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For kids who're talented in writing fiction novels, what would be a good path?

JaneLittleHJaneLittleH 0 replies2 threads New Member
For kids who're talented in writing fiction novels, what would be a good path? Any tips anyone could offer would be much appreciated. Right now she's in 7th grade. She's writing fiction novels, pretty well written. Any one had the experience of looking for coaches for fiction writing and then turn the novel into a published book? Also, for this type of kids, what type of private boarding school would be most suitable - which school has strength in fiction novel area that could allow the student to pursue that interests? Many thanks!
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Replies to: For kids who're talented in writing fiction novels, what would be a good path?

  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1880 replies23 threads Senior Member
    ^^^ now that is funny

    I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to find a school for that topic. To be a writer any good educational background works. There are a lot of summer creative writing programs when she gets a little older. Two of the best are at U of Iowa and Kenyon.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2408 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Check out middle school creative writing programs, like those for the CTY, CTD, or one of the many good colleges and universities which provide such summer and year-round programs.

    The private high schools that are "best" for a kid interested in creative writing are places like Interlochen or Idyllwild. On the other hand, many public schools like ChiArts will be just as good (and way cheaper, as well as usually also having better general academics), but, of course, that depends on whether you have such a high school in your district.

    Often non-arts magnet schools, like Whitney Young in Chicago, have both amazing opportunities in arts (including creative writing), and academics which are of the best in the USA.
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  • compmomcompmom 11570 replies81 threads Senior Member
    I would be cautious about guiding your daughter into too narrow a path at this point, since she is so young. Writing can be applied to many areas of study and work. Creativity can also apply to many areas of study and work.

    By all means find a middle school writing program if she wants one. But as the other poster implied, keep it relaxed, and don't lock her into the identity of "writer" at this age.

    She has many middle and high school years ahead still to develop as a writer or in any other interests she may have over those years. Making something she enjoys doing into a "thing" and adding pressure to talent can have negative consequences for many kids.

    She does not need to choose a high school based on this interest and talent. I know kids from mediocre public high schools who won national writing awards. Try to choose a high school experience that is a good fit for her emotionally as well as academically. Many kids who experience early academic or professional pressure, end up burning out.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9861 replies110 threads Senior Member
    Your D sounds a lot like my D's best friend. She is in college now majoring in education and minoring in english. She's publishing another book this summer (she's been since she was in middle school). She's planning on teaching HS english to pay the bills so she can continue to write. Hopefully at some point, she'll be able to sustain herself with her books but that's a tough road.
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3573 replies85 threads Senior Member
    edited May 18
    So as someone in the writing life, first kudos for you, Mom, for supporting her creative writing and taking it seriously. Second, I agree with much of what's been said on this thread but with nuance.

