Lucky me, I got to speak to three different groups of writers during the Denver Writing Project‘s Summer Institute in June. Like I told the DWP directors, I owe a lot to their organization. It is such a pleasure to give back to the group that kicked off my own writing and rewired the way I teach writing to students.
For my two Young Writers’ Camp presentations, I chose the topic of setting. As I continue to play around with different ideas, I keep coming back to all of the things a well-written setting can do for a piece of fiction. We talked about world building and thought about different examples of settings that made the story infinitely better, for example Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.
When I spoke with the teachers attending DWP to improve writing instruction in their classrooms, I worked to make a case for teaching genre fiction. Many writing teachers in my acquaintance give a lot of writing time to memoir, ‘slice of life’ writing, and personal narrative. But most of the students I know don’t read these types of books. Genre fiction can give writers and readers a safe space to explore the same challenging issues they might be working with in personal narrative without the invasiveness of memoir or the immediacy of realistic fiction.
By the way, the Denver Writing Project is connected to the National Writing Project. If you’re a teacher (K-12 or university level) you may have a site near you.