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An update from our tenth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop led by contributors Liam Hancock, 13, and Madeline Kline, 13, held on Saturday June 19, plus some of the output published below

For this week's workshop, we had two special guests. Madeline Kline, 13, who is a part of William's workshop, and our very own Liam Hancock, also 13, led the workshop on the topic of dystopian stories. The two young writers delved into a thorough definition of Dystopian Fiction, plus several recent popular examples of the genre. Many people reading contemporary fiction are likely familiar with this genre, as high-profile series like The Hunger Games and Divergent are bestselling examples. Maddie and Liam went through several examples, and challenged the writers present at this workshop to create their own story in the same vein.

The Challenge: Either create a dystopian world or change an existing story to incorporate some of the dystopian elements discussed.

The Participants: Madeline, Simran, Sophie, Svitra, Emma, Aditi, Olivia, Sinan, Harine, Sena, Emi, Noa, Josh, Isolde, Sasha, Samantha, Audrey


Svitra Rajkumar, 13,
(Fremont, CA)

Past Memories

Svitra Rajkumar, 13

Rose was running. Although she didn’t know what she was running from and where she was going, she just couldn’t stop running. Her heart pounded like it was going to burst out of her chest. She bent down gasping for breath and trying to make sense of her surroundings. Her brain was working slower than usual and her head felt dizzy from all the continuous running. She stared up at the bright blue sky. It was an unreal blue, like the color of the ocean except burnt. The ground beneath her began to crack and split apart, and soon she was falling.

Rose felt as if she had been falling for hours but the scream couldn’t make it out of her mouth. It was stuck halfway up her throat. If you thought about it, falling was actually very peaceful before you reached the ground.

How did she even get here in the first place? She couldn't remember.

Where was here? Add that to the extremely long list of things she didn’t know yet. Rose peered at the vivid orange clouds in front of her. The sun was starting to set and she still hadn’t seen any sign of a surface. She was tired of falling, looking at the same scenery. Though it was exotically beautiful it had also become quite boring.

She missed the company of her friends and family. Rose wanted to leave this alternate world that she was stuck in. She closed her eyes and the brilliant hued clouds faded from her vision.

It was dark. Rose couldn’t see anything. At one point she wondered if her eyes were even open.

Was this a dream?

Her memories flooded back to her, but they didn’t feel like her own. She felt around with her hands and touched a switch sort of thing. Rose flicked it upward but nothing happened. She waited for a few minutes but the room remained dark. Suddenly, the room filled with a warm glow, and she cringed away from the abrupt brightness.

She was in a completely different area. Maybe even a different dimension...

Was this a dream of some sort? Rose began to take in her new surroundings. She peered upward at the tall ceiling and the many sparkling chandeliers that dangled from it.


Aditi Nair, 13, (Midlothian, VA)

The Gift

Aditi Nair, 13

A clattering drip-drop of rain frightened even the slightest bit of light. The wind whispered through the crowd, enveloping each individual in fear.

They stood, open-eyed, awaiting the announcement–the moment of destiny. Avery was among the citizens. She spotted others brushing off the slightest bit of dust from their clothes, or as some called it, rags. When people from High Lethamade an appearance, they always had to look their best. The town square was usually a lively place with smiles and laughter, but it seemed as if even the weather wasn’t cooperating.

“You are all gathered here for one reason, to make Letha a better place, a better home,” the tallest man on the podium elucidated. His eyes hid behind chestnut locks of hair, and everyone could sense the annoyance and lack of energy just from his voice.

All knew the lies that he told. Letha was not complete; it was broken and empty. Split between the rich, poor, and the in-between. High Letha would have been a nice place to live if the denizens kept to themselves with humility. Avery rolled her pale blue eyes. It did not matter if the man who spoke forgot his line or if he messed up a little, but if she made the slightest wrong gesture, that would be her death wish. The Board could not stand differences, and no one went against their word. No one.

“... living amongst the shadows of both the Rights and the Lefts, you should know where you stand. Thank you all, and I will now let my friend from The Board speak,” he concluded. His speech catalyzed a wildfire of murmurs. Avery nervously scanned the people around her. Everyone was talking about her sister, Aura.

Aura was a Left. A rebel. The Board gave her the gift of dance, but her heart was in music. Anyone who went against or ignored their gift was deemed a criminal. Aura was a sweet and loving girl, but no one liked a Left.“

Hello, everyone. Glad you made it to this place. Avery Zecker, please come up to the podium for your gift,“ the member from The Board announced. The whispers halted; it was as if the world paused right before her eyes. Desperately grabbing onto the only sliver of hope, she prayed to receive the gift of Knowledge.

“We, The Board, present to you a gift; the gift of prophecy.”

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