Message from me to you AND your parents.
WRITE LA Creative Fiction Workshop 2020
TUESDAY | March 24th, 2020
Writing is a gift, a sneaky little voice that looms within. Turning those beautiful, wild, twisted ideas into cohesive stories? That is the stuff imagination longs for.
This workshop is going to get you prepared to write your short story.
The bonus? It’s FREE!
Rather than sit in a classroom, we’re going to practice social distancing like rockstars.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
— Dr. Seuss
Why Creative Short Fiction?
It’s a great start to storytelling.
This workshop is meant to arm you with the tools you need to have a full grasp on story, and if you can write a piece of short fiction? You’ll be ready to write more.
So what is creative short fiction exactly?
Think of a tall tale. A great example would be the movie, Big Fish written by John August and directed by Tim Burton. That film (based on a book by Daniel Wallace) takes a collection of wild, fantastical stories a father tells his son over the course of his lifetime. The son is trying to understand if the stories were made up or real, and so he takes a journey to uncover the truth.
Each journey is based on one hard-to-believe story, but each one, when strung together create one beautiful tale, and in this case a near perfect film.
Like most things Burton creates, the worlds in the film are magical, as is the book itself that Wallace originally created.
In the book, Wallace spins tall tales that include giants, Siamese twins, an enormous fish that may or not be a human trapped in the water, and a truly wonderful love story between the son’s parents.
One of those stories? Those tall tales? Those could stand alone as singular pieces of short fiction.
And that’s what we’re doing. But these will be YOUR stories. The wild renderings of your own imagination.
The theme of this first project is going to be a story about being your own superhero.
For those ages 12 and under, I want you to think about these five things BEFORE you start your story.
But first? You’ll need a lined notebook and a pen or pencil. You can also do this using a computer.
- Who is your favorite TV or movie character?
- What do you like about them?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
- If you could do one thing to save the world from ever getting sick again, what would it be?
- What scares you and what makes you feel happy?
When you have these questions answered (and take your time), then we can move on to creating your very own story.
So now that you have your five questions answered, are you ready to start the beginning of your story?
Now begins the real creative fun. I’m going to ask you to keep an open mind and remember, there are no wrong answers. This workshop is YOUR SAFE PLACE to explore your own imagination without judgement.
I will be here to help you structure your story, and give you pointers.
Let’s get started. Below is your first assignment.
Remember if you need help writing things down, ask a parent, sibling, or someone who can help you. There is also a super power cheat sheet at the bottom of this page.
You can ask me any question by emailing me at email@example.com
The first thing you need to know? YOU ARE THE SUPERHERO in this story. You can be anything you want and have any power you can imagine.
- Write down, “In a time when everything was the same, something happened that changed it all.”
- Now write down the next sentence.
- What happened in your imagination? (Remember you can say ANYTHING)
- Did the color of the sky change?
- Did everyone stop being able to use their voices?
- Did your pets start talking and you could hear them?
- Did the world get sick?
- Did you get a superpower?
- Now think of something silly.
- What makes you happiest? Being with your brother or sister? Playing with your friends?
- What is the silliest thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s the best joke you’ve been told?
- Write down characteristics (things about your favorite TV/film character) you like. Try coming up with at least three things (examples: funny, brave, kind, strong, fearless, smart, clever, etc.)
- Now, remember the superpower you came up with? Tell me all about it (by writing it down).
- Remember that a superpower can be used for good or evil.
- Be specific. WHY did you choose that superpower?
- What is your favorite color?
- Now, using that color, think about what kind of costume do you need that let’s people know what kind of superpowers you have?
- How did you use your favorite color?
- Write down 5 things you see outside your window.
- If its a tree? Tell me about the colors, the kinds of leaves, what the tree trunk and branches look like.
- Now that you know you’re a hero, what is your weakness?
- Why is that a weakness?
- Can someone take your power away?
- How will your superhpower help mankind?
Once you’ve answered ALL of those questions, send me your answers by emailing them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can help you with the next part of the assignment.
13 and older!
In YOUR story, you are also a superhero story of sorts.
But you are the kind of hero that goes against the grain. The kind of hero no one sees coming, but the one everyone needs… including you.
I believe YOU can handle anything, and story is the most playful, honest, imaginative, and safe way to share the things you’re feeling and thinking about.
While we’re stuck at home, trying to wrap our heads around what’s happening in the world, having a chance to look inward and explore the uncertainty can be incredibly powerful. And you are powerful.
Your superhero story is going to be structured a little differently than the one for the younger kiddos. I’m going to encourage you to be unafraid of being a little dark, a little more open than you’re used to, and in the process I hope you realize you already possess everything you need to make the world a far more dynamic place.
This week we’re going to focus on your hero’s intention.
- What is your story about?
