At the November 2019 Guild meeting, Susan Strasser of the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, Creative Writing Department, asked if Guild members would be interested in helping students at her school.
We volunteered after the meeting and have since been working with her to help the school’s students perfect their writing skills.
In January, we were given twelve short stories from students and asked to critique them. Then in early February, they were part of a four person ‘Jury Panel’ that listened as each student read their paper. The other two jury panel members were instructors from the school, who had also pre-evaluated the student’s papers.
After each student finished reading their paper, one by one the jury panel members provided their critique of the paper, offering both positive feedback and suggestions for enhancements.
Before the first student read their paper, the four panel members did a quick comparison of our critiques. Instantly, it became obvious how impressed all of us were with the twelve papers. Each student had done an excellent job and almost all of the suggestions for improvements were truly enhancements that an edit of a published writer might find.
Perhaps even more impressive was that none of the students took offense to our comments or suggestions and each and every one of them expressed appreciation for our helping them to become better writers.
In mid-April, we put together a PowerPoint presentation on how to enhance Creative Non-Fiction using Creative Fiction writing techniques.
This was presented by Bob at the end of April, as the Creative Non-Fiction class kicked off its first session via Zoom. The session covered the three structures of Creative Non-Fiction which the students were to choose their first paper from.
It then provided example topics within each structure and gave examples of how, show don’t tell, emotions, the five senses and other fiction techniques, could be used in each. Once again, the presentation was very well received as the students went off to select the topic for their first paper.
Next up, once on grounds classes resume, we have offered to do the Editing Untangled Workshop to help round out the students’ skill sets.
Here’s what Susan had to say about what we did:
“Bob and Robyn were a great addition to our student’s development as writers. Not only did they provide meaningful feedback for student writers during our mid-year jury, but they also gave a workshop about picking topics when the school was doing distance learning [during the pandemic]. I can’t wait to have them back next year.”
San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts
Creative Writing Department Chair