Leading a Writing Group - Session 13

We had a student-led day.


I wanted to see what ideas had stuck out in the kids' minds. They threw out a few good ones that we discussed: foreshadowing, frame stories, black/white/grey characters, and dialogue. I helped them to remember in media res, personification, tense, and point-of-view. Then they asked about the details of some of the points of view and we went over first person, second person, third person objective, third person omniscient, and third person close.

That felt like enough review for one day. I asked what they might want to be the prompt and we ended up with three suggestions: Christmas, adventure, and apocalypse. So, the prompt ended up being a Christmas adventure apocalypse.

Our youngest member wrote a story about the daughter of an evil mastermind who wanted to work with him in the lab. Initially he rejected her, but then they reconciled. So the happy ending of the father/daughter reconciliation was just the start of destroying a world, which is a neat idea.

Our next youngest member had his narrator introduce himself and talk in a matter of fact way about how the zombie outbreak occurred at the same time that a meteor struck earth. It was a good intro.

Our oldest member had young kids in a discussion with a babysitter which was leading into a scary frame story about Christmas. The dialogue was nicely done.

I took the idea of tinsel cutting metal from the Tim Allen movie "The Santa Claus", the image of a woman in the corner of a jail cell popped into my head, and I went from there.

- - - - - - -

Elenor the elf sat in the corner of her jail cell thinking. Thinking that maybe she had made a mistake. Thinking that maybe there was no hope. Thinking that she had to try anyway.

She stared at the few pieces of tinsel in her hand. She would have one chance at making her escape, and this was it. If she was caught then they would know that a guard had snuck the tinsel in to her, and that wouldn't work twice.

The easiest part to cut out of the jail cell bars would be the lock. She pressed the tinsel into the bar and it started to cut. It was this kind of advanced technology that caused the collapse of civilization both in the North Pole, and the rest of the world.

At first a few elves were unhappy that their jobs had become outdated. No one wanted the old toys their families had specialized in for generations. They wanted Santa to go public, to break the silence and let the world in on the secret of the North Pole. That hidden under the ice lay the ancient lost city of Atlantis. But King Klaus wouldn't do it.

Elenor's tinsel broke through the old iron bar. She stopped and stood perfectly still, waiting to see if she could hear anyone coming down the hall. Nothing. She took out her second piece of tinsel and started on the next section of the bar.

The first attack might have been one person. The slinky factory had exploded. The cleanup had taken four days, there were slinkys all over the city. The investigation had only taken another two days. The conclusion: sabotage.

It threw everyone into a panic. The Council proposed strict security procedures. There was a curfew, it seemed like you couldn't go anywhere without being searched, and it was horrible. Maybe that's why there were more attacks.

Eventually the disturbances couldn't be concealed from the rest of the world.

- - - - - - -

The back and forth between the present and the backstory could be smoothed out, but I like the idea. Why is the North Pole magical? Because it's actually the advanced secret technology of Atlantis, and Santa is the king. The world is alarmed by the growing attacks that Atlantis can't conceal, so the world learns of the secret.

Problems occur between the North Pole and the rest of the world and a war erupts. Atlantis wins, but the world is left in an apocalyptic state. Christmas, adventure, apocalypse, with a cool new take on both the North Pole and Atlantis. Genius.

On a different note, I couldn't remember how tinsel was spelled. I decided to go with tinsle while I was writing, but I kept switching back and forth. I resisted the urge to look it up while I was writing because I've emphasized to the kids that we aren't focusing on spelling here, we are working on constructing stories. Spelling is important, but they work on that at a different time. And, from a few observations I've made during their writing, I think that has helped them to keep moving forward during our sessions.

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Read more of Jeff's thoughts at: http://www.jeffreyalexandermartin.com/

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