A Quilt of a Country, by Anna Quindlen

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1. What opposing viewpoint does Quindlen respond to in paragraph 3?

2. What counterargument does she offer to it? List the reasons and evidence she includes in her counterargument and evaluate if it is relevant and sufficient.

3. In paragraph 4, Quindlen uses repetition and parallelism. What sentence structure and words does she repeat?

4. What is the effect of this repetition? (What happens as a result?)

5. Quindlen uses many different types of evidence throughout the argument to support her claim, for example facts, statistics, and quotations. Identify at least three examples of evidence and evaluate how she uses each one to support her claim.

This study sheet will help you write a rough draft of the writing assignment that you will revise later on. Answer the following questions as you work through your study to build a strong and successful story.

Your Assignment:

In this activity, you’ll start brainstorming ideas for a three-part short story assignment. Then you’ll work on the prewriting process that fiction writers usually tackle to clarify their thoughts and direction before they start writing complete drafts of their stories. Get ready to be creative!

You will . . .

  • Come up with a specific, interesting situation.
  • Choose a narrator and key characters.
  • Decide on a point of view.


1. What a Talented World! is coming to town, and you’re going to audition for it. What talent will you show off? This can be a real talent you’d be thrilled to show off, or it can be entirely imaginary — that’s the beauty of writing fiction. Write a paragraph describing your talent in detail, as if you’re walking on the stage and actually performing.
2. Is your fictional self excited, hesitant, or dreading the whole experience?
3. Choose a person whose life and whose viewpoint you’re interested in exploring. We’ll call this individual Person X in the lesson from now on, but you won’t do that in the story you write. Write down the person’s real name here and then briefly describe him or her in two or three sentences.
4. The person you’ve chosen above will also be auditioning for What a Talented World! Write a paragraph describing what talent this person will be showing off and how he or she feels about doing so.
5. For you to successfully impersonate Person X in the talent show, name at least three things you’d have to do differently (like play the flute, mimic Person X’s posture or gestures, talk in a different way, smile more or less, and so on). Be as specific as possible.
6. Will you be able to pull it off? Imagine you’re onstage and everyone is expecting the greatest display of [insert Person X’s talent here] ever. Write a short scene or a longer paragraph of description that takes us there when you’re trying to deliver what Person X’s talent is.
7. For Person X to successfully impersonate you in the talent show, name at least three things he or she will have to do differently (like play the flute, mimic your posture or gestures, talk in a different way, smile more or less, and the like). Be as specific as possible.
8. Is there any chance that Person X will be able to pull it off? Because everyone thinks that’s you up there! In a short scene or a longer paragraph of description, take us there to watch as Person X tries to pull it off. There’s a catch, though: Use the first-person point of view again, which means stepping into Person X’s mind and narrating all this from that person’s perspective, using the pronouns I, me, and my.
9. What would an innocent bystander think of all this? Imagine you’re sitting in the audience and you don’t know that a body swap has just occurred this morning. Write a short scene or a longer paragraph of description that allows us to watch either Scene 1 (you’re stuck in Person X’s body) or Scene 2 (Person X stuck in your body) from the point of view of a random person sitting in the audience.
10. Choose one of the three passages you’ve written so far and work it into a half-page scene. Are there specific sentences or lines that really capture the voice of whoever is narrating it (you, Person X, or the audience viewer)? Did any great ideas surface that you can spend more time describing in greater detail? Add them, expand anywhere things are going well, and cut out any parts that seem clunky or boring.
11. You’ll complete this same process with the other two passages so that you end up with three different scenes, each a half-page long, to submit as your prewriting “product.”

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