The young man in today's picture is named Anderson -- and he was in my workshop today at the MASC Young Authors Conference in Ottawa. See those beautiful front teeth? There's a story behind them! When we were discussing how it's important to have trouble in our stories, Anderson shared a real-life story with us. When he was out skiing, the T-bar hit Anderson in the mouth and his two front teeth got knocked out. YIKES! Luckily, the dentail surgeon was able to save both teeth -- and now Anderson sure has a story to tell! I asked whether when he was holding his teeth in his hand there was blood -- Anderson said no. That's when I gave him a good tip for fiction writing: LIE! We all agreed that readers would enjoy as gorey a description as possible -- and I even suggested he could add a few drops of blood to the snow.
It turned out that several students in my morning workshop had tooth stories of their own. A couple thought it was a sign that I should use teeth trouble in one of my new book projects.
Another interesting thing we discussed: how our shoelaces reveal something about us. That was because my shadow (meaning my personal assistant) this morning, a student named Jessica, was wearing sneakers -- and the laces on one of them were untied. We did a count, and about half of the kids in the workshop, double-tie their laces. We decided that double-tiers are probably more careful people, that they worry about tripping -- and that non-tiers like Jessica are freer spirits. This, I thought was a great moment to teach students the writing rule SHOW; DON'T TELL. Rather than saying a character is careful, consider having him or her take an action such as double-tying his or her shoelaces!
In the afternoon workshop, I asked students to come up with interesting observations about our room. Alex observed "one empty chair" -- and I thought that would make a great title for a book. One Empty Chair -- haunting, don't you agree? A student named Moira gave me permission to quote from a beautiful piece she wrote about her memory of being forced to take a nap at daycare. Here comes the quote -- get ready for some super writing! "I didn't want to admit that I slept well. I tried to think of what I had dreamed about, but the memory had already slipped away. This confused me. I thought someone had stolen my dream." I LOVE LOVE LOVE the bit about the stolen dream.
So, you can probably tell that I've been enjoying myself at the MASC Young Authors Conference. To the students I've been working with -- thanks for the inspiration -- and for your hard work!!
Dear Monique you have been my favorite author sines I was 8 years old I had sooooo much fun at the writers comfrence
The girl with the cool head band
Wow! I attended that workshop and it was the most fun I've had in a while! I am so happy I decided to go and am looking forward for next year!
Thank you so much,
Hey Alyson, Brynn, Payton, Jessica, Hari, Thanks for posting those comments. I just got home to Montreal and you made my day!
Dear Monique, I had soooooooooo much fun at MASC! You totally inspired me! I've read and finished Hate Mail and I love it.I've started a book and wrote 7 pages already. Thank you.
Hi! I found the paper that we wrote at the workshop and I started to browse around and found this page! You inspired me so much that I have written almost 3 books so far! At first I did not want to go to MA SC but now I want to go there every year because of you. Thank you so much,for everything.