Writing for Fun! Getting Started on Short Stories


essay writing bright students– Byron H., the Writing Whisperer

Hi Everyone,

To go along with our writing topics I want to include a variety of different genres (subjects that are written about such as fantasy,science fiction, mystery, history, horror, etc.) and mediums (e.g books, journals and newspapers)  so you can see the numerous forms that you can put pen to paper (or to the keyboard).

In the past post for Writing for Fun!, I wrote a short descriptive blurb about the Mid Autumn Festival in China and the harvest season in general. I wrote about traditions that were and are still practiced today in the fall. You, my fellow bloggers, can write about anything you want, real or imaginary. So to begin our journey lets start off with something we all know: short stories.

We read them in school and in our spare time online, in magazines and in books. Many authors have contributed, and still are contributing, to this fascinating area of literature and we can start with writers in our home base.

american lit high school

If we look back in time in early American literature, National Hawthorne and Washington Irving were two prominent writers in the early 19th century. You may know them as the writers of “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, respectively, along with their plethora of scary stories and historical accounts of their time. They helped to lay the groundwork for later writers the likes of Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe (one of the masters of macabre short stories and inventor of the detective novel, but more on Poe later!) Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury (my favorite!) to name but a few and there are so many!

In order to get started, select some stories to read by each of the authors listed above as they will give you some impression of how the short story has evolved. Many people have listed their stories online and you can even pick up an anthology of short stories compiled by past and contemporary editors and authors.

One of my favorite anthologies is October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween, a most excellent collection of short stories by famous horror fiction writers of today. You can read it just in time for the approaching haunting season ahead! But lets see how you can write your own, shall we!

october dreams high school

Beyond reading a variety of stories, research how to write a story online just to get some ideas. Authors cannot really tell you how to write but they do offer good suggestions on how to get started (what to think about, how to develop your characters, write a plot, set the mood or tone, lead to turning points in the story, etc.). You can check out the articles on  About.com to begin your search.

For a basic writing exercise you can do right away, try this. Sit yourself down, at your computer or with a notebook in hand, and let images flash through your mind. When you find something interesting popping up, start to write all of the words down that appear in your mind. Or alternatively pick something of interest to you (a favorite pet, character in a TV show, a comic book, a movie, really anything) and just start to describe what you think about it. Who knows? Maybe one of these ideas could evolve into a story.

In our next post, we will think of an outline on how to write a short story and use a famous one as an example! Maybe even your Whisperer will include one of his own eventually…stay tuned!

study hard

To help you further I included a list of few of the many writing blogs for you all to look at just to get some inspiration, enjoy!








Advice from the Whisperer: Writing the Personal Statement for College – Part 1

Hello the Whisperer is here to talk about college applications! Here is what I said last year and the same information holds true, enjoy!

creative learning online

Its that time of year again and for all high school seniors it can be a nerve-wracking and a very trying time. Many of you for the past couples of years or so have been frantically learning about and researching this previously strange thing called “College” (unless you have older siblings or relatives in higher education) and trying to study its every move in order to become part of it. Some of you might have or are preparing to visit various campuses on weekends and holiday breaks to take the tours and get a general feeling for your future intended places of study. But you have to choose only one!

You probably have taken practice versions of the SAT or ACT exams in order to do well in this last year of school. And yes on top of it all it IS your LAST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL! You now have to begin filling out the long online applications for the colleges you wish to attend while trying to keep between a 3.0 and 4.0 GPA, enjoy your extracurricular activities, maintain good relationships with friends, significant others, parents, teachers… and then there’s the college essay you have to write. AH!!!

Ah yes, the Personal Statement. Another deciding factor for college admissions staffs to use in order to determine why they should choose you in particular for their institution. Going back into the recesses of my memory (covered with dust and cobwebs) I thought about how I was like YOU at one time (boy, that was long ago!).

This is one of the best opportunities you have to show off your stuff. You can write about your accomplishments, what you enjoy doing the most, even highlight areas that you recognize are challenging and still need in improvement on, but ultimately are overcoming.

So here are a few helpful tips in order to help you write a truly remarkable statement!
To keep it simple, I chose three:

1. Ask one of your favorite teachers who you trust to help you edit your essays.

2. Choose meaningful personal experiences to write about that will show you are a well-rounded and caring individual. This can but does not necessarily need to relate to your intended major or field of study.

3. Write about something that you know you have been lagging behind in and explain how you are or have been overcoming it.

Stay tuned for more…


P.S. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for updates, events, competitions and generally learn about Areteem Institute!

Writing for Fun – Shine on Harvest Moon!

~ By Byron H., the Writing Whisperer

12 year old college prep

One of the first things we are going to look at is choosing a writing topic. You can choose anything, from jotting down your daily life experiences in a journal to creating a unique story or poem on your own. To give an example this time around, I, your Writing Whisperer, will write about one of his favorite subjects: festivals and parties! Something we can all enjoy!

11 year old college prepTonight, for instance, is the full moon and the brightest moon you will see this year.  Many call it the “Harvest Moon” as it appears in autumn, the season for the harvest.  Going back a bit, people used to call “fall” or “autumn” simply the “Harvest” as it’s the  time of year when all of the grains and crops in the fields are taken in. People around  this time of year have for centuries honored the abundance of the season with special  offerings and prayers to nature. Many still do it even today. So let’s hop in the autumn  hay wagon and head on over to see a real harvest event in action – the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival. You may even know about this festival if your family celebrates it.