- What is your main character’s motivation?
- Who are your characters? (Try to keep the main characters under 4 people)
- What nuances make them unique?
- Do you relate to them?
These five questions can help you decipher everything. Why? Because if you don’t know what and who your story is about, that’s the first challenge you’re going to be faced with.
Start this week by taking time to know the WHY.
Why are you motivated to tell your story?
It’s not meant to be discouraging, but when you’ve finished your story, someone is going to ask you why you wrote your story, what inspired you. Honestly? This is the time to craft an answer so that BEFORE you start writing and breaking your story, you remember there’s a reason for it.
In order to craft a great story, you have to peel away the things holding you back.
Why does that matter? Because your story matters. Sometimes going against the grain is your greatest asset. Seeing your story in tangible pieces helps you see the bigger picture.
DO THE WORK, OPEN YOUR CREATIVE WELLS.
So this week, begin with answering these questions:
- What motivates your main characters?
- Is it frustration, loss, revenge, hope, friendship, love?
- Why do you think the world needs this hero right now?
- This is a question you really need to think about but don’t be afraid to be totally honest
- Use the things happening in your own life right now. The things you wish you could change.
- Would you root for your hero? (If you answered no, ask why.)
- Where is your hero from?
- Are they from planet earth?
- Are they from Kansas? London? Zimbabwe? Tehran? Budapest?
- Are they made of minerals like dirt or metal?
- Are they made of normal flesh and bone?
- How do they talk?
- Remember that dialogue is key. Be expressive but don’t speak in ways that don’t FEEL natural (to you). Forced dialogue is always obvious.
- Great ways of writing dialogue is to think about how YOU talk to your friends. How you talk to people you feel accept you as you are.
- What is “your” superhero power?
- Why is it unique?
- Why does it matter?
- How does this empower you?
- Make a list of your top 1-4 characters.
- Give them names. This makes them real to you.
- Write down 5 characteristics of each one of your characters. Do not be basic. Describe WHO and WHAT they are.
- Do they have nervous ticks?
- Do they have distinguishing marks?
- Do you they have hair? What color? What style? What color are their eyes?
- What style do they have? (Stuck in the 80s, emo, surfer, tee shirt and jeans, checkered Vans and dress, etc.)
- Lastly, whatever descriptive word you’re used to using (like amazing), go search for a new way to say it.
- EXAMPLES: Instead of sad, use heartbroken/sullen/dour. Instead of happy, use gleeful/optimistic/always smiling/jolly. GET DEEP and GET CREATIVE.
When you’ve answered these questions, email them to me for feedback at email@example.com. I will be checking back to see how everyone is doing and if you have questions you can also Contact me HERE.
While you work out exactly who your hero(heroes) are, you should explore two non-traditional superhero shows on your downtime should you get stuck: Stranger Things and I Am Not Okay with This (TV MA).
Each episode could easily be a piece of standalone short fiction.
There are incredible lines of dialogue, lots of action, awkward teenage moments, and real family and friend dynamics. With a few doses of science fiction and a twisted story plot, both series has something to say about the state of the world.
A CHEAT SHEET FOR POWERS
ABOUT ME + WHY I’M DOING THIS WORKSHOP
As a little girl, I started writing down stories as early as six years old. I had little more than pieces of scratch paper, construction paper, a pen, pencil, colored pencils or crayons. It was up to me to work through fears, hopes, curiosities and ideas by finding ways to get them out. Fiction was the one thing I felt could help.
Growing up with grandfathers that could spin a story, and reading anything by Dr. Seuss and books like A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, my young mind had a great start. In my teenage years, as I entered junior high and studied strange pieces of fiction like Animal Farm—and classics works by authors Shakespeare, T.S. Elliot, Oscar Wilde, and later writers like Stephen King, Sylvia Plath, Tom Robbins, Henry Miller, and Jack Kerouac —and I started paying attention to the value of words.
I realized vocabulary was fascinating and that when I got clever with how I used words, story was far more interesting to read, and eventually to write. In college, that is where I really got exposed to deeper, more profound pieces of fiction, including my favorite short story ever, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.
What have I written?
Loads of poetry, short fiction, two books, three feature films, 1 short film, and two TV Series.
Writing can seem a little scary, but it was when I studied classic literature and wild fantastical stories that I began to understand my own way of expression. That said, had someone given me a little guidance, it would have take a lot less time to start becoming the writer I am now.
As I explored the writer within, once in a while people way smarter than me with so much more experience than I had gave me tips and opportunity that opened the creative doorway.
I created this workshop FOR YOU.
Because everyone deserves to tell their story. On their terms.
For those that wanted to explore screenwriting, please check out the SCREENWRITING WORKSHOP:
The last writing workshop we did at LACMA was about learning descriptors.