Writing and performing radio plays at The Wizard’s Library Camp in Korea

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One of the great activities we did this week at the CWC creative writing camp in Korea is have the kids write and perform their own radio plays. This activity was led by my wife, Marcie Nestman, who was able to draw on her acting experience to help the kids deliver top notch performances.

My part was a bit more humble—I just suggested the kids design their own posters to advertise the play.

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The performances were very amusing and we had some good laughs as the kids used various props to help communicate what was going on in their play. I was also impressed with how many of them tried different accents and voice styles to help bring their characters to life.

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Enter the Wizard’s Library

My wife Marcie Nestman and I are currently in Korea teaching a creative writing camp on the theme of the Wizard’s Library, which is really just a fancy way of saying fantasy.

We’ve had a lot of fun incorporating Marcie’s voice over and acting talents with my visual approach to writing. Our camp began with giving each of the kids a “magical” quiz to break their ice and test their powers of imagination. Afterwards, I delivered a presentation on the standard archetypes founds in fantasy stories and it was time for the students to begin developing their own cast of characters.

We gave them each a wizardly kit to help them in the creation of their characters. In each kit were things such as miniature potion bottles, a dragon’s tooth, and the feather from a magical creature. Here’s some photos of their creations . . .

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Crafting characters and kingdoms at the Children’s Art Festival in Richmond

Last week was a busy one. In between working on my own projects, I delivered a series of creative writing workshops for the Children’s Art Festival in Richmond, BC. Kids of all ages attended the festival, while selected classes from local schools came to my workshop room to learn some of my top techniques for creating heroes, villains, and kingdoms.

Each of these workshops comes with a fun quiz to help warm up the students to the topic. I’m happy to report that three students failed the Quiz of Villainy. It’s hard to fail—and rare!

Below, are some pictures from the week, showing off some of the brainstorming done by the imaginative students. The Children’s Arts Festival will be back in 2016! Find out more here.

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Designing crests for our kingdoms

Before the students could work on their final design, I had them brainstorm multiple concepts on a worksheet. I was pleased to see the students invest some time in this important phase of the creative process.

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Heroic characters

The worksheet for this workshop isn’t so much about building a character profile, but about brainstorming different ideas for a heroic character. I really encourage the students to put aside their erasers and just create.

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Villainous Characters

Similar to the hero workshop, this class involves brainstorming, as opposed to creating a finalized character profile.

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Mapping an adventure—and the plot for a story

I love maps. My own Kendra Kandlestar books certainly feature a few of them (you can check them out at kendrakandlestar.com). There are also plenty of maps that I do in my sketchbooks just to help me plot out critical scenes or sections of my books. It’s an approach to writing that I try to bring into my author visits to schools—like today.

I spent the day at John G. Diefenbaker Elementary school as part of an outreach literacy program sponsored by the Richmond Children’s Arts Festival. While I did my monster design for the youngest group (the kindergarteners to Grade 2s) I decided to do the mapping activity for the rest of the student body.

It’s a fun activity, to be sure, but what I especially love about it is that it combines so many different aspects of writing, such as brainstorming, plotting, character development, and setting design.

It works like this . . .

I’m at the front of the class with an easel, where I design an adventure with ideas from the students in the audience. But the great part of this situation is that the students are also armed with paper and pencils so that they can design their own individual adventures, putting in their own unique ideas.

We start by drawing a stick-figure version of a main character in the bottom lefthand corner. Then, in the top righthand corner (so as far away as possible from the character), we draw an object that was stolen from that character. Then, it’s just a matter of getting the character to the object—but not without making said character deal with a whole slew of obstacles first!

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I led two different sessions of this map making activity at Diefenbaker Elementary. During these two sessions, we certainly came up with some intriguing problems—and solutions. Not only did we have the ever-popular exploding volcanoes, deadly deserts, and spooky forests, but also giant sand worms, a trick trap door, and a school of chicken piranhas (don’t ask).

By the end of each sessions, the students ended up with basic plots that they could then transform into words or, as I like to call them, instant stories!

Below is a smattering of the maps that the students created. I know many of them are going to take their raw brainstorming and redraft them into more polished maps, but I love the energy of their initial output!

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