Writing SF/F class for 7th & 8th graders

It looks like I’ll be teaching a writing SF/F class to 7th & 8th graders at BaseCamp next summer. Details still being finalized, but it should be afternoons 12:30 – 3:30, the first or second week of July.

BaseCamp is one of the slightly more pricy camp options in the area, but I hadn’t realized that most of the money they raise goes to fund in-school enrichment programming, which is free, of course. That makes me feel better about signing my kids up for it! They also offer lots of scholarships, to extend access as far as possible.

Here’s my first rough pass at a name / description / schedule — we’ll see if they have any refinements for me.

I’d love to develop this into a broader SLF / Maram Makerspace project down the road, something like the Shared Worlds program (https://www.sharedworldscamp.com) and the Alpha Writer Workshop (https://alpha.spellcaster.org).


Proposed Camp Name: Building Fantastic Worlds!

Description: Each student will develop their own fantastic world, brainstorming together to create a landscape, characters and creatures, and a compelling story. We’ll write, sketch, build landscapes with Legos, and use role-playing game skills and dice to generate exciting plots. By the end of the camp, each creator will have a world of their own that they can further develop with fiction, graphic novels, screenplays, artwork, and more. Each student will also receive a copy of Wonderbook: an illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction!


Mon: World creation: We’ll talk about worlds we love in fiction, tv/film, and comics (what makes them so great?) and start brainstorming in small groups. Students will develop a planet or landscape or city to use for the rest of the week, using dice to help lay out the details.

Tues: Setting and character: We’ll use Legos to develop the landscapes further, and start creating some interesting characters, sketching and illustrating as much (or as little) as interests the student.

Wed: Storyboarding: We’ll use comics and screenwriting techniques to storyboard out a plot for our first story, and then take turns at the whiteboard presenting our plot ideas and practicing ‘plot-breaking’ — where the group tries to help you figure out the weak spots in your story, so you can make them better.

Thurs: Writing! This is where it all comes together, where we actually write the stories (some students may have already started working on these at home). We’ll do little 10-15 minute writing exercises to generate dialogue, backstory, and action scenes. Some students may choose to work more in a comics style, while others may stick to straight prose.

Fri: Critique and sharing day: We’ll come together in small group workshops to share our work and help everyone make their stories better, and then talk about next steps — where can teen writers learn more about the art of fiction? Where do sci-fi and fantasy writers and creators go to get feedback and learn more? How can you take your story and easily make a little book to share with friends and family? What are some of the paths to publication?



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