Thursday, October 17, 2013

Writing Workshops

Periodically, in between endlessly churning out SEO articles and working on novels, I do writing workshops at area schools. Here are some pics from the latest one at a middle school in Springdale.
So before I get into the weird stuff, let me share the gist of what I do at the workshops. First, I introduce myself and talk about how I decided to become a writer when I was 13. I talk about my books a little bit, encourage them to see reading and writing as more than just "school work." Then I discuss some of the elements of good storytelling, including 1) what makes a good protagonist, 2) creating conflict, 3) making the setting feel real, 4) writing a compelling opening, i.e. the hook.
Along the way, I let the students share their own ideas, and together we craft an idea for a novel. Some of the ideas from the last workshop: a dwarf painter who is being stalked by an obsessed fan who is stealing his paintings, an adventurer who stumbles upon the lair of a mad scientist in the jungle who wants to extract his DNA for his monster-making experiments, a lonely hunter who must track down bandits in a rainforest to avenge his family.
Occasionally, I meet actual future writers who want to ask questions and get advice. But at the last workshop, things got downright unusual. Somewhere along the way, I guess the kids got the idea that I was a bona fide celebrity rather than a mere local author, so they began asking for my autograph. But all they had were pencils and notebook paper, so I stood there for fifteen minutes signing tattered pieces of notebook paper with a mechanical pencil. Some kids even sneaked back in line to get multiple autographs or asked me to sign their notebook covers more than once.

I hope the kids don't think those autographs are actually worth anything. Oh well. Nevertheless, I enjoy doing the workshops, even though my voice is shot by the end of the day. I've got another one coming up next week and then a few more potentially lined up next semester.

In the meantime, when I'm not writing endless SEO articles about cosmetic dentistry, criminal defense attorneys, toenail fungus and country clubs, I am trying to finish the editing of Children of the Mechanism. And that is what I shall go do now.

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