Since the Young Writers’ Summer Studio was only a week long, we had only a day to let our Fiction stories sit and simmer, marinating in their juices.
The final day of our Studio was light and fun to counter the unsettling feeling of sharing our work publicly. Revision is an art, something organic that swells or slumps, depending how often it is practiced. And for most of these students, the sharing circle, or “workshopping” a piece of writing was a new experience.
Before the reading began, I made it perfectly clear that everyone was to listen and look at the author reading (no whispering, writing in their notebooks, or interrupting.) Also, we were each responsible as readers and writers to participate in the discussion of the piece. If we had a comment it should be expressed in a full statement, “That part was cool, because…” or “I didn’t understand WHY the character did…”
Once the rules were explained, the stories began. Our circle transformed into a thriving scene of dragons, haunted houses, hidden treasures, trap doors and fairies on a quest. The details were concrete, the characters developed through the conflicts and most conclusions wrapped up all loose ends.
Constructive Criticism was shared. The topic of writing from the point of view of the opposite sex came up. Immediately, this young writer was ready to change her boy character to a girl, but I told her, she was in control of her story. If she had doubts about what a boy would say or do in a situation, just ask a boy! So, the guys in our circle gave their suggestions.
Another story’s description of packed clothes was delightful and intricate, but did not move the story along. This section could be removed. When asked why parents would leave their child home to go on a business trip the night they moved into a new house, the young writer defended his decision with long explanations. I stopped him and explained to all, if you, the author needs to verbally explain the reason for an occurrence in your story, then you need to work on making that section more clear. Your writing should stand on its own.
After we made our comments, I then asked each author what they liked and disliked about their own pieces. This is important, because some details we’re not crazy about may help in adding depth to the story for the reader.
Unfortunately, time did not allow us to hear everyone’s stories in the circle, so we paired off for one-on-one critiques. I learned to allow much more time for this exercise in the future.
One reading and one draft is by far an unfinished piece of work, but for these young writers, it is a confident step on the path of an author.
Check out the Events Page on WriteLikeCRAZY for more pics and upcoming classes I’m offering!