This summer, I worked with a small group of homeschool kids in a weekly writing class. We explored fiction writing including story elements and the hero’s journey. The goal was to develop a protagonist and antagonist, outline a story line including setting, characters, plot, and problem and resolution. The students then learned about the “hero’s journey”, a narrative that dominates most fiction, and structured their tale around that format. Each student chose one part of their story to stretch out using sensory details to make it more interesting. The writers were of all different abilities and had varying experience with fiction writing. Each student was immensely proud of his story! The following is written by Jacob.

1,000 Miles Away

by Jacob

Chapter 1

A Big Happy Family

Hi, I’m King the dog. I live on the shore of Florida state. I love it here. I have everything I could ever ask for: food, family, clean water. But, one day, this all changed. I remember the day. I was in the play room with baby Lucy. We were playing with building blocks, until I started to hear a ringing. I thought nothing of it at first but then dad and mom started panicking when they saw their phones. In an instant they grabbed Lucy and ran out the door. I was quite confused so I followed them to make sure everything was ok. By the time we were done running, we had made it in the car and we were in a lot of traffic. I mean if mom and dad weren’t so worried this would be chasing heaven! Then after a few minutes we made it up to a man at a stand, but he didn’t let us go. Next thing I knew, they kicked me out of the car. I thought maybe they wanted me to take a piddle or maybe go for a walk. But no, they just drove off. Then the man that told me to leave shooed me away, and there I was. Alone, scared, and completely clueless.

Chapter 2

It Happened In A Flash

I sat there, completely dumbfounded at what just happened. Then I heard a man’s voice. It sounded something like “Evacuate! Hurricane warning!” I never understood human very good but when I heard “warning!” I knew something was wrong. I wanted to know where my family was going, or when I was going to see them again. So, I decided to ask some people running in the streets. No matter how much I barked, they all ran in fear. I didn’t know what to do at this point. So I went home and hid in my special place where only me and baby Lucy could fit. Then it hit me… Would I ever see baby Lucy again? I sat there and whimpered, waiting for dad or mom to come try to offer me food, but nobody came. It was suddenly so silent. Too silent. Then, CRASH! A massive boom filled the entire house. I heard water roaring outside, the sound of bricks threatening to snap, the door creaking and bulging with water pressure. I looked out the front window and watched as our neighbors houses got destroyed like plastic. It smelled of salt and seaweed. I felt as the bottom boards of my hiding place wettened and became softer. I felt water drops falling from the ceiling. I was terrified for my life. Suddenly, the walls started to cave in. Then the back door burst open. In a flash, water filled the whole house. Then I sat in my special spot, waiting for this living hell to be over. Then I laid down on my back, waiting for the inevitable, but then I found myself drifting off to sleep from the pure trauma, the adrenaline starting to wear off. And I closed my eyes. And waited…

Chapter 3

It Takes Courage

Suddenly, I’m in the living room again with baby Lucy. But this time, there are no sirens, no noise. Just pure happiness. I am truly at peace. Then a noise woke me up. It was a group of men calling out something. It sounded like, “Is anybody there! We’re here to save you!” I knew I needed to go check it out. Maybe they could help me find my family. Maybe that dream I had could be true. I couldn’t jump down from my special place because the whole house was still flooded. So I did what a dog does best; I barked my heart out. I knew this maybe was my only chance to see my family again. But they just passed by. Even due to my efforts, I was left there. But one thing was for certain; I was not giving up here. So I jumped into the water and swam. At this point the current was gone, so it was easy to stay above water. But there was one problem: I can’t swim. But then I thought of my dream and the possibility that it could be true one day. Then, to my brain’s dismay my legs started paddling. And then I started moving forward! When I got outside the water was low enough so I could stand. Then the water started to fall. Now that the currents were gone the water flow was weak and small. So after only a couple minutes all the water was gone. And I was left with a really REALLY moist town.

Chapter 4

Get Up Small Fry

I realized I couldn’t hide away until my family came back because I was getting very hungry. So I decided to go to the shop with some amazing beef jerky that Mom and Dad use to take me to. I thought maybe I could go there. I walked over there and sure enough it was destroyed just like my house, but I could still get in through a hole in the rubble. I took a few of those beef jerky sticks and on my way out of the rubble I opened the packaging on a sharp piece on the wall. I then decided to take a break and sit down in the alleyway next to the store. After I was done resting I went to go find my family. I didn’t know how long it was going to take, or even if I would make it, but I knew I couldn’t give up. Not now, not yet. 


I had been walking forever. I started to get dizzy, and I was extremely thirsty. But I didn’t stop. I knew I couldn’t, so I kept going… and going, and going. Then. Black. 

I woke up in an alleyway with a plastic cup of water in front of me. Before I could even process what was happening I instantly went for the water. It was so sweet. It felt like the best water I had ever tasted. Then a shadow cast over me. I turned around to find a massive german shepherd staring me down. “You’re finally awake,” said the massive dog.

“Uh, hi, uh, I’ll be leaving now, don’t you mind me,” I said.

“No you don’t. You don’t get it.” Out of plain fear I fell over. “Get up. I was the dog who brought you here.” I realized that it was quite strange that last I knew, I was walking into the city. But now I was just there. I slowly started to get up until I fell right back down after I saw two other massive dogs coming up behind the german shepherd. It was a massive, and very scary-looking, pitbull boxer. He had multiple scars, and his glare alone scared the living daylights out of me. The second dog was an extremely fluffy newfoundland. Though he didn’t have big muscles like the pitbull, he was big and overwhelming. And I found myself cowering at his massive size. 

“He giving you any trouble?” the pitbull said. 

“No, no. I just got here, I mean I didn’t do anything. Trust me, I’m innocent. Please don’t hurt me,” I replied quickly. 

“He’s fine. I found him out on the borders of the city. He was extremely dehydrated so I got him some water,” said the german shepherd in my defense. 

“Oh my dog! You know how hard it is to get water around here! And you just had to waste it on this small fry,” said the pitbull. 

“Yeah, what he said! Since when did you become such a softy, boss?” said the newfoundland. 

“I am not a softy, and you will end your blabbering now! You hear me? THAT’S AN ORDER,” said the german shepherd. The pitbull and the newfoundland both quickly shook their heads “yes” in agreement. The german shepherd sighed. “Hey you, kid. Come take a walk with me,” the german shepherd said. I was still so scared, I couldn’t get up until I heard a boom. “WELL WHAT YOU WAITING FOR? C’MON!” In a hurry, I got up and ran to catch up to the german shepherd. I didn’t know what was gonna happen next, but I knew I didn’t want to be on these dogs’ bad side.

To be continued…