A Culmination of Teen Arts: The Writing Part

This post was originally published on my old blog on 5/16/14.

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Every year, my school holds an amazing festival field trip for all students interested in the arts, including creative writing, visual art, theater, instrumental music, vocal music, dance and video. Both last year and this year, I have attended the field trip and I think it is a wonderful experience. At the festival, I have had the opportunity to attend workshops, have my work critiqued by professionals, watch other students’ performances, see other students’ work and talk with other teen artists. I always learn so much and have so much fun. In this post, I’ll describe my writing experience and in the next post, I’ll describe my visual art and music experience.

What I Learned at a Writing Workshop

This year I was able to attend three workshops. My first workshop was a writing one about the use of imagery and how to effectively express the thoughts in your head and transfer them from thought to page. The instructor was really funny and enthusiastic and since the class was small, she could interact with us on a personal basis-names and all. We even had the opportunity to write a story using a prompt that she gave us, read it out loud, and have our writing critiqued.  All of this made the class that much better and helped me learn a lot. Here are just some of the things that I learned.

  • It’s okay to write back story in a piece in order to get to know the characters and their story. However, once you’re done writing the back story, get rid of it. Another option is to revise the back story so that it is an essential part to heightening the conflict in the story.
  • Before you write, sit down and imagine that you are in the same situation as the character you are about to write about. Speak a monologue out loud in the voice of your character, describing his/her/it’s thoughts about the situation. I say “it’s” because the instructor demonstrated several examples of this for us and one of the examples was from the point of view of a chair. When she demonstrated this for us, she was very dramatic and I could see that she was really getting into it. I hope that I will be able to do this, because it seems like it could really help me with my imagery.
  • Write without fear and don’t worry about what others think of your writing. Instead, just write from the heart, because that’s what makes the best writing. Be like an actor, who will cry all out when the director tells him to, because that’s what makes a good movie.
  • When you are writing, don’t completely delete, cross out, or erase words that you don’t want to keep. Instead, just put one line through them. As you are rereading your piece, a crossed out word may spark your imagination and give you a new idea.

My Writing Critique

Every year, the coordinator of the field trip receives many student creative writing submissions, composed of both stories and poems, and she picks twenty of the best submissions. Both this year and last year my writing has been accepted. This means that I have had the opportunity to get my writing critiqued by a professional.
Last year, I submitted a story about a girl who encountered a bear while picking raspberries. I was told that my plot and conflict were strong, as well as my anti-climatic conversation. I was also told that some of my words were too flowery and actually took away from the essence of my story. I admit that at first it was hard to take the critiquer’s advice at first, especially because I had always thought it was the other way around. I had always thought that my plot structure and conflict was weak and it was my writing style that was strong. However, when I went back and read through my story again with fresh eyes, I realized that what the critiquer said was true.
This year, I submitted a story about a speed skater who fell close to the finish line of a race that she was leading. When I wrote the story, I kept in mind the advice that I had received last year and tried to use words that would not distract the reader from the main purpose of the story. Evidently, it worked. The critiquer noted that my action and imagery were effectively executed and that all I had to fix were some minor punctuation issues. I was very happy with my critique because it showed that I really did improve my writing.
Overall, the field trip was just an amazing and nurturing experience for my writing. Stay tuned for the next part of this post, in which I will discuss the visual art and music aspect of the trip.
Have you ever had your writing critiqued? What was your experience like and what did you learn? As always, I’m interested in your comments and I comment back.
Wow! That is super awesome advice! I’ve never been to a live conference, but I was really lucky to do some online ones. Gah, getting REAL critiques for the first time is pretty sucky. And it’s funny, but I had the same experience with what I thought were my “strong” points were actually my weakness and then vice versa for my weakness. Hard to swallow at first. 😉 But that’s so awesome how you’re writing improved so much!
-Ana 5/17/14 11:25am
It was a really great workshop and I learned a lot. I would love to attend an online conference or even a live conference, because even though this field trip had a little bit of the conference feel, it wasn’t exactly one.

Samantha @ YWC 5/17/14 10:22am
I’ve never had my work critiqued but I’m working on a piece now that, well, maybe. The trip sounds so fun!

-Ana 5/17/14 11:27am
You should definitely get your writing critiqued. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from it.
Adele Kong 6/11/14 6:06pm
I really wanted to get my writing critiqued, but Mrs. Presuto deleted my poem. 😦
Adele Kong 6/11/14 6:07pm
And I also love the TAF. Although I didn’t attend any writing-related workshops, I think it was creative how they made a giant board in the middle of the campus so people could share their artwork and writing pieces RIGHT THEN AND THERE! That was pretty cool. 😀

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