Every Word Counts

‘How do I know what I think until I see why I say?’ 

E.M. Forster


First, let’s consider the main elements of a short story

Please watch videos from the link below

The areas to cover are:
Power in Literature

For each video, you should write notes in your notebooks.

Goals – Make use of headings, key ideas, examples.
Notes should demonstrate thinking skills research skills and self-management skills
Notes will be turned in.

Now, read the winner of last years short story competition.

Now, we will select 5 short stories from the list below and explore what makes them tick.

All Summer in a Day- Ray Bradbury
The Lottery- Shirley Jackson
The Monkey’s Paw- W.W. Jacobs
A Rose for Emily- William Faulkner
Three Questions- Leo Tolstoy
The Midnight Visitor- Robert Arthur
Johanna- Jane Yolen
Thank you Ma’m- Langston Hughes
Foster – Claire Keegan
Shooting an Elephant- George Orwell

The Lady or the Tiger- Frank R. Stockton

The Sniper- Liam O’ Flaherty

Bog Girl – Karen Russell



We’re now in the throes of Short Story Month, a gleeful celebration of fiction writing with a word limit. Short stories are typically classified as any work amounting to fewer than 7,500 words, but of course, there’s much more to the form than that.

Working within a smaller frame, writers mustn’t meander; short stories often rely on economical descriptions of settings, spare dialogue exchanged between characters, and single scenes rather than years-long plots, although the latter isn’t entirely unheard of, either.

A successful short story should, like any story, present a conflict that in some way or another resolves. Pretty, picturesque settings aren’t reason enough to construct, or engage with a work of fiction; they should also possess a few other traits!


Identify and explain plot structure (i.e., exposition, rising action, crisis/climax, falling action, resolution/denouement) in short stories.
Understand and explain why plots in short stories usually focus on a single event.
Analyze how authors create the setting in a short story.

Define the concept of theme and identify the theme(s) in stories read. Identify and explain characterization techniques in short stories. Identify and explain the use of figurative language in short stories. Analyze how authors create tone in short stories.

Identify the point of view in a short story and analyze how point of view affects the reader’s interpretation of the story.
Write a coherent essay of literary analysis with a clear thesis statement, at least three pieces of evidence from texts, and a strong introduction and conclusion.

Define and refine research questions; cite sources accurately, distinguishing between paraphrasing and quoting.
















Keep watching Veracross for dates.

Take this knowledge with you as you start learning about various aspects of the war in your other subject areas.


War Poetry

First draft (excerpt) of ‘Dulce et decorum est…’, by Wilfred Owen

The mood and attitude of poetry changed as the war went on. As the war that many thought would ‘be over by Christmas’ dragged into its second and third year, many on the front lines started to become disillusioned with the war – both with the methods of fighting and with the reasons for fighting. Look at the two poems in the document below – two of the most famous poems in the English language to come out of any war – and try to spot the differences in mood and attitude.

‘The Soldier’, by Rupert Brooke

‘Dulce et decorum est’ by Wilfrid Owen

Try to research a little about the writer of each, one famous during the war, the other only read after the war had ended.

Assessment Task

Read the two poems above carefully, then write a short (around 500-700 words) commentary comparing the two. Focus on the following:

  • What are the opinions presented in each poem regarding the war? In what ways are they different? Give specific examples.
  • Describe the written style of each poem. In what ways are they also different? Again, give specific examples.

This work will be done at home, although you will have some class time in which to prepare. Watch Veracross for dates.

Complete first draft of ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, by Wilfred Owen (as shown to Siegfreid Sassoon)

Here’s another Wilfrid Owen poem, together with a musical version (plus video footage of war scenes) and a reading of the poem (you will need access to YouTube for these).


This is the video in the document above, to the words of the poem set to music by English singer/songwriter Virginia Astley.

Read the following poem, and think about how the description of the battle scene is similar to those you have read in the Remarque novel. This will be a class discussion, so read it, and don’t be left out!

Poems by ‘Woodbine Willy’

Following on from this, have a look at the poems in the following document.

Poetry & All Quiet On The Western Front (Texts)

They all capture and describe experiences that you have encountered before in ‘Forgotten Voices’, and that you will encounter in ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. Read them as you read the novel, and fill in the table in the second document below.

Poetry & All Quiet On The Western Front (blank)

Make sure you add the completed document to your notebooks, as it will be the basis of a class discussion.


All Quiet on the Western Front

Reading Tasks

Here are some questions to think about as you are reading the book; we will talk more about these in class both during and after your reading.

Questions & Essay Topics

The following document includes broader discussion topics, some of which you will be expected to prepare (in your notebooks) for class discussions.

Discussion Questions, All Quiet on the Western Front

Short Analysis

Read these few lines – a particularly graphic description of the horror of the battle front. Try to plan a short analysis of these lines to explain how the writer makes this so powerful.

Short Analysis (Page 89)

Written Task

Paul often mentions how difficult it is to communicate with family at home. Try a piece of creative writing here in the form of a letter home. Instructions are below.

AQWF Letter Home

Assessment Task

Summarise the main themes of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, and show how the author reveals these themes in his writing style, descriptive style, and the choice of events he describes. Give clear and specific examples in your answer.

This essay will be done in class. We will discuss these themes in a previous lesson and you need to make complete notes at that time. You will then have some class time in which to turn these notes into an essay plan.

Watch Veracross for dates.

A scene from the Battle of Arras, northern France, c.1916 (unknown photographer)

Finally, a modern take on the First World War: two songs from the recent album ‘Let England Shake’ by P.J.Harvey. Does the imagery in the first song remind you of Wilfrid Owen? And notice the comparison in the second song of ‘bitter branches’ with the white hands of women waving farewell to their loved ones as they leave for the Front.

Listen to this…

04 The Words That Maketh Murder                                             09 Bitter Branches


Read this…, by Michael Morpurgo, author of ‘War Horse’.


Don’t forget the classic film of the book, which won the Oscar for best film in 1930.


Have a think about the document below, that includes a table to be filled in explaining the symbolism of certain events in the film and book.

Fiction to Film


Here is a scene from the film, that was included in the script almost exactly as it happened in the book. What is the scene? Describe the scene, its place in the sequence of events, and its significance.


Further Reading & Viewing

‘Journey’s End’, by R.C.Sheriff (play)

‘La Grande Illusion’, directed by Jean Renoir (film)

‘Paths to Glory’, directed by Stanley Kubrick (film)

‘Birdsong’, by Sebastian Faulks (novel)

‘War Horse’, by Michael Morpurgo (novel & play – don’t bother with the film!)


This is the end of this unit. Please leave comments below.


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