"This is a book about writing fiction. But it should help you
write anything: e-mails, essays, greeting cards, love letters,
I am in a writing class that meets seven weeks twice a year.
Each member, in turn, reads her/his pieces to the rest of us who
critique. Barbara, our teacher, facilitates. Not all of us aspire to
have published books. Some pursue equally valid objectives such as
perserving family narrative for younger generations. All of us,
however, know the power and beauty of words.
When Gail Carson Levine (quoted above) became a full time writer
she felt, "like the luckiest person on the planet." Her great good
fortune motivated her to volunteer teach creative writing to
youngsters. Over those years of mentoring she has gained insight into
her own writing and inner life. Her Writing Magic: Creating Stories
That Fly is a logical extension: her way of sharing her life learned
wisdom with as many kids as possible. It world beautifully on at
least three levels:
1) It gives a lot of very worthwhile instruction on topics like coming
up with ideas, creating interesting details, and developing a voice
for narratives. There are plenty of exercises to make these
techniques one's own.
2) There is also emphasis on the psyche--on developing the self
confidence, willingness to take chances, and persistence a writer
needs. One chapter is devoted to shutting down the chatter (that
sucks, you're no good) that spins in an endless loop in many people's
3) There is a generous sharing of her own life experiences that can
help starring writers look at their own from a different perspective.
In short, this is a wonderful book for fledgling young and not
so young writers.
On a personal note, the best workshop (in my mind) was the one on
using theater to create change. The Out And Allied Youth Theater did
two skits. Then we divided into small groups to do improv. I was
with two high school students. We did a skit about a student having
to go to the principal about bullying because the teacher won't do
anything. I was the burned out one-year-from-retirement prejudiced
teacher who also spoke in asides to God. It was so easy to make up a
part and not have to worry about blocking, messing up lines etc. And
people were really touched by the skits. YOWZA!
A great big shout out goes out to the Out And Allied Youth Theater. I
really think they're onto something.
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