How to Write a 'Lost Friend' Story

Apr 28, 2013
Posted by: Kelli

Growing up is hard, but losing a friend may be one of the
most disillusioning experiences of growing up. To know someone, to trust
someone, and then to watch someone succumb to outside forces and become
unrecognizable can alter a person’s sense of reality… and make for a great
story. So if you’re ready to write your own “lost friend” story, here are some
tips to get you started using Marcela Grillo’s “My Cuba” (TBTW, 2012, p.208-10)
as a mentor text.

#1: Start with a friendship that has been driven apart and
determine what force is ultimately responsible. This will be the central conflict
around which all the pieces of your story will focus. Once you know the force
that divides your characters, you are ready to start developing your characters. In “My Cuba,” outside political forces-
including police corruption and abuse of power-   and
their effect of exploiting a character’s personality traits are responsible for
driving a wedge between the narrator and his friend, Benito.

#2: Set a scene to shows that dividing force (and its effect
on character) in action; that’s your climax. Starting with the climactic scene
helps the author keep focused in the other pieces. In “My Cuba,” Benito has become a corrupt police officer who beats a
sixteen-year-old boy to death for protesting Benito’s disrespectful treatment
of his mother and the narrator witnesses the whole scene.

#3: Explore the original common ground between your characters
and use it to set the contextual frame for your story as well as develop your
characters. This commonality will be used generally as the exposition and more
specifically in Step #4. Write a description-rich introductory paragraph that
establishes an idealized setting  from a
young, hopeful perspective that can show the characters’ connection and
personality traits that will eventually set them on different paths.  In their
youth, the narrator and his friend Benito fish together, which sets the stage
for revealing their differing perspectives on the respect of life.

#4: Tell a story in the past tense that develops each
character and exposes the differences that have not yet driven them apart. Be sure
to highlight the friendship despite differences and establish a strong bond. The narrator and Benito are friends despite Benito’s
aggressiveness and the narrator’s sentimentality for the life of animals. The story
is about how when they go fishing, the narrator asks Benito to throw back a
large fish they caught because he respects the journey it’s been through. However,
Benito takes pleasure in controlling the end of the fish’s life.

#5: Tell a story in the present tense with a more mature and
realistic (less idealized) description of setting that focuses on the force
that drives the friends apart and how their personalities have developed over
the years. This story will conclude with the climax you developed in Step #2. In “My Cuba,” Benito’s aggressiveness and
impulsivity are accentuated by his job as a corrupt police officer who abuses
his power and devalues human life. The narrator has become even more of a
bystander, watching the scene play out in hiding without saying a word, and being
overcome by fear.

#6: Weave the stories (written in different fonts or styles)
together so that the pieces mirror each other and accentuate the similarities
and differences. Tweak the writing as you go to balance length and consistency.
Finish with a paragraph reflecting on the different paths of the characters and
connect back to your introduction.

Although this is a very structured model for writing in
terms of theme and format, it can be used to explore the complex nature of
character traits and people’s responses to forces in the world around them. Please add comments or student examples.



Submitted by Veronica on Sun, 2013-04-28 13:13.

I found this post very inspriational for those seeking direction in how to contsrtuct a story from scratch and still imitate the emotion found in the model text. Great job!

The Power of Choice

Submitted by Shaun on Sun, 2013-04-28 13:27.

This is such a great lesson! And I really enjoy that you give your students options with their writing. They can venture into different approaches to narrative storytelling that they may not have explored before. Bravo!