with Angela Harris
Mosaic Texas - Creative Writing Class
We thought everyone might like to know what we've been up to in Texas this fall! We have a great group of writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). Mosaic New Jersey students will remember their novel writing adventures from 2011 -- please join me in cheering on the Texas students as they face this amazing challenge all November-long!
We kicked off our first class on September 9th by defining what makes a novel and filled out our "What Makes a Novel a Novel" worksheet in preparation for our in-class "book talks." We discussed the meaning of conflict within the context of a novel, perspective, and point of view (first person vs. third person).
We discussed what a workshop partner is and how to provide constructive critique. Remember the "feedback sandwich"? (Compliment/Suggestion for Improvement/Compliment) and we started working on our characters for our novel.
At our second class, we wrapped up our discussion of what makes a character interesting and what clues authors use to let us know which characters are the protagonist, antagonist, and supporting character(s). We want to remember these "tricks" authors use to portray them and keep them in mind as we write our own novels.
We wrapped up our day by describing the first three elements of plot: set-up, inciting incident and rising action. We discussed that a good plot is a lot like a good roller coaster and read through a sample story that gave us good examples of these first three elements.
I've really enjoyed getting to know all the children. On our first day together, I had them write down their answers to the question, "What does it mean to be creative?" We shared some of our answers, among which were some great insights such as, "...to be creative is to have a great imagination and energy released in any form of art." and, "...being creative means thinking outside the box, or something out of the ordinary."
By October, we started to get to know one another a little better and are now feeling more comfortable sharing our writing and creative processes.
We finished discussing our "plot outlines" and then moved on to "Setting and Mood" which proved a little tricky in the end, but also prompted a lot of great discussion and examples of moods that we might convey through our novels. The difficulty comes in communicating these moods through a description of a setting.
By our last October class I could really sense the excitement and confidence building!
We practiced using setting to re-inforce characters. Everyone selected a character or characters to describe using setting details, and I think did a wonderful job overall! We talked about things we did right and things we could have done a little differently to make our writing more effective.
We then moved on to define dialogue and talked about what makes dialogue interesting vs. boring. The kids stretched their acting muscles and enjoyed reading a few scenes which demonstrated the three functions of dialogue.
Lastly, everyone set their word count goals, signed their writing contracts, and we filled out our in-class poster which will keep track of our progress in November.
Monday, November 4