Leading a Writing Group - Session 9

I had two new students, so the total was five for this session. The first thing we covered was the metaphorical concept of morality and colors. White characters are the good heroes. Black characters are the bad villains. And grey characters, well, those get interesting. What if someone does a bad thing for a good reason? Or a good thing for a bad reason? It was an interesting introductory discussion. The famous fantasy writer George R. R. Martin is known for flipping these symbolic colors in a literal interpretation, i.e. he has the good guys wear black and the bad guys wear white, and everyone's really a grey character. After discussing that concept, I gave the prompt for the day - genie.

One of the new students was a bit reluctant and inquired into whether the subject was quite limited. He wanted to know the specific parameters. He was relieved to learn that there aren't any. Just try to make an interesting narrative. That's it. If you can use the prompt, then that's awesome. If it goes weird or crazy, then that's fine. It's important to have that permission in creative writing to release inhibitions. It also helped when I told them that the focus is on creating a story, not punctuation, or spelling, or grammar. Those are separate skills that are used in story creation.

Every story came out unique: one sounded literary, one sounded classic, one was first person, one had an unreliable narrator, and one was a bit surreal.

Writing while also monitoring five kids ranging from 8 to 13 years old is an interesting challenge in focus combined with awareness. Here's what happened when I put pen to paper.

- - - - - - -

"I don't think that's fair." Steve had found the lamp, he had bought it from the thrift store with his own money, and he had cleaned it up. Now, the genie that had emerged from the lamp was telling him that there were rules.

"Fairness," said the genie with a smirk on his face that wasn't quite evil, "fairness doesn't factor into it. There are three rules: no wishes for death, no wishes for love, and no wishes for more wishes. That's it."

"But," said Steve, "those are the only three wishes that I can think of."

The genie snorted and rolled his eyes, "Well, then I guess you're out of luck."

Steve tapped his thumb against his lower lip and stared at the wall, a look of intense contemplation on his face. His eyes suddenly widened and a flash of insight sparked in his emerald green eyes.

"Who makes these rules?" asked Steve.

"I have no idea," said the genie. "It's just what can't be done. Call it cosmic forces if you need to label it."

"Okay," said Steve. "Well... who monitors and enforces these rules?"

"I do." replied the genie.

"Have you ever..." Steve turned up his hands and gave a little shrug, "let things slide a bit?"

"No." said the genie, as his eyes narrowed.

Steve smiled. "Alright," he said, "I have my first wish."

"Great," said the genie in a completely unenthusiastic tone.

"I wish..." began Steve, thinking about it, maybe overthinking it. He knew it was a risk, but it would be worth it if it worked. "...that the genie forgot how to count."

- - - - - - -

There it is. It's also good advice if you ever encounter a genie.


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