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Writing a Closing Argument for a Short Story Character

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/17/2012

Use this creative writing lesson plan as an extension activity for "The Monkey's Paw" or any other short story that involves controversy. This is a good way to engage your students and get them thinking.

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    Creative Writing Lesson Plan Assignment

    Assignment: Write the closing arguments defending or prosecuting a character from a story. The purpose of the argument is to convince the jury that a character is guilty or innocent. The assignment can be used or adapted for novels, plays, short stories, current events, or historical figures.

    Examples of literary works that would make good examples for this assignment include the following:

    • The Most Dangerous Game
    • The Monkey's Paw
    • Trifles
    • The Cask of Amontillado
    • Of Mice and Men
    • The Necklace
    • Fahrenheit 451
    • The Catbird Seat
    • Romeo and Juliet
    • Julius Caesar
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    1. Prewriting - Review the stories you've read this semester. List characters who have been in trouble with the law or who may be in the future.
    2. Prewriting - Organize your evidence. List arguments that support both sides of the issue. Choose the evidence you need to present in your closing argument. Be prepared to deflect opposing arguments.
    3. Prewriting - If you prefer a group project, organize a prosecution team and a defense team.
    4. Drafting - Grab the jury's attention with a dramatic beginning. Be sure to address your position in the opening section.
    5. Drafting - Organize your evidence accordingly. Include charts. If students are presenting their closing arguments, students should make visual aids.
    6. Drafting - Appeal to emotions and logic. Your arguments should be based on the evidence. Appeal to emotions by using specific details.
    7. Revising - Read the argument out loud. If you're part of a team, take turns reading it. Make sure the argument is easy to follow, not overly dramatic, and substantiated with evidence.
    8. Revising - Make every word count.

    If you decide to make it part of a court case, ask another class to serve as the jury.