How to Write a Tall Tale

How to Write A Tall Tale

Teach students how to write a tall tale. Writing tall tales are fun, like that 2,345,657-word dissertation I wrote last week.

A Tall Tale Example

About that 2,345,657-word dissertation I wrote last week–I knew writing tall tales would be tough, but I had no idea it would take me a 1/2 hour. I needed to understand the characteristics of tall tales so I could write them quicker.

I, therefore, traveled 2 million miles on foot (that took a week to do) to speak with the how to write a tall tale master. His fortress was guarded by an 8,000 lb. hamster who made me answer the following question: “What is a tall tale?”

“That’s why I’m here,” I replied. “I came to ask the master what the characteristics of a tall tale are.” The hamster swiped at me, missed and knocked a mountain over. I ran by and gained an audience with the master.

Here’s what he taught me:

ELA Common Core Standards

Teaching how to write a tall-tale satisfies the following common core standards.
W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.9-10.4  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in W.9-10.1-3.)
W.9-10.5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)

Characteristics of a Tall Tale

Before writing a tall tale, you need to know the characteristics of a tall tale.

  1. A tall tale involves exaggeration, often used for humorous purposes. Mark Twain used exaggeration effectively in many of his stories–“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” “The Invalid’s Story,” and “Punch Bros. Punch,” for example. Other writers who effectively use exaggeration, albeit not in a tall tale necessarily, include Charles Dickens (think Uriah Heep or Francis Micawber), and Garrison Keillor (Gary Keillor being a fabulous tale that comes to mind).
  2. First Person Narration: Tall tales are normally written in first person, that is the narrator is an active participant in the tale. This lends the tale more “authenticity.”
  3. Some tall tales involve legendary figures. Paul Bunyan is the most famous American character.  Some legendary figures are real people. There are more tall tales involving American baseball player Babe Ruth than could fill a book.

Teaching Tall Tales

Teaching tall tales is simple. Instruct students to do the following:

  1. Choose an incident.
  2. List facts about the incident.
  3. Exaggerate the facts.
  4. Make sure it’s written in the first person.

For example, you could write about last Friday’s football game that your school won 21-10. I meant the football game we won 213-6 (Star running back Timmy Tidewater felt sorry for the other team and scored a touchdown for them in the 4th quarter.). Todd Wallenbacjerstynomerslimkadin passed for 8,000 yards, saved orphans from a burning building at halftime, and sold popcorn between the third and fourth quarters.

Types of Essays

Step-by-step instructions for writing different types of essays can be accessed by the following links.

  1. Problem-Solution Essay
  2. Persuasive Essay
  3. Narrative Essay
  4. Instructional Article
  5. Literary Analysis
  6. How to Write a Tall-Tale
  7. How to Write an Article Critique
  8. Cause and Effect Essay

Last Updated on October 20, 2017 by Trenton Lorcher

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