Today I began a week-long stint as an instructor at a local "writing camp" for 11-to-14-year-olds. Each morning I and 15 kids will write, explore some facet of fiction through examples and exercises, talk about words, and listen to good fiction. Today we worked on dialogue. We wrote dialogues featuring different responses from different kinds of characters to the same situation. I read them Terry Bisson's "They're Made of Meat," as an example of what could be done with nothing but dialogue, and they loved it ("Awesome!") They wrote arguments between two characters featured in various pictures (the argument between two buildings in New York was especially interesting). We also talked about plot, in preparation for the story they will be writing the rest of the week.
This is a self-selected group of kids, and already I can tell there is talent here. They dramatize. They have creative ideas. They're a raucous joy. But I think a week is about as much as I could do, because they have an order of magnitude more energy than I do. I went home and had a nap.
Tomorrow -- on to effective description.