Introduction to this Stone Soup Writing Activity
These writing activities are built around the story "Lone Wolf," published in the January/February 1985 issue of Stone Soup.
What is exceptional about this story of a lost wolf cub is that the characters seem so real. Julie Frazier, the 14-year-old author of "Lone Wolf," takes us far beyond a simple listing of events—Mike did this and Julie did that and then Lone Wolf did something else—into the inner thoughts, perceptions, and reactions of the characters. Mike, Julie, and Lone Wolf are real enough to become our friends.
Read the story and then work on one or all of the projects.
Project 1: Points of View
At important moments in "Lone Wolf," when the characters do not share the same perceptions about what is happening, such as when Mike and Julie first find the wolf pup, the author explains to us the different perceptions by showing us the identical scene from different viewpoints.
In real life we say there are "two sides to every story." Another way of saying this is that there are always two stories. As an author you can make situations seem very real (and show how individuals relate to each other) by telling the "same" story twice.
Think about a situation in which your side of the story was very different from another person's. Turn this situation into a short story, giving it a beginning, middle, and end. Explain the characters' differing points of view by telling the important moments of the story twice, once through your eyes and a second time through the eyes of the other person.
Project 2: Internal Dialogue
In fiction, as in real life, there is nothing more boring than cardboard characters who reveal nothing about their inner life. One reason the characters in "Lone Wolf seem so real is that we are shown something about their personality. We learn what makes each character a unique and very special individual. For instance, while Julie is walking, holding Lone Wolf, we learn about her dreams, about her past, quite a lot about her relation to her husband, and something about why Lone Wolf comes to mean so much to her. While on the "outside" Julie isn't doing much, just walking along a forest path, "inside" she is alive with thoughts and feelings.
Make a list of times when you appeared to be doing nothing but were in fact thinking hard about something. Expand one of the times on your list into a story. Remember to describe where you were, what you appeared to be doing, and what was actually going on in your head.
Project 3: Emotional Responses
Another way the author of "Lone Wolf" brings her characters to life is by telling us how they respond to what they see. In "Lone Wolf we learn what Mike sees when he encounters the wolf mother for the first time. But the author, Julie Frazier, shows us more than just what Mike sees, she shows us how what Mike sees makes him feel. When writing stories remember that a camera can see but only living things can feel.
Think of a time you went someplace and responded very strongly to what you saw — responded, for example, with happiness or sadness or confusion or curiosity. Describe this time in the form of a short story. Describe where you were, what you saw, and how what you saw made you feel.
Project 4: Broader Applications
Go back through stories you have already written and think of ways you can make your characters seem more like real people. When writing your next story at school or at home, keep in mind the goal of giving your characters the feelings and emotions of you and your friends.