Non-Fiction Prompt #3
Since many are returning to school today after the holidays, our third prompt invites you to recall and write about a teacher from when you were in school: the most inspirational, the most wacky, or perhaps, the most troubling. The teachers I remember read like fictional characters: Mr. W, the grade 10 Canadian history teacher who inserted conspiracy theories into his tangential lectures; Mr. L, the French teacher who delighted in sneezing during exam silence, and once cooked a can of escargot for us on a hotplate at his desk; Prof. F, who taught creative non-fiction, and changed my life, and when she died last year her former students emerged from the depths of the Internet to leave aching messages in the funeral home’s online guestbook.
In Budge Wilson’s “The Metaphor,” a YA short story that reads like personal narrative, the writer begins with a physical description:
Miss Hancock was plump and unmarried and overenthusiastic. She was fond of peasant blouses encrusted with embroidery, from which loose threads invariably dangled. Like a heavy bird, she fluttered and flitted from desk to desk, inspecting notebooks, making suggestions’ dispensing eager praise. Miss Hancock was our teacher of literature and creative writing.
Later in the piece, we hear her dialog, which characterizes her further:
“Today,” she announced, clapping her dimpled hands together, her charm bracelets jingling, “we are going to do a lovely exercise. Such fun!” She raised her astonishing eyes to the classroom ceiling. “A whole new world of composition is about to open for you in one glorious woosh.” She stood there, arms now raised, elbows bent, palms facing us, enjoying her dramatic pause. “After today,” she announced in a loud, confidential whisper, “you will have a brand new weapon in your arsenal of writing skills. You will possess” (pause again) “The Metaphor!”
In writing your own piece, use similar techniques of description and dialog, to make your non-fiction read as beautifully as fiction.
Details on EVENT’s 2016 annual Non-Fiction Contest.