SEPTEMBER 18, 2012: We began our first fall writing workshop with introductions and a word game called “Headlines.” Each person wrote the same part of speech on a piece of paper (an adjective), folded the paper to hide the word, then passed the paper to the right for the next person to write the next word (a noun), and so on until a headline is built. We then shared our results, some more nonsensical than others.
We then brainstormed possible solutions for the weekly question posed by “Another Thing,” a contest on NPR. Lenore Skenazy, author of the book and blog Free Range Kids, creates a question every week based on something she saw in the news and asks for a satirical answer. The question was, “What will be the name of a best-selling diet book for dogs?” You can tune in to All Things Considered on Monday, September 24 to see if titles such as Rin Tin Slim, Paleo for Puppies, or Mutt or Mutton are announced.
Workshop members then completed a questionnaire about their writing interests, and I demonstrated mindmapping as a tool to generate details about a topic. Participants could use this technique to help them compose descriptions of what they did over the summer. The descriptions had to include some believable but false events. We took turns reading them to the group and having the audience guess which events were fiction. This turned out to be tricky. Some of the real happenings seemed unbelievable, and some of the fabricated events seemed quite plausible.
After a snack, we launched into independent writing time, and it was evenly split between those working independently and a group beginning a Harry Potter fan fiction collaboration. Participants have an opportunity during independent writing time to continue working on a piece begun during a writing exercise or to develop a piece of their own choosing. We had a brief sharing period at the end.
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