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An update from our twenty-eighth Writing Workshop!

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday November 14, plus some of the output published below

This week we focused on word choice as a way for writers to be sure they have conveyed their meaning as they meant to, and so that their readers will understand it. We looked at different approaches to considering choice of words, from expanding on idea by showing, rather than telling; to finding alternative words using synonyms and antonyms (with a warning about the possible pitfalls of the Thesaurus!); and a reminder about editing and re-writing ("Murder your darlings"). We briefly compared the first draft to the final version of Wilfred Owen's poem Anthem for Doomed Youth and discussed how we felt about the various changes he had made–some of them ruthless–and how they strengthened the work. Then, we talked about 6-word stories, and how the work of cutting down one's work can focus the reader (and the writer) on the key elements of your story.

The Writing Challenge: Write a short story in 5 minutes; then spend the rest of the time analysing and cutting it down to the essentials, to make a 6-word story.

The Participants: Charlotte, Lena, Georgia, Lena, Sadie, Angela, Anna, Anya, Ava, Charlotte, Elbert, Emma, Enni, Helen, Janani, Jonathan, Juniper, Keyang, Liam, Lina, Lucy, Ma'ayan, Madeline, Margaret, Olivia, Peri, Rithesh, Samantha, Nova, Teagan, Tilly, Ever.


Anya Geist, 14
Worcester, MA

Ruins Crumble

Anya Geist, 14

Original
The wind softly blew, just a puff of breath. But it was a breath, it was alive, unlike the ruins over which it looked. The walls were crumbled and decayed, nearly churned to dust on the ground; the largest structure remaining was an archway where a door once stood. The trees all around the ruins were slumped and hunched, their long delicate fingers bent toward the ground in a perpetual state of mourning. Because in all honesty, this was a funeral. A funeral that had been going on for decades, as the coffin—the house—was slowly lowered into the ground; and the wind was its family, leaving it one last kiss as it departed from the world of the living.

Six word version
Ruins crumble in a gentle wind.


Peri Gordon, 11
Sherman Oaks, CA

The Near-Doom Incident

Peri Gordon, 11

Original
We were hiking. I didn’t want to stroll. I stretched my legs and launched ahead of my parents, feet flying freely over the sandy trail. The foliage glittered around me like green and brown angels, but I paid no notice. I arrived at a place where a family was, positioned as if struggling to see something, but all I saw was rough, brown ground. They called for me to stop.

My parents caught up. “Peri, they were taking a picture!” But no, they were not.

The family pointed at a small, slithering thing snaking its way up the path.

A rattlesnake.

We showed our gratitude to the family that had saved me from doom, and we were on our way.

No more running.

Six word version
Dashing ahead. Snake. Could’ve been doomed.


Liam Hancock, 13
Danville, CA

Demons

Liam Hancock, 13

Original
Quaking fingers trace the deepest curves of the cup. A glass half full to me, half empty to her. Memories play out in her mind—memories of a battlefield where shells litter the ground alongside fighters. Fighter. She’s a fighter with no weapon. Enemy. She’s an enemy whose hands are clean of sin. Haunted. She is haunted, but those of us who have seen the worst are those of us whose lips are sealed the tightest.

Six word version
Today’s demons will haunt us tomorrow.


Lina Kim, 10
Weston, FL

Too ManyOriginal

Lina Kim, 10

Original
A wolf. Two wolves, three wolves. Emerging from the pack. I stand before them. Too many. I am alone; they are too many to count. Will no one come to my aid?

The alpha growls. I flinch. What to do? There are too many.

Too many to befriend them all, to bend them towards trusting me.

Too many to fight.

Too many to ignore.

Oh, how I wish they could be ignored.

I do not wish to be torn apart. I would not wish that upon my worst enemy.

Actually, I did once wish that upon my worst enemy.

Too many.

I cannot run for my life.

I cannot fight back.

I cannot do anything but stand, stand, stand, waiting to be rescued or torn apart.

A rustle.

Two, three, four rustles.

Several more rustles of the leaves.

Is someone coming to save me?

More rustles.

My pack rushes towards me. To fight against the others.

I join them in the fight.

I am the Zeta1.

I am the general.

I will help my family fight.

Tonight,

We will win.

1the Zeta is the lead warrior in a wolf pack.

Six word version
I lead my pack into battle.


Elbert Park, 8
Palo Alta, CA

Untitled

Elbert Park, 8

Original
The rain was pouring. I had no protection. I had maximum adrenaline. I had to run, but I had nowhere to go soon. The coast was nearing, and that meant that either I was trapped and came out dead, or I was trapped and came out alive. I made a berserk run to the coast and soon washed up against it. . . I took for cover in a nearby house. It only took seconds, but for me it felt like an eternity. . .

Six word version
Rain pours No mercy I’m trapped


Lucy Rados, 13
Buffalo, NY

Untitled

Lucy Rados, 13

Original
Lola stared wistfully outside the green glass window, waiting for her father, secretly knowing that he wouldn’t show up. It was like this every day, her absent father, her mother lying in bed of a sickness that never seemed to fade. Lola just wanted a normal happy, family. Instead she was stuck in this cycle of being the odd girl, the one left out of the rest of the group. When would this ever end? Would her father come back? Would her mother get better?

Wistfully staring out the window, Lola wondered whether her father would ever come home, whether her mother would ever recover from her sickness, whether her family would ever be happy again. She contemplated it all from her window seat, stuck in a trance of wondering.

Six word version
Lola wondering, bed-laden mother, absent father.


Ma'ayan Rosenbaum, 14
West Newton, MA

Dearest Sister

Ma'ayan Rosenbaum, 14

Original

As the moon passes over the sky, so too do her eyes, reservoirs of iridescence, flutter open for the evening, glints of the brightest white light dancing in the thin ringlets of hair that frame her face and cascade down her back, cheeks flushed with joy and smile soft with innocence. She’s pretty as a picture, my little sister. I relish in utter delight of having her beside me again, of climbing the branches of oak trees blanketed thickly with lush foliage that smelled of a soft breeze on a spring morning, a euphoric birdsong echoing in our little ears, dancing to a rhythm all our own. But as the sun begins to rise, as does it set on our sumptuous frolicking, ebullience sequestered by my own resentment of the strikingly perfect creature that stood before me. They say the singular emotion able to conquer jealousy is utmost love, but as I stare, unnerved at her bloodied body drifting downstream, and see the reflection of my grayed eyes more lifeless then her beaten corpse, I chuckle at the thought of just how false this statement could be.

Six word version

Softest soul squashed by sisterly psychopathy

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