This week I am teaching at "Kid Write," a program run by the local arts center where I usually teach an adult class in writing science fiction and fantasy. Instead, I have 15 nine-to-thirteen-year-olds who want to learn to write better fiction. Well, some want that. When we introduced ourselves yesterday and told our reasons for coming to the class, one honest child said, "My parents made me." However, on the other hand, no fewer than four of the fifteen said they want to be authors when they grow up.
These kids read. On the playground for recess, one girl even preferred to continue reading than to play Lava Monster, usually a big draw. (Full disclosure: I do not play Lava Monster, I merely observe.) They also write, some saying they write every day in the summer, which is more than I do. Yes, they are a pre-selected, undoubtedly atypical group. And it would be nice if they could punctuate better. But this class is not about punctuation, and I will touch on it only lightly. The class is about exploring the elements of fiction: dialogue (yesterday), description (today), plot, characterization, interior monologue, endings. The same things, in short, that all fiction uses, plus the chance to write in a supportive atmosphere.
The kids may learn to write more effectively. And I am encouraged to know that, in the age of video games, such kids still exist.