Yesterday, I did the last of three creative writing workshops at Hebrew Academy here in Montreal.
I've been working with a group of six lively and bright 11-year-old girls. Because I wantedthe girls to produce some writing (and not just talk about writing!!), we came up with the idea of doing a group story. Each girl agreed to contribute two chapters. To be honest, I wasn't convinced it would work since the project's success depended on many factors: that everyone would do their part, and that each girl would be able to keep track of what was going on in the other chapters. But I have to say I was delighted when I started reading the newest chapters. There are really funny parts that had me laughing out loud.
Best of all, the girls seem to have learned a lot about the use of voice in fiction. Each chapter is written in the first person and we tried to include a variety of voices: a snobby girl, a "brainiac," a shy girl, a tomboy.... you get the idea -- we created a mini-world.
At the last minute, we decided to change the verb tense in all the chapters. We moved from past to present. Eliana, who's a very take-charge kind of person and has agreed to compile all the corrected chapters and send them to me for one last revision, liked the change to present tense. She thought it made the story livelier and more real-sounding. Another workshop participant, Jordana, said, "I learned it was important to work together."
You know, the work these students did -- coming up with an idea, writing and re-writing, working together and with me -- it's very much what happens in the world of professional writing. So, my two Elianas, Jordana, Emily, Jenna and Kaylee, I want to say three cheers for you! Thanks for livening up my last three weeks -- and for producing such wonderful work!