Middle School Writing Group

It’s only been forever since I’ve touched this blog and the guilt nearly drove me crazy. Well, not really. There was some guilt, but not THAT much.

It isn’t as though nothing has been happening on the writing front, in fact quite the contrary. I’ve been plenty busy making decisions regarding my manuscripts, decisions that make me very happy. But this particular post isn’t about my manuscripts. This blog post is about the writer’s group I’m advising at my school.

To be honest, I’ve been floundering a bit on how to get this thing rolling. I mean, those kids have such a passion for writing, and some of them actually have skill to go with it. However, getting them to connect the two have been quite a challenge. I’ve gone with a formulaic template for the meetings, snack and chat for the first ten minutes, then it’s time for brain-clearing free writing (which they STILL don’t understand), then a topic, some writing time, then sharing.

Dull, I know, but it was working. Kind of, anyway.

Then I hit upon something that REALLY worked. None of them have finished a damn story since we started. They all believe they have to fit in every single detail their busy brains think, so of course they never finish. There’s always something their characters can do, and keep doing forever.

Deciding I’d had enough of the “it’s not done, but I’ll share what I have” scenario, I decided to take control. “Let’s write something together. As a group.” So, as a group, we came up with a character, a setting, a problem, a solution, and a history of said character.

I said the history was important, but did not need to be included in the story. They were puzzled. “Allude to it,” I said. “Allow the history to help write the character’s actions and reactions.” Then I showed them what I meant. “She’s a badass, right? What would a badass do in this situation? You know her history, so you know why she’s doing what she’s doing. Your reader may not care, as long as it’s written well and they can understand what’s happening.”

They looked at me as though I’d lost my mind, but they decided to trust me, so we went forward. Toward the end of the meeting, we had a very good outline for a short story, one that goes in a direction none of them thought they’d want to write (they all tend to be very dark and angsty at this point and write the same way. Our story is not like that, despite  the badassery of the MC).

I’m looking forward to finishing our tale, and Im looking forward to doing more with this group. With their permission, I’ll share our combined efforts here with you.


About Ms. Karen

This is what happens when you live with a writer: there are pens everywhere, except by the phone; notebooks...so many notebooks with strange scribblings that make no sense but must never be thrown away; and long rambling monologues about what certain characters would, or would not do in a given situation. It's almost as difficult as living with an artist. Man, THOSE people are bizarre...
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One Response to Middle School Writing Group

  1. Selma says:

    This is so inspiring, Karen. You are obviously a natural teacher. I can’t wait to see how it all develops!


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