“Write About What You Know!”

Last Monday, celebrated author Jack Gantos arrived with a mission—to help seventh graders become more effective creative writers. “Writing a novel is hard, but anyone can write a great short story.”
What first caught students’ attention was Jack’s unabashed, unequivocal manner. But it quickly became clear that his zeal arises from his passion for telling gripping stories. He began by describing his seventh-grade self: a bookish, clueless, private boy who managed to get himself into the most awful scrapes. For example, his neighborhood invented something Jack called the Sociopath Olympics. "That no one died—only suffered broken arms and a fair amount of blood—was a miracle." He used a series of grisly stories to make a point. “Your day is filled with interesting moments. Anything awkward or embarrassing has an emotional component and is a great place to start.” He visited classes, presenting a structured way for seventh graders to approach their writing. “50% action and 50% emotion.” “Establish place, setting, and characters. “Introduce the problem, and finish by resolving it.”
Jack’s visit kicks off the seventh-grade creative-writing unit. “The seventh-grade writing curriculum includes research, analytical, and creative writing,” said gradehead George Langdon. “It gives students a solid grounding in how to approach these different kinds of writing assignments and sets the stage for further development in eighth grade.”
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