Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writing Club

I suppose I should say something about the writing club. Something other than “I’m in waaaay over my head.”

For my first meeting, I had eight students show up and we had a pretty good time. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fill an hour with stuff to do, but I forgot, it’s all about writing, so we spent 15 minutes doing just that, and then we shared our words. Well, they shared their words, because I decided to opt out of the short story prompt.

I didn’t want them to feel like I was trying to show off or something. My mistake. They really wanted to hear what I would have written.

Figuring eight was a pretty good number, imagine my surprise when four more showed up for this week’s meeting! Holy moly, Maynard! They’re an odd group (writers… sheesh) but there’s not a dummy to be found there. I think out of all of them, there are three or four on the honor roll, but each one of them is smarter than a lot of their peers. They think, they read, they write, they create. That puts them miles ahead of their classmates who don’t like to read and think writing is drudgery.

Twelve middle schoolers. They’re a wild bunch, and trying to talk to them was a challenge, especially when they were being silly nitwits and going all “writer/geek” on each other. It was lovely, even if it was a bit irritating. I only have an hour here, kids, and there is a lot of ground to cover.

We’re prepping our NaNo stuff, but I think I’ll let them work it on their own. I’ll send off for the packet of things that might help, but other than that, I’ll support them, challenge them, but since not all of them want to do it, we won’t make it a group project.

However, we do have one group project and that is a book we’ll get to take home at the end of the year. Every month, we’ll write a story or a bunch of poems, or whatever, and we’ll clean them up, and put them in a “chapter” (which is actually a category, i.e. Humor, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Scary stories, etc.).

Today we did a short story and all I said was, make it scary and make it something from your childhood. This time I joined in and I’m glad I did. Mine was more flash fiction than short story, but it was complete. They asked for more, and that’s when I realized they don’t know where to end a story. They’ll just keep on writing until the whole thing is deader than dead.

Our next prompt will be something different; instead of a beginning sentence, I’ll give them the last sentence, and they need to write a story that comes to a close.

I wonder how many will show up next week…


  1. Karen, I think this is fantastic. To stimulate them to write like that is such a gift. I have such admiration for you taking the time to do it. Please let us know how it all goes....

  2. This is really interesting. You're using a lot of the same techniques I use in drama classes to provide a structural base for creativity. A lot of my beginning students have the exact problem you describe - they have massive amounts of imagination, but no technique. Improvised scenes drag on and on and on because they have no idea of story-telling arc or how to stop things. Hmm. Maybe we should be exhanging notes about that?

  3. I think this is just so awesome. So many kids have an urge to write but get discouraged by the confines of a classroom setting where they are going to be judged. You are a rockstar for doing this.


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