This assignment includes study materials

This assignment includes study materials
• Final Exam Instructions pdf
• Images for Final Exam pdf
• How to Write a Short Story pdf
Final Exam Instructions
Objective: You will write an original flash fiction story using one of the images contained in the pdf
entitled Images for Final Exam. You may only use one of those images. You will write a creative story in
1000-1500 words minimum. There is no maximum word count for the essay. Follow this procedure:
• Scroll down the Images for Final Exam pdf and select the image you think would make the best
story. Only use one of these images. Yes, you will need to use one of these images. Later, on a
rainy day, you might write another story about another image. For this exam, you will use one
of these.
• Jot down your ideas for a story. Write and write and write. Remember you cannot use this
• For example, I might select a picture
like this:
Now, I just start writing ideas – This story is about a rodeo clown named Charlie Patterson. He
grew up in Sweetwater, Texas. Oh, let’s give him a girlfriend name Brenda. What is Charlie’s
best quality – well, let’s see, he is athletic and adorable. Let’s make him super charming. Poor
Brenda is always waiting for him in the wings. Will they eventually be married? Oh I don’t know
yet…maybe. Let me see how he turns out. So Charlie needs a flaw. Hmmm his pride? That
sounds good. Oh, maybe he has a best friend and they are in competition.
Now, go back through all those notes and make some decisions.
• There needs to be a crafted story with a beginning, middle and end
• An unexpected twist in the story (irony) and
• the story needs to contain specific detail (research Sweetwater Texas images and information),
• color,
• nuance,
• at least 3 characters,
• at least 3 additional pictures that relate to the title image
• a central conflict.
• Remember to include a context/world/catalyst of the story. Either:
Everything was fine until or
Nothing was fine until
In the example above, I have to decide about what happens to Charlie and whether or not I
want Brenda to be the point of the story or one of the many characters.
To continue this example
Okay, so I have decided that I need a picture of Brenda. I have to make a choice. I think she’s a cute
little Texas brunette. I think she’s 12 when the story opens and Charlie is 18. I’m going to do a flash
back technique and begin the story when Brenda is 21 and at the end of her rope with Charlie’s ways.
She’s going to remember a time when she was 12….let me see. What does she look like? I go to Google
and find just the right image for her. This is going to be one of my 3 pictures other than the title image. I
found her. This is what she looked like at 15
Now I found what she looks like at age 21 – the current world of the story.
I like her. I’m going to create this story as the first flash back of a girl who has had a crush on Charlie
forever and is now fed up. So, my first section, I decide is her current state of frustration with Charlie.
Something happened. I’m not sure what but I’ll figure it out. But, she remembers something that
happened on her 16
th birthday, and that is going to be a centerpiece of my story to explain why she has
hung on for so long. Do you see that by getting to know Brenda, I am really getting to know Charlie, the
main character? Sometimes it works that way. So now, I know what happened on her 13th birthday and
it is time, at last, for me to find a picture of Charlie at age 15…I’ll be right back:
Here he is at 15. We know that the title image is Charlie at 21. But, for the centerpiece of the story, I
want him at 15
Okay, so now I can start my outline. I decide that I am going to write this short fiction in chapters.
Chapter 1 What am I Doing?
Chapter 2 Surprise Surprise!
Chapter 3 And Now What
Now, as I continue to focus my story, I will detail the outlines for these 3 chapters. I decide that
I am going to end the story with a tag – set up for the sequel.
Yes, you are right. This is a novel I’ve already written. My novel is about a rodeo clown/bullrider who
must face his own ego. The title of the novel is Knights in Special Armor. But it did start just this way.
My students gave me the picture you see above, and I used my imagination to create a world and
characters and a protagonist who has lessons to learn. Just for fun, here is the chapter from my novel
entitled Surprise Surprise! I know this is longer than the story you will write, but it is an example of
narrative writing from a photo.
Surprise Surprise!
5:30 p.m.
