“A New Fantastic Point-of-View”: Finding Your Voice and Place

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view

 “A Whole New World” from Aladdin

Throughout the 2019 Young Writers’ Workshop, we’ve had the chance to explore ourselves, our homes, and our own unique worlds.  Today, we broadened our horizons by asking ourselves where we’ve been, where we want to go, and where we can write about.

The question to get us thinking today was “What is your favorite place you’ve ever been to?” Some of my personal favorite answers were Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,but our writers also named places ranging from Australia and New York City to their own farm and homes.

For our first group activity we told a round robin story, each of us contributing a couple of lines. To mix things up, our instructors provided a variety of props that the writers needed to work into the story. Together, our young writers proved they could write for an excellent, genre-bending soap opera, which might entail clones, severed heads (not surprising considering our parody yesterday), a spaceship, secret twins, and the Russian Mafia.

“This could only be the work of the Russian Mafia.”

We welcomed Miranda Asebedo as our visiting writer today. Miranda is the author of young adult novels with a twist of magic. Her debut, The Deepest Roots, came out last year and her second novel, A Constellation of Roses, will be released in November. Born and raised in rural Kansas, Miranda earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Kansas State University.

“Be comfortable writing about what you know.” —Miranda Asebedo

Miranda discussed voice with us, explaining that we can find our voices as writers as well as developing strong voices for our characters. She shared her perspective on how we might influence character voice, providing examples from some young adult texts (which is her favorite kind of book to read). We read passages featuring four distinct narrators, dissecting them to see what their words might reveal about each character.

After our conversation, Miranda gave our writers time to answer questions and develop their own characters, thinking about the characters’ wants, fears, mannerisms, and interests. She then allowed us to choose from three different writing prompts to write a scene: small disaster, meet cute, and long ago scars. The scenarios excited the writers, and we were quiet and absorbed in our writing after a few brainstorming minutes. We finished the fiction writing exercise by sharing some of our work.

I woke up in a field hospital miles away.

Miranda also took the time to answer questions from us. Her knowledge of the publishing process was of great interest to our writers. You’ll surely be looking for their names on book covers in the years to come.

Another exciting development we saw today was our writers using some of their lunch hour to work on their writing. Rather than chatting with friends and checking phones, many wandered off to find a quiet space to work or asked to share their pieces with an instructor.

Pyper works on her writing alongside Instructor Dustin Vann.

We revisited our deliberation on traveling during the afternoon with a writing activity inspired by a collection of postcards. After each writer picked from an assortment of postcards, they began writing the letter that would accompany that postcard. They didn’t need to have visited the featured place, or write as themselves.Instead, they imagined a set of characters and story behind this postcard.

Instructor Mawi Sonna and Paige show their postcards for the writing exercise.

“Dear______________, This is the hardest postcard I’ve ever had to write.”

We again brought out some props to challenge our writers by having them incorporate them into their stories. Many, like Chase (pictured above), seamlessly blended even the most unusual objects—like a selfie stick—into the story of the postcard.

During the final minutes of the day, the writers took time to prep for tomorrow’s reading, running pieces past their peers and instructors and practicing how they’ll read their work before a larger crowd.

Sahana reads her piece “People Watching” at the end of the day.

The final question of the day read: “What’s one place you really want to go?” Answers varied from real places all across the globe, to places we might only find in our imaginations, like Atlantis and Hogwarts.

Today, and this entire week, the writers took us around the world and back home again, like Aladdin on his magic carpet ride, and just like “a shooting star” we’ve “come so far,” and we’ll keep searching for “new horizons to pursue” in our writing and out in the world.

Don’t forget, you can join us tomorrow for our 2:00pm reading at the Beach Museum. You’ll want to see the whole new worlds we’ve created.

—Noelle Braaten, Program Assistant

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