The stories we tell

Extraordinary stories

Whenever we tell a story to a friend or family member it usually is about events beyond the ordinary: extra-ordinary. Events that are worth picking out of otherwise pretty routinary days.

We do not tell every single thing we do during a day because, first, it would be impossible to narrate: to narrate a day exactly the way we live it would take at least a full day (first I took a step, then another one, then one more). In second place, it would be quite boring as well. We all know what it is like to ride the bus during an hour and a half and it would not be very exciting to listen to somebody telling us about it.

This way we do not tell our whole day of work but we do tell about a meeting in which our boss let us know about the chance for a promotion. We do not narrate the whole time we waited in line in the bank but we do tell that two men wearing masks entered the bank with intentions or robbing it. Finally, we do not tell how we saw several pretty looking women at the college campus but we tell about how we talked with one in particular we met that day.

More Great Writers

Saint Therese of Jesús

Saint Therese of Jesus was born in Avila (1515-1582) with a wealthy family and Jewish ancestors (her paternal grandfather, converted, was sentenced by the Holy Office); she became a Carmelite in 1534 and dedicated her life to the order’s reform. Her style was notable by the look for efficiency, simplicity, essentiality and lack of affectation, absence of erudition, spontaneous ideas and her interest to help illiterates. Life (finished in 1562) was a spiritual autobiography with periods of profound auto-analysis written with much liveliness. Her confessors were so profoundly impressed that they encouraged her to write a more systematical production for the nuns: it was then when she wrote: Way of Perfection (starting from 1573). The Book of Foundations (written in 1573) is a story about the foundation of her convents that, in regards to the biographical interest, competes with Life and her letters. Las Moradas also known as The Interior Castle (written in 1573) is her most interesting spiritual creation: it describes the seven mansions or rooms in the soul’s castle. Saint Therese’s books were published only after her death.


Saint John of the Cross

Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591) represents the final stage of Hispanic Mysticism. The image of a John of the Cross, as a miraculously original and independent figure, has been getting more discarded over time, nowadays he’s seen more objectively, with a fairly explicit connection to great and diverse sources such as the Bible, the classics, the Muslim mystics. Saint John of Cross has four lyrical-doctrinal plays: Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, Spiritual Canticle and Living Flame of Love.

Exercises for your students

Why? What? Who? How? When? How much? Where?, etc.

Let’s assume the proposed topic is “Violence in the world” (it can be any topic on you syllabus), have the students now state questions on the topic. You or the students write down the questions around the subject. Finally, the ideas or questions map would be structured in this way:

Why does it happen..? Who produce…? What is…? What different types exist? What can be done to avoid…?

What is the source of…? Is there violence in our environment?


Questions such as: what else do we want this object to do? What are its limitations? Could it be improved? Similar questions can be made to any event or process.


You can request the student to analyze the following paragraphs:

  1. Julio is taller than Albert, but Julio is not bigger than Albert. What is the difference? What is the difference between tall and big?
  2. Jesus is not just a teacher, he is The Teacher. What is it that we are saying?


You can request the student to describe objects, animals, situations, or phenomena.


Encourage for projective responses. One could be of the kind, so what if…?


Example 1: Consider positive, negative and interrogative ideas on the following situation: They decided to get rid of mid-term exams.

Example 2: Consider positive, negative and interrogative ideas on the following real or fictitious situations:

  1. It is forbidden to smoke in public places.
  2. A worldwide agreement is reached to stop watching television.
  3. Mothers with children under 3 years old should dedicate to raise them and not work outside from home.

Part 3: Writing Exercises for Students


Allow for the student to acquire the habit of considering possibilities or courses of action, before choosing one of them as the most appropriate alternative to reach a goal or solve a problem.

Example 1: A study partner flunked most of the subjects from last semester, what explanations can you give for this fact?

Example 2: How do you achieve excellency in university studies?


Teach to value the use of ideas nesting to achieve a high productivity and have confidence in oneself.

Example 1: You are in an emergency situation and need to make a decision that implies choosing two of the following alternatives. What would be your decision?

  1. Salve yourself
  2. Help someone else
  3. Carry your belongings with you
  4. Save your dog
  5. Avoid damage to your apartment
  6. Protect the animals


Example 2: Let’s assume you win $500,000 dollars. What would be your priorities to distribute it?


You need to create awareness that not all the times, the personal point of view is the most certain or the most accepted by the rest of the people. Moreover, the person that takes other people’s points of view into account is capable of placing himself in the place of others, has the most certain view to solve his problems, achieves more social acceptance, and can understand better the world surrounding him.

Problem 1: A motorcycle salesperson has a used sports motorcycle and is trying to sell it to a customer. What do you think the seller and buyer points of view would be? (What would we tell the buyer? What would we say if we were now the buyer?).

Problem 2: The principal of a school surprises a 12 year old girl smocking in the toilet. He forbids her to do it again. What could be the points of view of the principal and of the child?

Tips to improve your writing


A question, a problematic situation, or some other fact that generates opinions, is posed. Each participant presents a response and expresses it with complete freedom. The answers are written in the black board in the order they are presented. Then, they are ordered and analyzed. Conclusions are obtained and expressed.


Ideas are written in a card in a readable way. Then, they are placed in a board. They are ordered. They are selected. Conclusions are obtained.


It differs from the others in the fact that the problem or aspect to develop is written in a piece of paper, and it takes place in groups. Afterwards, each group posts its paper in the board and exposes it to the rest. The analysis is done with all the groups together, and final conclusions are reached.


Students are requested to draft a list of factors that influence on a determined element, fact, phenomena, etc. Afterwards, each needs to share it with the rest, arguing for the reasons of its listing. They all end up drafting a common list.


Each group is requested to create a response letter to someone that has requested their professional help for a specific problem.


Each group of students needs to prepare a 10-minute radio script that will be broadcasted at the end. It needs to be suggestive and creative. Then, the broadcasts are played. Finally, the messages are evaluated as per their originality, knowledge and intelligence.

Considering difficulties

Ask the student to make a list of all utilitarian objects that he may come in contact with in a 24 hour period. Have him select, for future purposes, those items that can cause friction (or problems, difficulties, etc.) in terms of their function or appearance.