Rural Route 3, Sweetwater, Texas
Thanksgiving Break, 1966
It was the fall of their sophomore year when
Brenda’s father was transferred to Oklahoma. An
electrician, Tom Wilson had for some time wanted
out of Sweetwater. He’d grown up on the wrong
side of the tracks and was eager to escape the
stigma of the town hood. When the opportunity to
work in Wynnewood at the power plant, he jumped
at the chance. Without consulting his wife Thelma,
or Brenda, he commanded the family to abandon
the trailer and load the pickup. They were leaving
Sweetwater. June Marie, Brenda’s ten-year-old sister cried for three days. Brenda was fine
Knights in Special Armor
with it. She had never made close friends in Sweetwater and had been labeled tomboy since
grade school. What did she care; maybe life would be brighter in Oklahoma. Maybe her father
would get interested in work and lose interest in her.
Brenda had exceptional grades at Sweetwater High and had been on the principal’s
honor list since she was a freshman. And she had been first runner up at the FFA sheep show at
the County Fair for the past two years. She and Charlie had become fair friends. She never had
grown up much and was a petite 5’2″, so Charlie always referred to her as “Little Bit.” She liked
that. And she and Carolyn Connors had become good friends.
Brenda won the spelling bee in 8th grade which Mrs. Bickford was certain had been
rigged. Her daughter, Viola, was in the finals but Brenda’s final word was pertinacious and
Viola’s final word was xylophagous. Now how was that a fair final round? Mrs. Bickford
reported that the judges had fixed the contest so that Brenda would have the easier word as a
message of hope for the poor families in Sweetwater.
Tumbleweed Jackson, an older
bull rider who was known as the most
fearless clown in West Texas was still in
the barrel at the rodeo, and Brenda
worked part time at the concessions
stand. Her mother had forgotten her
birthday for the past two years, but
when she turned fourteen June Marie
made her a special pin which she had
made out of copper in crafts class at
Grant Middle School and that meant more to Brenda than anything. Now it was November
again, and Brenda’s sixteenth birthday was quickly approaching. Her father used to joke with
her about “sweet sixteen and never been kissed”, but that was their private joke. They both
knew that wasn’t true.
When Tom announced on November first that they would be spending Thanksgiving in
Oklahoma, Brenda quickly realized that her birthday would take place in a strange new world.
It didn’t bother her much. Birthday time was never anything to shout about. Just another day.
“Hey Little Bit,” Charlie smiled as he walked through the cafeteria on his way to the
“Hi, Charlie,” Brenda sighed. She was sitting at an abandoned cafeteria table with her
head lowered, fighting tears. She had spent the whole night trying to convince herself that
moving was a good thing and she wouldn’t miss one single person in this godforsaken town.
Charlie had been boyfriend/girlfriend with April Shumaker for the past six months and
Brenda’s fantasy of a picket fence with him had been over since the seventh grade when he
called her “Butch” in front of Danny Richards who had told Rusty Combs that he liked Brenda
and was going to take her to the eighth-grade cheerleaders dance. While they were flirting on
the playground and Danny was awkwardly beginning his invitation, Charlie had passed by with
all of his tuff friends and laughed at the flirtatious scene. “Hey Danny, what are ya gonna do,
ask a boy to the dance?” Brenda was crushed. How could Charlie continue to be so mean to
her? Especially now when the first boy in forever had a crush on her.
“What are you doin’ sitting there all by yourself. Bell’s gonna ring in a minute and Mrs.
Justice hates tardies. Wait a minute. Are you cryin’?” Charlie stopped and weaved through the
cafeteria tables to the back of the room where Brenda wiped her eyes with the tail of her tee
shirt. He sat across from her and felt something new. “C’mon Little Bit, tell me what the
matter is. I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s broke,” he smiled that same devil’s grin that had
won the hearts of Sweetwater girls since fourth grade.
“We’re movin’.”
“Jacksboro, Oklahoma.”
“I don’t know.” Brenda looked into Charlie’s crystal eyes and it was the first time in
years that he had looked at her this close up. The hollow pain behind her pretty brown eyes
made a chill run up his spine. He knew she’d be disappointed about moving, but school had
never been a bed of roses for her, so he didn’t figure it would be that big of a deal. But there
was something else in her face that he had never noticed before – a sadness that made him
cringe. Without realizing it, he reached across and took her hand. “Hey kiddo, it’s gonna be
okay. Honest. Everything’s gonna be fine. You’ll see. God, Brenda, I don’t know what to do for
They sat in silence just looking at each other for what seemed an eon. Brenda felt a
connectedness with Charlie beyond the casual crush she’d had on him in the sixth grade. There
was a silent bond between them that transcended understanding. It was as if he knew
everything she’d been through: the disappointments, the heartache of an emotionally distant
mother and…of course her father’s attention. “My birthday’s Saturday,” she smiled through
crocodile tears. “We’re really busy packing so we can leave week after next. So nobody in my
family will remember. They usually do forget. I’ll be sixteen. I just wanted someone to know.
