, Alisa B, and Jamie M.

3. Example of Planning. Ms. Garvoille filled out her own example of the planning chart students received (download here: Planning Scene Selection Chart). This was my example:

My memoir is mostly going to focus on: my relationship with my dad

My feelings about this topic are: grateful, a little awkward, a little passive agressive

1st Scene 2nd Scene 3rd Scene 4th Scene 5th Scene
Setting  The Chef’s Inn diner (I wrote about it for my setting piece) in Spring Green, WI

about four years ago

in the booth

 Bluff above Wisconsin River (picture of it in my bathroom in WI)

Summer (HS?)

 My bedroom, the night before I left for boarding school when I was 16
Action (Even though this happened a bunch of times, I’m going to compress those different experiences into one moment for my memoir.) Talking about my dad in high school meeting my uncle (mom’s brother), eating breakfast. Awkward silences.  Watching eagles soar above the river
Imagery  The swirl of the cream in the coffee, stacking up the coffee creamers into little towers, the taste of corned beef hash, the smell of cigarette smoke on his clothing, the hills outside the grimy windows.  The huge basin of the river, glistening, the breeze, yellow flowers on an open field, cool woods, the feel of the rock we sat on, looking through binoculars
Feelings  A little awkward. My dad takes a long time to talk (big pauses), so awkward silences. I tried to impress him with conversation topics; it was like I was on a first date, even though it was with my dad. Maybe add a side note about how he’s not easily impressed (comment about my brother).  I thought this was the ideal moment, the hiking, outdoorsy moment with your dad that every kid dreams of.

The scenes don’t have to be in chronological order for now, or even in the order you want to write about them in. Also, though planning is important, you don’t have to be tied down to these exact scenes. I’m not done yet, but this is the general idea.

4. Planning with Writing Groups. Students worked with their writing partners to plan out their own stories. If they did not know what to write about at all, they did this activity instead: Stones in the River.

HW: Complete the Planning Sheet for Monday. If you need it, you should do Stones in the River first, then the planning sheet.

If you want to get ahead on writing, go ahead and write. I am fine with you pushing yourself on this assignment. The final draft will be 4-6 pages (regular English), 6-10 pages (Honors English).