WorldBuilding Writing Workshop

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WorldBuilding Writing Workshop

Students at both Northern Valley Old Tappan and Cliffside Park HS built a new world on Wednesday, June 1st, in their Library Media Centers. Authors Lori Goldstein, Marcy Beller Paul, and Lee Kelly presented an interactive workshop, “Building Worlds in Fiction,” for a selection of motivated students, including some inspiring novelists!

The three YA authors began by eliciting students’ perceptions of creating a “world” for a story or novel. They described and read from their books to demonstrate how they built worlds for fantasy, contemporary, and science fiction YA novels, then led students through an exercise in building a world together.

“What if…” They asked the students working in small groups to dream up the wildest concepts. Students imagined unique and thought-provoking scenarios:
“What if you learned that your best friend was an android / robot?”
“What if you could get sucked into a book?”
“What if Heaven was not as good as it seems and Hell was full of people that were misunderstood?”
“What if everything is a lie?”
“What if you can revive someone by using your own life?”

Goldstein, Paul, and Kelly chose that last question as the group inspiration and led students through a series of world building frameworks. Where and what time period will it be set? Who has power in that society? What are their entertainments and traditions? And so on. Students brainstormed, answering questions inventively and raising tantalizing new ones. “Are the ‘soul’ and ‘life force’ the same or separate entities?” “Can a person give a few years of his or her life to revive another, or does it have to be whole life?” “At what age can people volunteer their lives?” “Is there a ceremony to determine who gets to be revived?” “Is there any competition for revival?” “Who decides?” Then, the authors asked students to consider what kind of character should tell the story of this world and how different perspectives would change it.

Goldstein, Paul, and Kelly closed the Library visits with thoughtful and humorous answers to students’ questions and awarded copies of their books to students who participated the most actively.

These workshops, organized by the BELS Library Consortium, were so dynamic and engaging you will definitely want them to come and inspire your students. We are working on another round of visits for November, so please email Abigail for more info.

Lori Goldstein, author of Becoming Jinn and Circle of Jinn.
Marcy Beller Paul, author of Underneath Everything.
Lee Kelly, author of City of Savages and A Criminal Magic.

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