Amy G Coombs

author, reader, teacher

Writing Fun with Young People

I just finished a lovely 3-day writing workshop with fourth, fifth and sixth graders at the Athens Public Library. Three days in a row, rather than a stand-alone workshop or a weekly workshop, was a new format for me, and it’s fast become my favorite. Eight kids arrived every morning eager to begin, and we jumped right in without having to refresh or review.

We started by playing games to get the creative juices flowing. Magic Bag, which David Almond introduced to me (and several hundred others) during one of the SCBWI New York mid-year conferences is always popular. (My teen writers love it.) Some of the kids used what they’d written for the games to start a short story, some used fan fiction and began novels, others came up with their own short story ideas. On the last day, they found cozy spots throughout the library to keep writing. During check-ins, I offered challenges — specific spots and ways they could improve the story. Moments of peak action or emotion that could be enhanced with dialogue or description, slowed down and gone into more deeply. I kept it simple; they got it. Some, so much so, we wished we had a fourth day.

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