My students teach me to be a better writer. By reading their writing and teaching the concepts of story, I am better prepared when I sit down to examine my own work. I also have a greater joy for writing because of the enthusiasm for drama that my students share with me every day.

Oh, the drama.

No one knows drama like middle school students.

Story proofs of drama:

  • A serial killer preys on a small town. After 367 people have disappeared, one young girl decides to stand up for her townspeople while battling the ups and downs of growing up with a single parent.
  • A young girl is accused of murder. (She did it, but it’s not her fault.) She’s been committed to an insane asylum and now her best friends must break her out before she misses the prom.
  • Zombies (the Chernobyl kind) are attacking the U.S. Cue big guns, ammo and chase scenes. Even the old ladies will die. No one is safe. Especially not the pizza delivery boy.

Amidst such drama (and seemingly necessary violence), I recently came across a real tear jerker. It’s the story of a family on vacation to a tropical island. The family spends many days enjoying each other’s company. But then they get sick. With fevers, they begin to fight with one another. Things are uncomfortable. Finally, at the heart-wrenching scene of a child’s impending death, the narrator says:

But the key to the child’s health lay within her mother’s heart.

Sigh. What beautiful words. What warm sentiment.

Page turn.

When the mother realized the truth, she quickly found a hacksaw and began to tear through her own flesh.

I’M SORRY, WHAT?

And with her last breath, she pulled the key from her heart and gave it to her child.

Wow. What warm sentiment. Warm, like blood.

Note to self: Cue lesson about the contract a writer makes with the reader. (If you’re going to write a story that ends in a paranormal human sacrifice, you have to drop in scenes, hints or language that make this act believable, even necessary, for the reader.)

Note for self: Remember to consider my contract with the reader AND remember to find joy in the drama, even if it lacks violence.