What I’m Reading:
John Green’s short story “Freak the Geek” is the story of two friends who have been named the targets in a school tradition to be pranked for a day. The pair run to escape and reflect on their friendship, school traditions and values. The author moves the story forward at a quick pace. He uses action mixed with short dialogue to demonstrate the quick movement that is happening during the conversation.
“I never really thought about it before,” I tell Kayley as we simultaneously duck under a low-hanging oak branch, “but just the phrase ‘Freak the Geek’ is just hugely lame.”
“Yeah,” Kayley says. “True. It’s almost like the name was thought up by a bunch of mustachioed purple-hued maltworms.” Kayley likes using Shakespearean insults. I get down on one knee in a flash to pull up my sock — a girl has to protect herself from poison ivy. “Richard III?” I guess.
“Henry IV,” she says. I nod. I can hardly hear the girls behind us anymore; I mostly just hear our breath coming fast and hard and the ground scrunching beneath us.
“Like, admittedly I am not an expert in slang,” I say, “but isn’t freaking usually kind of sexual?” Kayley turns around to me and runs backward just long enough to say, “Example?”
“‘Madam, I wish to freak your body.’ Or, ‘My heart desires to become freaky with you.'”
Moves I Notice the Author Making:
- The author uses quotation marks to show the words spoken.
- Sentence punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.
- Each time the speaker changes, the paragraph changes.
- The quotation marks close for the speaker tag (“Kayley says”) and re-open to finish the dialogue.
- The characters have internal thoughts while speaking out loud.
- The character actions are described between speech.
- When description sets up the dialogue, there is a comma before the quotation mark.
Possibilities For Writers:
- Write whatever comes to mind.
- Write about traditions that your school has and whether or not you think these are good traditions to have.
- Write a conversation trying some of the craft moves in this model.
- Write about slang words in you vocabulary, when to use them and how they might be misinterpreted by someone who is “not an expert in slang.”