Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Writopia Lab for ages 8-18


Writopia Lab, founded in New York City in 2007, is a national community of young writers, ages 8-18. If you love the idea of developing your first short story, script, or memoir, or if you are already a prolific writer who is thrilled by the idea of polishing exceptional short stories, journalistic pieces, personal essays, poetry, and dramatic or comedic scripts, join our year-round after- school, weekend, and school-break intensive creative writing workshops.
Our students enter at different levels...and leave with at least one piece of polished, original prose!
Why Writopia Lab works: our workshops meet daily in the summer and weekly during the school year; we limit enrollment to a maximum of six participants per workshop; all of our teachers are published writers who have been extensively trained in our workshopping methodology; and we place a strong emphasis on developing, completing and polishing stories, often using exciting events such as the Scholastic Writing Awards to inspire us.

Writopia Lab runs workshops in ManhattanBrooklynNorthern WestchesterSouthern WestchesterWashington DC, and Los Angeles. Follow those links for scheduling information. If you would like Writopia to come to your city or town, email or call Rebecca at (212) 222-4088. To sign up for a workshop, fill out our online registration form!

The Highlights 
Every few months, workshop participants are invited to read their finished pieces at bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and public libraries. During these exciting events, Writopia Lab's writers share their work with friends, relatives, and with others who come in response to listings in various media. 

The Workshops
Workshops have a maximum of sixparticipants. Sessions are peppered with original and fun writing exercises, but focus primarily on writing--and completing--stories. Each time we meet, students bring copies of the newest drafts of their work to share with the group. They quietly review each other's work--marking the parts or lines they enjoy most along with the sections that they think can be improved--and then share these ideas with the group. Within a few sessions, students comfortably and easily provide insightful feedback to their peers. 

All workshop leaders are published writers who are experts in helping young writers understand and implement elements of plot and key literary tools.

Workshops are student-driven. Students may find themselves drawn to any number of genres, including the following:
  1. Fiction (realistic fiction, fanstasy, science fiction, or historical fiction)
  2. Non-fiction (memoir or journalism)
  3. Screenwriting and Playwriting (short or long, comedic or dramatic scripts for film or stage)
  4. Poetry
  5. SENIORS! Most seniors choose to bring their college essays to workshops and/or to private sessions at the Lab for feedback from our instructors.
In the fiction and memoir workshops, students brainstorm story ideas, discuss the logic of various structural choices and the virtues of applying key literary tools such as metaphorsand similes. Ultimately, students complete polished pieces of writing. These workshops culminate in public readings at local bookstores.

Students who choose to write journalistic pieces learn how to write (and pitch!) feature stories and opinion pieces, and, by the end of the workshop, some may publish their storiesin school papers or publications of their choice.
In the playwriting and screenwriting workshops, students learn techniques, gain tools, and master the structure of each form. By the end of the workshop, students will have turned ideas into scripts, moving from the page to the stage. The workshops will culminate in staged readings of the students' work at a theater in New York City. Students may also submit their work to festivals and competitions such as Stephen Sondheim's Young Playwrights Inc.National Competition.
While we do not offer a specific poetry workshop, each workshop group has the option to schedule a short poetry session at each meeting.
Prestigious writing competitions serve as motivational and inspirational devices for most of the writing workshops. Over the last three years, dozens of Writopia Lab's students have won silver and gold regional and national awards from Scholastic's Art and Writing Awards in almost every genre of writing. Rebecca is a regional and national judge for this competition. Dan is a judge for (and 2002 winner of) The Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival, and was a 2003 Finalist in Stephen Sondheim's Young Playwrights Inc. National Competition.
Most importantly, though, the workshops have enabled a community of young writers to find each other, connect via their literary passions, and have lots of fun.
"The workshop was amazing! I learned so much about writing short stories, articles and poetry in just two weeks. It was wonderful having this experience and a great time all at once. I'd do it again for sure!" 
—Rebecca, 14, A.J. Heschel Middle School, Scholastic Silver Keys Winner in Poetry and Short Story, 2007
"The workshop was an amazing experience! While expressing your creativity and building your skills, you were chilling and laughing the whole time! I am so glad I was a part of it... My work began to transform to art." 
—Milana, 14, A.J. Heschel School, Scholastic Regional Gold Keys Winner for two memoirs, 2007
"Rebecca has amazing lingual intuition – she knows how words feel and sound, and this enables her to work with all kinds of writing, from short stories to poems to essays... When she makes a suggestion, she is not offended if you don’t agree. She listens and considers your perspective as the writer. She can give general ideas and overall feedback as well as specific analysis, so that the writer is free to use her ideas but interpret them and write them their own way... Rebecca is an awesome (for lack of a more specific word of praise) editor and writer, and an equally amazing person. The gift of working with her is a double bonus – her amazing skill as a writer and editor, and her warm, smiling, funny, happy, wonderful personality." 
—Noa Bendit-Shtull, 15, Bard College High School, Scholastic National Gold Key Winner, 2006. Check out Noa's story on the Scholastic site.

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