Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday Writing Workout ~ NEWSPAPER STORY STARTERS ~ !

Howdy, Campers!

Before we get to today's Wednesday Writing Workout, I wanted to share author and bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle's latest post on her Publishers Weekly blog, ShelfTalker.  It moved me.  It's called "The Best Author Letter Ever."

Yes, Virginia, we--authors and teachers--can change a child's life.  Here ~ in case you need to dry your eyes:

And now, on to today's Wednesday Writing Workout!  But first some background:

Last month I was fortunate to participate in the beautifully organized Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi...

April Halprin Wayland, Robyn Hood Black, and Irene Latham
play with food poems for their panel,
“Take Five! Create Fun with The Poetry Friday Anthology"
photo by Beck McDowell

...where I met the wonderful Beck McDowell,

 Author Beck McDowell of the eerily timely novel, This is Not a Drill (Penguin), published just a few weeks before Sandyhook.

Beck gives us today's 


1) Give this exercise about 20 minutes.

2) Divide the class into groups of two or three.

3) Let them choose newspapers and magazines from a stack you've brought in.

4) Their job will be to select a news article and make up their own story using the article as a starting point.  They'll add characters, twists, etc. to create an even more engaging story.

4) Each group elects a spokesperson.  The spokesperson shares a two-to-three minute synopsis of the "story" they've outlined, beginning with what the article actually said so everyone knows their starting point and how the group changed it.

Beck says, "'re demonstrating where ideas come from and how a real event can trigger a story idea that's ultimately totally different from the original."

Thank you, Beck!

 BONUS: while writing this, I came across
"102 Ways to Use Newspapers" in the classroom. 
Monkey combs his favorite paper for story ideas

P.S: My Writing Picture Books for Children class in the UCLA Extension Writers Program (which I've taught since 1999) started this week.  I hope to use the newspaper exercise in class this quarter.  Let me know how it works!  And if you have any suggestions on how to make it more effective, my students will be most grateful--please take a moment to scribble a comment!

Finally, don't forget: there's still time to enter our blogiversary giveaway for a chance to win one of four $25 gift cards to Anderson's Bookshops. See this post for details.

And after you've entered, take five minutes and do a free write.  Remember to breathe...and to write for the fun of it ~
picture of Monkey and drawing of dancer by April Halprin Wayland. 

posted by April Halprin Wayland


Linda B said...

Hi April! Thank you for the inspiring, marvelous story of the 'spectacles'! My daughter, now grown, would have loved that book, too. What a joy to receive such a letter! Thanks also for the newspaper idea. I will share with my colleagues!

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

I love that exercise. Thank you so much for sharing.

Robyn Hood Black said...

It was such an honor to share Hattiesburg with you, April! And hang out again with Beck. She knows her stuff and knows what works with students, for sure.

Thanks for sharing all of this today - I know your newest UCLA students will be in for a wonderful class.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks for the pat on the back re: my class, Robyn. Every new class is exciting and, well, NEW! As if I'm inventing everything all over again!

And Linda, Linda, Linda--it's always wonderful to see you here. Thanks for reading and commenting, both.

Pen N Ink...if you end up trying this exercise, feedback would be fab!