6 Best Writing Lessons Ever
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6 Best Writing Lessons Ever

Narrative Writing: Adding the Element of Suspense

Kylene Reed
November 6, 2019

This last week, I was able to spend a class period in Mrs. Johnson's 7th grade ELA class. She had been working on the October lesson of the month, writing the main event about riding on Disney's Haunted Mansion ride. The students were so engaged in their writing that she decided to develop this into a full narrative story and needed help building a suspenseful paragraph. In comes me with "The Magic of Three," a great tool to help students develop a little suspense before the main event. I LOVE, LOVE, using the Magic of Three, but it can be a daunting task when you first look at the lesson. Don't worry... you can't mess it up! Just stick to the template and be sure to infuse vocabulary where ever you can!

I began with brainstorming using our five senses: what we might hear, see, smell, touch, and feel if we were about to enter this spooky ride.

Magic of Three, Red Flag Words, Description, Suspense and Senses

 

Then, we used the Magic of Three Template that includes transitions or Red Flag Words for students to help move through the paragraph. Begin with a Red Flag Word + a hint from your 5 senses chart. In this case, you are only wanting to build suspicion, so there is no discovery when you hesitate and then eventually move on. 

Magic of Three, Red Flag Words, Description, Suspense and Senses

For the second hint, begin again with a Red Flag Word + a hint from your 5 senses chart. Now, you are wanting to make your reader worry along with you, so add in a little more description with your hint. There is still no discovery when you hesitate, so eventually move on. 

Magic of Three, Red Flag Words, Description, Suspense and Senses

The last and final clue in the Magic of Three, will reveal what it is that you will be doing- riding the Haunted Mansion ride. Begin the same way with a Red Flag Word + your final hint. This should again come from your list of 5 senses. In this case I talked to the students how they would be feeling to be next in line at a ride they were scared to go on... What would that look like? We came up with the last hint and then what our revelation was. 

Magic of Three, Red Flag Words, Description, Suspense and Senses

Magic of Three, Red Flag Words, Description, Suspense and Senses

 

 

So when you put it all together, this forms the suspense paragraph that leads into the main event of the story. Locate this lesson in your Empowering Writers Grade Level Narrative Writing Guide, under "Suspense." If you have the HUB, you can watch this lesson being modeled!

Check back later next week for the completed 7th grade narrative stories!

Want to download the free lesson for the Haunted Mansion now? Click here!

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