"Four" by Izrahmae Suico (The Philippines)
Issue 3.3 November 2021
Read the piece here.
Pre-Reading Quick Write:
Sometimes memories of moments with heightened emotions stay with us the longest. Think of a time from your childhood that brought a sense of adventure, excitement, pride, or sadness. Spend five minutes writing about this memory—consider the sensory details that you remember, the situation or context surrounding the moment, and the lasting emotional impression that stuck with you.
Before reading the story “Four,” reflect on the experience of writing your pre-reading quick write: What was easy or difficult about capturing the memory on paper? Did you find you wanted to write the story in the present or past tense? Were some details easier to remember or some feelings easier to explain than others? Considering your experience with this task will help you read “Four” in closer detail.
Where in the essay does descriptive language contribute to a dreamlike memory of these events? This story could be considered an example of magical realism—a genre rooted in Latin American literature in which literary writing is infused with the mystical, the spiritual world and fantastical elements. Where do you see evidence of magical realism in the story?
What is the role of the single line of dialogue in the story? Why is the line repeated? What effect do those words have on the reader and on the girl in the story?
This essay concludes with a simple sentence: There, she cried. Analyze the writer’s choice here: why conclude this essay with the girl finally crying? How does this sentence mark a change in the mood? What statement about this particular memory—or perhaps about childhood memories in general—is this sentence making?
Personal Narrative: Reflect on a moment in your life that you’d like to craft into a narrative that engages readers through sensory details, the sequence of events, and poignant dialogue. Like the author of “Four,” you may find that you’re still not quite sure how to take an overall lesson from the moment, but that’s okay. This is a personal narrative, not a fable—the story doesn’t need to have a moral or lesson, but it should reveal something about who you are as a person, or show why an event or other person holds significance for you. Most importantly, bring the reader into the moment. Whether you write in past tense or present, first person or third, readers should feel like we’re sharing the experience with you. Read more about writing creative nonfiction in our Q&A with Rachel Friedman, the guest judge for our 2020 Creative Nonfiction Competition. Finally, you might choose to return to the first discussion question and consider using magical realism in your story—after all, memories often have a dreamlike or mystical quality as we recall and recreate them in a story.
We hope you and your students enjoy reading and discussing Write the World Review issue 3.3. We hope these writing prompts and discussion questions lead to fruitful discussion, thoughtful analysis, and creative writing in your class. Please reach out to our teacher liaison Lori Pelliccia (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your suggestions and feedback. We'd love to hear which activities you used in class and how we can best support you with our future writing projects and lesson plans. If you have a moment to provide some feedback on this survey we'd be very appreciative. We look forward to hearing from you, and we wish you and your students all the best in your reading and writing endeavors!