One of the dozens of techniques my students use to get me off topic is to tell me crazy stories. They can tell I love their crazy stories so there is an absolute fight every day during small group for them to tell me something outrageous. I have tried to parlay this into a writing assignment by telling them that if it is so vital to have their story told, they need to write it down and then they can read it to me. It's funny how they can pare down a twenty minute blabathon into one hilarious sentence. One boy had what I could tell was going to be a long story about how he is afraid of spiders and how he thinks they might kill him blah blah blah blah... and I said, "WRITE IT DOWN!" so he sighed a sigh of resignation and started to write. When it was his turn to share he had reduced his long-winded story to this: "I am afraid of spiders and death." Another boy said he had a hilarious story about what happened to him last weekend. I told him to write it down. So he did. He said he was on a city bus with his brother and there was an old lady sitting across the aisle and one seat ahead of them (at this point in his reading I interrupted and said, "Nice details! I am getting a good image! Go on..." Then he said, "and she farted and dust came out."