Write Club Roundup: A Look Back at A Year of Wondrous Wordsmithing 

By Audrey Quinn

Wordcrafters hosts many programs tailored specifically for teens and youth interested in writing. One of those programs is Write Club for Youth, a monthly workshop that features a different instructor and different writing topic at each meeting.

Here’s what happened during the 2022-2023 school year.

World Building by Leah Velez

Wordcrafters’ own Leah Velez helped kids explore how to create believable worlds within stories at the September 2022 Write Club. 

Drawing on their own experiences with improv and role-playing, Leah and students created their own unique fictional worlds together! They discussed how worlds get to be the way that they are, and how cultures develop and shift over time, and what factors influence the dynamic nature of these things. 

“The students were up and running around and acting out their scenes, and it was a great deal of fun,” Leah says. 

Students split into two groups, and each used different methods to craft their own fictional world. One group utilized improv techniques, and the other crafted their world through a process of writing and adding onto each person’s idea.

Additionally, students used their worlds to address concerns they faced in their everyday lives, such as climate change and the pandemic lockdowns. 

“One of the worlds, if I remember correctly, was entirely composed of trash, and the trash world was coming back to get revenge on earth,” Leah recalled. In this world, humans try to colonize Neptune, and discover resources which could help save the human race, but their mining of these resources creates new environmental problems. 

The other world incorporated a lockdown into its story: “The other universe had a lockdown in it. ‘The Inside Years’ is what they called the historical period…animals, especially the mythical ones, become so dangerous that everyone has to stay inside…it was sad and boring, and there was a lack of food. That group was also thinking about over population, and over consumption of resources,” Leah says.

Beginnings and Endings by Sarina Dorie

In October’s Write Club, sci fi and fantasy author Sarina Dorie discussed examples from stories with intriguing beginnings and authentic endings to help kids get an idea of the elements involved in writing satisfying beginnings and conclusions. 

Young writers participated in several writing exercises to demonstrate what they learned about how to “hook” readers at the start of their story to get them to want to keep reading, as well as how to wrap up stories in ways that don’t feel rushed or forced and leave readers feeling satisfied.

Roll Dice, Build a Monster by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Author Nina Kiriki Hoffman and participating youth and teens played a game similar to the popular writing game Story Cubes iIn a delightful November 2022 Write Club.

They rolled dice to collect the “ingredients” needed to build a character, and then used those ingredients to write their character into existence. Participants could make a monster, dragon, witch, wizard, or alien. 

They then crafted luscious scenes to demonstrate their characters’ personalities and traits, and collaborated with others to start stories!

How to Ride on Dragons: Chasing the Wild Imagination by J.C. Geiger

In December 2022 Write Club, the boisterous and larger-than-life fiction author J.C. Geiger helped students bring out the best of their wild imaginations. 

They practiced techniques for encouraging their minds to run wild so that they could use their imagination in writing stories, poems, or prose, in a process poets refer to as “riding on dragons.”

Flash Fiction by Drea Lee

In the first Write Club of 2023, Wordcrafters’ own Drea Lee helped youth practice writing really short stories, known as flash fiction. 

Together, she and participating kids learned how to dive directly into action, be selective in their word choices, and maintain writing habits even with a limited amount of time in their schedules.

Zine Maps and Placemaking by Jen Hernandez

Illustration artist and educator Jen Hernandez encouraged youth to think about the “meaningful places” in their lives, whether past, present, or future in this beautiful February 2023 Write Club.

 They used both written and visual prompts to generate ideas for their own artistic zines centered around the theme of placemaking. 

At the end of this Write Club, students took home their own zine which doubled as a map of significant places to them, so that they could always find their way back. 

Memoir by Dante Zuniga West

In this March 2023 Write Club, author and storyteller Dante Zuniga West taught participants about the art of memoir writing. 

Through a series of exercises and personal reflections, kids and teens learned how to find the most “stand-out” moments in their stories, identify the key people in their lives (past and present) who influenced who they are today, and pull all of these details together into a single cohesive story.

Exploring Poetry by Erica Goss

Award-winning poet Erica Goss shared how poetry relates to other art forms, such as rap music, movies, and comics in the April 2023 Write Club

. Participating kids and teens studied poems from both modern and ancient sources, and then drew on their own experiences to create some poems of their own!

Rainbows, Unicorns, and Guts on the Page-LGBTQIA+ Storytelling by Melissa Hart

In the May 2023 Write Club, local author and LGBTQIA+ ally Melissa Hart encouraged kids and teens interested in crafting authentic LGBTQIA+ characters and stories to create those stories. 

She helped participants turn their thoughts, ideas, and experiences into writing, whether it was fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

Poetic Temperaments-Story, Music, Structure, Imagination by Anna Ball

In the past Write Club of the school year, poet and educator Anna Ball helped youth identify their own “poetic temperaments,” and craft writing exercises that worked with their temperament in June 2023. 

In the workshop, kids and teens were encouraged to identify if their poetic temperament was most similar to that of a storyteller, a musician, an architect, or an artist, all of whom use words to build scenes in different ways and with different focuses and literary devices. 

By the end of this workshop, youth left with their own written poems, as well as a “collaborative” poem that they helped write with their peers. Both youth and teens did different “collaborative” poems focused on what they wished for. The youth collaborative poem focused on colors, while the teen collaborative poem focused on numbers.

Write Club for Youth happens each month throughout the school year (and Write Club for Grown Ups will start December 2023). So if you, or a word-nerd youth or teen in your life, is interested in any of the activities from Write Clubs in the past, we’d love to have you join us.