See ya.” With that, Brenda slid off of the table bench, took up her school books and headed for
class. Charlie sat there long after the tardy bell. He wasn’t thinking about anything. He was
just sitting.
On Saturday afternoon, Brenda’s mother was snapping string beans and instructed June
Marie and Brenda to pack all the stuff in the storage building which was just outside the trailer.
Brenda mustered all the courage she had. “It’s my birthday mamma. Don’t you think I could go
mess around today instead of packing?”
“What do you mean it’s your birthday. Oh, yeh, that’s right. Well all right. Let’s see, it’s
three now. You work till five and then you can go do whatever.” Brenda and June Marie toted
brooms and boxes out to the shed and began their chores.
At five o’clock, Brenda changed her clothes and headed out to the rodeo. Nothing was
going on out there, but she always felt like she was home sitting in the concrete stands. It was
quiet out there and a fairly short walk from the trailer park. It surprised her that she wasn’t sad
about her birthday. Fifteen years of conditioning had accounted for at least some degree of
composure in the face of devastation.
“Hey Little Bit!”
Brenda jumped a mile up off the concrete seat and screeched. “You about scared me to
death, Charlie. What are you doin’ out here? There’s no rodeo today.”
“Aw, I was just cruisin’ and saw your little brown head sittin’ up here.”
“Oh, well, see ya.”
“What, are you trying to get rid of me?”
“Just figured you were passin’ by is all.”
“Well, as long as you’re just sittin’ here all by your lonesome how ’bout going out for a
quick ride,” Charlie smiled with his usual confidence. Charlie was never shy. It never occurred
to him that someone might refuse his invitation.
“With you?”
“Unless you can see any other ruggedly handsome cowboys around here!”
“In your truck?” Brenda spied, suspecting a trick.
“Come on. Let’s go. I’ve gotta run home and grab
some money and then maybe we’ll go shoot a game of pool.”
“You and me?” Brenda’s apprehension was
growing now into disbelief.
“Would you stop gawking like a baby and just get
in the damned truck!”
The drive to Charlie’s house was more fun than
Brenda had had in years. Country music played on the
radio and they sang at the top of their lungs. Neither one of
them had a clue what key they were in, but both of them sang in offkey tones of jubilation. At
the stop sign at the junction of I70 and Main Street, Charlie looked over at Brenda and became
for the first time aware of her magnificent smile. He had never noticed that her teeth were
perfectly straight and pearly white. When she smiled, her whole face radiated. He thought, for
a split second, that she looked like an angel sitting there against the door of the pickup with the
sunset behind her blond hair. For a second split second, he considered kissing her. Then he
drove on.
“Doesn’t look like anybody’s home,” Brenda observed as they pulled into the long
driveway which led up to Charlie’s house. Vernon had built Carlene a real nice house on the
outskirts of town. He’d gotten the land cheap and had drawn up the house plans all by himself.
They’d lived there for four years. The ranch style house was 2300 square feet of red brick and
white siding. Carlene had planted red rose bushes all along the front and rhododendrons on
the sides of the house. Attractive shrubs lined the sidewalk to the front door which was
painted a rust red to match the brick. Charlie’s room was in the front of the house and was
covered with trash, dirty clothes and rodeo memorabilia. There were also a number of sports
trophies and rodeo buckles placed on shelves which lined the west wall of his bedroom.
Behind the house was pasture land and a small barn in which Charlie’s horse Dusty was
kept. Nobody had been more surprised than Charlie when Vernon gave him a colt for his
Christmas present last year. The tiny box under the tree was carefully wrapped in green Santa
paper with a little white bow on top. When Charlie opened it, he was surprised to find that the
box was filled with red dirt and a string. He’d followed the string all the way out to the back
yard where the beautiful little chestnut quarter horse stood with a giant red bow around its
neck. “His name’s Dusty,” his father pronounced with his thumbs tucked inside the suspenders
of his overalls. It was the only time in his life that Charlie cried.
