Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whole Novel Workshop for Teens

"Mrs. Mac! Mrs. Mac!"

I was standing in line at the local Dairy Queen when I heard my name. I turned around just in time to receive big hugs from two former students, brother and sister - one now in Jr. High (sister) and the brother who is in High School - where DOES the time go?
Both are talented writers, but Brother has made it known several times over the years that he is interested in writing as a possible career. He has written and illustrated several graphic novels, he seeks out writing education beyond his HS classes, and his current love is psychological thrillers. His question to me: Will you do a writing workshop at the HS?

It's not often that I get a young adult who asks for such a big commitment because of their intense desire to learn, so I told him I needed to think about it. He'd be the first to know if I did.

I wasn't sure I wanted to tackle this. The program I teach in my school district has changed this year. I'm writing extensions and enrichment activities for my 5th and 6th grade math classes as well as for four other teacher's reading and science classes. My plate is fairly full, but I kept finding myself collecting information - websites and such, that would be great to share with the kids. I decided to go ahead and do it.

I'm excited! I've gotten permission to hold the workshop. The English department at the HS is on board and distributing flyers to students. I'm just waiting on a room assignment.

So now, my blogging writer buddies... Here's the gist of the workshop. It will meet 2 times monthly throughout the rest of the school year.

Whole Novel Workshop

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? The Whole Novel Workshop will show you how to harness your ideas into a workable plot, develop your characters, and put those ideas onto the page.

• Open to participants with a strong desire to learn about the process of planning and writing a novel. Participants will:
o write a premise and logline
o develop characters through interview techniques and questionnaires
o develop a plot and complete a novel outline (not what you think!)
o share their work with the group
o learn and develop constructive critique skills and etiquette
o develop and apply self-editing skills
o learn how to format a manuscript for submission
o work towards completion of a 200 page novel (give or take a few pages)

o learn about agent/editor submission process
o How do I write a query?
o Invitation to a meeting of a Cincinnati chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (free)
o Field Trip to a children’s writer’s critique group (SCBWI) (free)
o Come away with a wealth of practical writing resources!

• Consistent Attendance
• Continued monthly progress on novel
• Traveldrive and a 1 inch binder (for resources)
• Good attitude and a sense of humor!!

I would truly appreciate any suggestions or ideas you may have. Something on this list you think I should add? Resources that I should share with the group? Please share!


Anna said...

The workshop sounds great! One thing I was thinking was that you could have each student in the workshop choose a writer they admire and find out as much as they can about that writer's process - they could also choose one (or more) of the writer's books and examine what makes the books "work" and think about how they can apply that to their own writing. I know I've found this approach to be very helpful and wish someone had introduced it to me when I was a teenager. Good luck putting this together!

Nora MacFarlane said...

That's a good idea. They could also read specific examples in their trouble areas - dialog, POV, plot, etc. Thanks!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That is a thorough plan! Will you discuss how to critique? If they're exchanging work for feedback, breaking down "how to" is a good idea.

Nora MacFarlane said...

I've always practiced the 'sandwich' - compliment, constructive criticism, compliment. I'm hoping to model what to listen for, and I plan to take them (two at a time) to my SCBWI critique group. They said they're okay with that as long as I don't fill the room with teenage observers!

I should have sixteen 2-hour sessions, and it's a small group, so I think we should be able to accomplish quite a bit. I'll keep everyone posted through the year.