A Little Something About Myself
Starting this week, you will be working on writing projects that you get to revise and resubmit after your writing coach has read and commented on them. This week, you’ll write a first draft of a tall tale.
If you’ve ever heard of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, or John Henry, then you are probably familiar with tall tales. Your job this week is to write your own tall tale with your own tall tale hero.
What makes a tale a tall tale? All tall tales (including yours) must have:
1. A larger-than-life, super-amazing hero who has a specific job (e.g. lumberjack, cowboy, tree planter, railroad builder)
2. Lots of exaggeration. Big things are really big. Strong men are really strong, etc.
3. A problem that is solved in a funny, clever way
Here are some of the exaggerations that are part of the Paul Bunyan tall tale:
As a child, Paul played with an axe and crosscut saw like other children playedwith yo-yos and dolls. On his first birthday, his father gave him a pet blue oxnamed Babe.
Babe grew to be seven axe handles and a plug of tobacco wide between theeyes,and as a snack would eat thirty bales of hay...wire and all.
Paul and Babe were so large, the tracks they madewalkingaround Minnesota filled up and made the state’s famous 10,000 lakes.
The first thing you need to do is choose a hero and his occupation. Below are some suggestions, but you are not limited to this list. Come up with your own ideas if you like, or you can use one of these ideas. Feel free to change the name.
Buddy Bryant, the greatest baseball player ever
Sarah Summit, the greatest mountain climber ever
Smokey Smith, the greatest firefighter ever
Johnny Justice, the greatest police officer ever
Florence Flounder, the greatest fisherwoman ever
Jack Hammer, the greatest construction worker ever
Carl Cranium, the smartest student ever
After you choose a hero, think about how he became interested in his occupation. Come up with an outrageous story about how he got started.
Give some wild examples of how good he is at his job (for example: Buddy once hit a fly ball so high he rounded the bases before it came down. Or, Sarah took a step ladder to the top of Mount Everest to get a better view.
Have your hero face a major problem that requires all his or her might to solve. Paul Bunyan had to beat a tree-cutting machine in a competition. John Henry had to hammer his way through a mountain.
Sometimes tall tales have sad endings — the hero dies or is defeated. Yours doesn’t have to. End it any way you’d like.
Suggested length: Stories like this are usually about two to four pages, but don’t worry too much about length. Just tell your story. Remember, this is just a first draft.