“Aw they probably went out to eat. Come on inside,” Charlie turned his face away from
Brenda and lifted the door handle.
“I’ll just wait here,” Brenda shied away.
“Would you get your butt out of this truck and come inside this house,” Charlie
commanded. “Damn, you are as lazy as you were at the first-grade track meet.”
This made Brenda laugh. She hated PE from the get go and would purposely lag behind
all the other students during track running. “All right,” she sighed and got out of the truck.
Brenda was no stranger to men beckoning her to come inside the house. She had plenty of
experience with family who pretended no harm. Then, once inside the house…. Brenda was
afraid. She saw something behind Charlie’s eyes that was secret | and she did not trust that
one bit.
Charlie led the way up the stone walkway and opened the front door. “Well, come on,”
he shouted over his shoulder as Brenda stopped to smell one of Mrs. Patterson’s prize roses.
Brenda was keenly aware of the dead silence. No wind. No noise. Just Charlie at the door with a
secret smile that frightened her.
Brenda stepped lightly through the front door…
and jumped six inches off the floor when the lights flew on and twenty-three people jumped up
and yelled “Surprise!” Blood rushed to her face and she half fainted backward. Fortunately,
her fall was broken by Tumbleweed who was there to catch her under the arm pits.
“Careful, Half-Pint,” Tumbleweed laughed, bringing Brenda back upright.
‘ “Wh…h… is this?” Brenda managed to shout.
“Charlie planned the whole thing,” Mrs. Wilson smiled. It was the first time Brenda had
ever seen her mother so excited.
“I about busted a gut cuz I wanted to tell you so bad,” June Marie chimed. “But Daddy
said if I muttered a word he’d whip me.”
“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” Mr. Wilson smiled and leaned down to give his daughter
a kiss. Charlie watched him and suddenly understood…everything.
“Now, y’all listen, there’s hamburgers and hot dogs in the kitchen and Vernon’s got the
barbecue lit. So ya’ll get what you want and eat up.”
Brenda was just beginning to emerge from the fog into the awareness that this party
was actually for her. “Charlie bought everything himself,” Mrs. Patterson smiled at Brenda.
“He paid for every bit of the food and even bought the charcoal.”
“But I bought the cake,” Brenda’s mother was quick to add.
As the crowd drifted into the spacious kitchen and out the back door with hot dogs and
skewers, Brenda looked up into Charlie’s face. “Oh Charlie. I do not believe you did this for
“There’s gonna be a hay ride later. When the sun goes down. Pop’s got the tractor
hooked up to the trailer and we covered it with hay bales. We’re gonna ride out to the lake and
dance,” Charlie said looking at the wall.
“You’ll see.”
“Charlie? Charlie look at me.”
Brenda placed her hand under Charlie’s chin and turned it toward her. “Thank you,” she
said leaning in to give him a kiss. Charlie instinctively pulled back.
Brenda settled for a kiss on Charlie’s cheek and then stood
back looking at him and smiling. “This is the nicest thing anyone’s
ever done for me,” she beamed. “The very nicest thing.”
This time he didn’t look away but looked her square in the
eye. The music from the house sounded like it was a million
miles away as Brenda studied the intensity of Charlie’s piercing
aqua eyes. His hair shined chestnut and perfect under the
moonlight and the corners of his mouth curved into a sheepish
grin. “Happy?” he asked quietly.
Brenda didn’t say anything. She grinned back at him and
lost her breath when he kissed her softly on the lips. She didn’t
know if it was hot or cold, day or night. All she knew was that
Charlie Patterson would be the love of her life.
Brenda closed the scrapbook in her mind and sighed as a tear rolled down her face. Sixteen
seemed a million years ago as she looked out the window of her Jacksboro apartment: sad and
alone and 21. And where was Charlie? Chasing his dreams at the rodeo in Mesquite…without a
care in the world about Brenda, those early days in Sweetwater or the moonlit kiss of a lifetime.
In that moment, Brenda cursed the day she ever set eyes on Charlie Patterson.

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