Hangzhou mid Autumn Festival areteemIn several countries across Asia, including Korea, Vietnam and predominantly China (the latter a place your Whisperer has traveled to, more on that later!) people celebrate a unique harvest festival known in Chinese as (Zhong Qiu Jie), the Mid-Autumn Festival. Its so much a part of Chinese culture that it’s a national holiday! Similar to our American Thanksgiving, families get together and enjoy a specially prepared meal in their home or go out to eat with others close to them. Most people bring a treat which has come to be a symbol for the day – the mooncake. These little auburn pastries are circular in shape to represent the full moon that the festival falls upon and is the reason why people also call today the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival. Inside you will find egg yolks, nuts or pastes made of ground-up lotus plants or beans. People also light lanterns and watch performances of traditional lion and dragon dances.

harvest moon homeschoolThis harvest get-together has lost much of his agricultural meaning but the moon remains an important part of the occasion. An old Chinese legend relates how Chang ’E, the young wife of an immortal, saves her husband’s life by taking an elixir of immortality. She is then magically transported to the moon where she remains to this day as its resident deity. She is not alone and is joined by a benevolent rabbit who if you look closely appears to be pounding a meal from a large pot (his head is the right eye of the man in the moon!).

So as the summer heat dies down and autumn coolness comes back, look out at the shining full moon tonight and say a little hello to the rabbit and his goddess friend in honor of the harvest.

 Happy Mid-Autumn Festival Everyone!

homeschool online school

Stay tuned for more posts on the Whisperer’s Writing for Fun series!
You can check out the Areteem website for more details about our English language classes and more!


Words of Wisdom from a Writing Whisperer – Benefits of an Essay Writing Competition!

A Cure for Graphophobia

Why an Essay Writing Competition May be Good for You!

So you say you don’t enjoy writing? Or at least you want some helpful little tidbits on improving your writing, then you have come to the right place! All of us, whether we like or not, will come across a situation where we are required to write well. Whether its for school-related projects or at our future jobs, we will not escape its presence.

It all starts in elementary school when we were forced, yes forced, by our teachers to write a book report which we then had to present to the class and turn in to our teachers. This evolved in middle school and high school into learning to write more critically, analyzing works of literature and even reading multitudinous essays and books to see how people before and during our time have contributed to the canon of good writing skills. Such a daunting task to measure up to the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe and others of their ilk, that anyone could go crazy just thinking about and obsessing over writing the perfect essay. It boggles the mind.

If you think a high school essay is tedious, just wait until you get to college! For those of you who do not consider yourselves the most adept writers or just completely detest writing in a formalized setting, take heed! Sometime in your college career you will need to fulfill your basic writing GE requirement by taking an entry-level course that will include different genres and basically assess how well you write already along with handing out some tips. For the people who do have at least the slightest interest in writing, this will at least provide you with some advice on how to write and just give another outlet for those studying English or any literature course. But for the rest of us, what can we do to help better prepare ourselves? How can we overcome a basic fear of writing (called graphophobia for those in the know) and be able to succeed and get into the college of our choice without too much hassle? Well, you could always sign up for a writing competition.

What? An essay writing competition you say!!? Why didn’t I think of that? Well I just did for you so you can thank me later! Now I know what you are thinking. Would I really put myself through with it? Do I see myself going to someplace, sitting down for an hour and actually write a paper to compete for some prize along with others of my peers? There seems to be too many reasons not to go! But before you have any more doubts, consider that the more practice you get the more confidence you will have in writing. Sounds easy enough, but then you ask how this could benefit me later on in the future? What are the benefits of an essay writing competition?

To keep it simple, learning to write well benefits you in many ways. You improve your ability to communicate with others to show that you are literate and can use words expressively even if its just writing a letter as opposed to a formal essay. The competitive side may scare you at first but in the end it only serves to help you do better as your goal is to write a winning essay. And the more you take the more confident you will become AND the better your writing will become as well. There are times when you will especially need to have a basic grasp of writing and a competition allows you the time and space in order to hone in on your writing skills.

Picture this scenario. You are starting your senior year in high school. You have a list of some of the top colleges you want to apply to and have even visited a few campuses over the summer. You have or will take the SAT or ACT in a few months in order to get into the college of your choice. Now its time to write all of those application letters that will differentiate you from the rest of the flock of equally worthy candidates, but how to start? With a writing competition you will learn how to write concisely and see what could grab an audience’s interest, such as your potential college admissions board, in choosing you over someone else. By the time you get to actually writing your personal statement you will have had some experience already in writing essays and feel better about embarking on this new endeavor.

In order to get started you first need to see if any organization in your local community is hosting an essay writing competition event and enroll in that. And our school Areteem Institute, providing a unique academic curriculum with online classes for gifted and talented students like you, in the sunny OC city of Irvine is in fact offering one coming up! That’s right, you and your family can take a leisurely drive up to Alhambra High School this Sunday, September 22nd for the World Journal’s Fall Education Seminars and College Fair and take part in our very own writing competition as well as chat with some advisors from some of California’s best colleges (including the UC schools).

When you come to the Areteem Institute booth you can sign up for one of the time slots. We will provide you with a theme and all you have to do is write! And get this: if your essay is a winner you will receive a cash prize for your efforts! Plus you may be eligible to receive a tuition voucher to sign up for our classes. In the end, you will see that the writing skills you thought were just mediocre are in fact something to be proud about and can help you to get into the best colleges you want to go to (think UC and even Ivy League!)

See, there are benefits to writing!



Byron, the Writing Whisperer :)