Today, our young writers finally arrived at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. As they strolled inside to greet our staff, the writers were quiet and unassuming as they decorated their new notebooks and occasionally whispered to new acquaintances. Little over an hour later, they were shouting about Bob Marley as they generated an abundance of world-building characteristics of the new planet — Megan.
The first draft of this blog post was actually written in cursive minion and the style of communist propaganda posters—some popular means of communication on Megan—but fear not, I’ve translated for your reading experience. As Bob Marley would say, “Every little thing is gonna be alright,” especially as we recount the first full day of the 2019 Young Writers’ Workshop.
“If you were to go to another world, what three things would you take there?”
Our mornings usually begin by asking our writers a question. Today we opened ourselves up to the limitless potential of world-building by thinking about what we’d want to bring with us to another world. Many wanted their phones (I wonder if they get better service on Megan??). Some wanted to bring books. Others took a more practical approach—food, clothes, weapons.
Some even wanted to bring friends! One response read, “CD’s, phone, my best friend (to keep me company or eat later on).”
Hopefully we’re not eating any new friends from the Young Writers’ Workshop! Yes, even after only a few hours together, connections began forming between these incredibly creative young people. We may have been quiet to begin the day, but a few games and activities stimulated the writers and amped up their competitive and imaginative spirits.
Abby and Sahana duel off as the final two competitors in a game of Ah-So-Koh.
We also took some time to explore the Beach Museum during the morning. The writers enjoyed getting to appreciate the art while completing a scavenger hunt. Our three newly formed teams—The Aviators, Erb, and Apollo 11—faced off to see who could find the most pieces and match them to the correct items on the list. Instead of walking (or running—which we don’t do in the museum—even when competing!), we all traveled by trash can, one of the few acceptable modes of transportation on the planet Megan.
The Aviators were the first to arrive back at the theater; however, despite a few different answers, each of the teams finished with a complete scavenger hunt list, and all were declared winners. Everyone celebrated with high-fives and Bob Marley toenails, one of the traditional delicacies on Megan.
After the scavenger hunt, our writers compiled lists of the many interesting features on Megan. Megan is a planet known for socks, crocks, and loin clothes, along with a deep appreciation for Bob Marley.
This scene of excitement and energy transitioned into our first individual writing exercise as the writers took their notebooks into the museum to begin a story about someone discovering the planet Megan.
“How do I begin?” many of our young writers wondered when they turned to their first blank page, but after only a minute or two of coaxing from their instructors, the writers were on track and feeling inspired.
Maybe we’ll all get to hear something they wrote today during the reading on Friday! If so, references to planet Megan will likely involve Bob Marley, plastic straws, and the color yellow.
Set the Scene
The afternoon centered around character development, beginning with a group activity to generate a set of eclectic characters and choose our favorites. We took a break from Bob Marley to listen to Ricky Martin while compiling characteristics on each others’ backs to build our character profiles.
Then, we used our favorites when acting out some improv scenes.
At doctor’s office: “I have a bullet wound” … “I have a sinus infection”
“You can’t fake being a doctor.” “Says who?” “Says the law and Bob Marley.”
The improve exercise helped our writers begin drafting their own scene ideas. Several of the writers were anxious to return to their notebooks to write down dialogue and actions. Others wanted to first play out the scene with their partners.
Before the end of the day, our writers took some time to show off their acting chops and present their scenes. Using a single object as a prompt, they created a scene with characters and conflict.
“It’s not just a plant…you killed it!”
The day wrapped up with lots of laughs throughout our performances and ended with one last question: “What advice would you give to a traveler visiting Megan?”
- Be careful when wearing yellow socks. Pickpockets are common.
- Don’t look him (Bob Marley) in the eyes.
- Get out ASAP.
- DO NOT bring Plastic Straws.
- Don’t talk to Bob Marley.
As you might have concluded, the world of Megan seemed to be ruled by the almighty power of…Bob Marley. Our writers may move on from Bob Marley as we transition further into the week, but they can only grow and develop their new world-building skills from today’s workshop as we explore more kinds of writing.
—Noelle Braaten, Program Assistant