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How I Teach Writing

Step 1: Assemble group of teenagers who like to write in a room. Usually here.

Step 2: Do a bunch of horrible ice-breaker/mixing exercises to make them move around and act less tense.

Step 3: Make the class about books that everyone loves. (That should probably have been Step 1. Anyway.)

Step 4: Sneak in little lecture about elements of fiction. Apologize for being sort of English class-y.

Step 5: Dork out about how much you love those books! Talk about them a lot! Mix kids up into different groups to discuss various geeky questions about beloved books. Make lists. Debate stuff. Talk about the movie version. Talk about things that suck.

Step 6: Use the word ‘suck’ a lot. Use the word ‘awesome’ a lot.

Step 7: Do a few writing exercises based on discussion questions ( like “Who is the bigger hero, Harry or Snape?”or “What are you sick of seeing in dystopia stories?” or “How would you solve the Werewolf Nudity Problem in your own story?”)

Repeat Steps 5-7 until the class ends. Hope they go away happy! Hope they feel excited about writing! Even though you haven’t taught them ‘how’ to do it.

Because, shhhh. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think anyone can teach you ‘how’ to write. You can make a student see writing as a worthwhile pursuit. But doing the actual writing? That you have to teach yourself.

7 Comments

  • Tina Laurel Lee on May 15, 2012 Reply

    Oh thanks! I will email…

  • Carrie on May 14, 2012 Reply

    Oh, you’re doing the Novel Writing Bootcamp class – I’m looking in the catalog now. That should be super fun and I’ve had lots of students who would be down for such a class – they’re ready with big manuscripts! I’d be curious to see how that works, but I’ll be out of town that week.

    You’re welcome to attend any of my classes – email me if you want to chat more!

  • Tina Laurel Lee on May 14, 2012 Reply

    Yes, in August. And very excited and a little bit nervous. Mostly excited though.

  • Carrie on May 11, 2012 Reply

    Are you teaching at the Loft this summer, Tina?

  • Tina Laurel Lee on May 11, 2012 Reply

    I am such a fan of your class descriptions and your respect for teens and their interests and their books. I realize I only know of your teaching from your own descriptions of it, but I so want to emulate your respect and passion for it. I am determined to experience your teaching some day. Thanks so much for writing about it!

  • Carrie on May 10, 2012 Reply

    It is very fun. They always crack me up. And make me less certain about the fact that I actually KNOW anything.

  • Ela on May 10, 2012 Reply

    Stealth teaching! I think it’s bound to be highly effective. Sounds like a fun class–hopefully for you as well as for them.

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