    In no particular order:
    - No need to push her. She's self-motivated and she's "practicing her craft." That's pretty much all she needs to do to move herself forward at an appropriate pace. With enough of that, she will be successful.
    - She can study whatever she wants in the rest of her schooling. Having general knowledge will help her have something to write *about* plus she will gain perspective from all angles--vital in the world of writing as you need to write convincingly from the POV of all characters, whether you agree with them or not. CWers need all fields of study: history, science, politics, economics, military information, fashion, medicine, psychology, acting and theater--learning to learn is the best thing she can do as she will need to love research to write well.
    - Her apprenticeship period. Writing is a craft. It will take practice for her to do it well. Trying to speed up this process is understandable, and common, but difficult to pull off. It's like the novice who climbs the mountain to speak to the master. The novice says, "Master I want to be a great fighter like you." The Master says, "Go practice for five years." The Novice says, "Five years? I want to be a master now! I'm talented!" The Master says: "In your case? Ten!" That's a joke but the point is somewhat serious. Attempting to speed up the process can work against mastering the craft. Training the ego to serve the craft may be the first order of business. Even "early success" can work against becoming a master. Self-satisfied people cease to progress. Welcome your daughter's failures as well as her successes. The failures make her hone her craft.
    - How to live while apprenticing. So she will want to plan for her apprenticeship job. She either chooses her apprenticeship job or the apprenticeship job will choose her, if she ends up needing one. Apprenticeship jobs are wonderful for paying the rent, getting health insurance and are wonderful sources of material for writing. Virtually all creative writing is about the human condition changing because of events. I say, keep the apprenticeship job (some call it a "day job") as long as possible. Choose whatever job she feels she can do while doing her "real job" which is to write every day. Some writerly types think of law as the best day job because of words. Law is great for some but for many it's too demanding and wordy to allow them to then produce more words for their "real job." Other jobs might be better: administrative work, bartending, welding, whatever works for her.
    - What she should write. It doesn't matter what she writes. She must simply write every day. Setting a timer for an hour and writing ANYTHING for an hour straight will move her in the right direction. Poems, stories, diary entries, gibberish, whatever. This practice and freedom will lead her to find her unique voice. It will also give her the discipline she needs to organize her life so that she uses that hard-won voice. Mostly though she should do this on her own volition. If you, Mom, well intended and loving, force her to write for an hour a day, this is a great way IMHO to burn the roots of her ambition and talent. Best for you is to let her do what she wishes when she wishes. She may drop this for awhile and that's okay. Pausing can be restorative. In winter, tree roots grow stronger.
    - Writing courses: sure! Why not? This can point her towards craft that she hasn't yet considered. Most courses, such as Iowa, tend to work on the workshop method. Students go write. In a given week they share their writing. They sit and listen to others critique. Rinse and repeat. This method actually does work, but it's not a fast-and-dirty process. That plus lots of practice (see apprenticeship above) and she will become a novelist -- or some other writer depending on how her voice develops.
    - Writing communities: Join them. Writing communities and writing groups are real-world continuing education for writers. Classes: talk how to edit. Writing groups edit. Ideally she will find a critique group or groups that continue the workshop process. I know of no writers who write alone forever. At some point everything is workshopped somehow, and then goes through the editing process of an agent, and then goes through the editing process of the publishing house. It's all collaborative in the end. Writing communities also help her learn about GENRE. Genre is a fancy word for the marketing niche. Poetry is a genre. Literary is a genre. Romance is a genre. Horror and fantasy are genres. True crime is a genre. Each genre has its own requirements. She will need to master genre requirements to publish and earn a living.
    - Schools. I wish that I had gone to schools with strong English and CW programs in addition to planning for my apprenticeship job. Schools on my radar: Knox College because it acknowledges genres that are under appreciated such as sci-fi and fantasy, Bard Early College -- she could start at age 16 in college that has encouraged such voices as he Coen brothers; Iowa as an undergrad; Vassar or NYU or Princeton (look at the writing faculty there) or Vanderbilt (Lorrie Moore) or Berkeley (Vikram Chandra) or Bard (Neill Gaiman)--she is an apprentice so the name of school is less important than the master she will be working with. Look at the faculty and what they write to help you decide. Publishing a novel as a spike to get into "a good school" will not be necessary.
    - It takes a long time to do this. The best thing you can do, Mom, is encourage her and give her room to grow. These are great words to use: "You can do this" and "You're doing everything right."
    edited May 18
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3573 replies85 threads Senior Member
    edited May 18
    By "Bard early college" I meant Bard College at Simon's Rock, not the fast-paced early colleges at many high schools.

    Also: Let's say that she can't attend Princeton and study under her favorite master. What she can do instead is to read that person's writing and analyze it. Dissect it. She can use highlighter markers to see what they did, when they did it, to produce what effect in the reader.
    edited May 18
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  • thumper1thumper1 78057 replies3502 threads Senior Member
    edited May 18
    1. She is a seventh grader. I would continue to support her creative writing...but understand that as time goes on, she might also find other areas of high interest as well. In fact, I would urge her to NOT be single dimensional at this age...branch out and try many things.

    2. We know a few fiction writers who are actually under contract with major publishers. All got degrees in fields other than anything related to writing. One was graphic design, one was computer science. You get the picture. These folks had very successful other careers until they received major (and I’m talking big money) contracts from major publishers. These other jobs gave them the ability to save for things like paying an agent which they say was key to their success.

    3. Having said that...creative writing is like any other performing art form. It’s a challenging career path with possibly little in financial gain at least initially. That’s not to say you should discourage her...but at some point, this reality needs to be known to her.

    4. Agree with others...don’t channel all of her or your energies into this one area...now.

    5. Re: Bard Early College. We don’t live all that far from there. I would strongly suggest that no student enroll in this until they are able to visit this program. It’s not for everyone, and is a very unique experience for sure.
    edited May 18
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  • PublisherPublisher 11258 replies148 threads Senior Member
    Writing is about insights, analysis, creativity, and ability to express oneself.
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  • scout59scout59 3697 replies69 threads Senior Member
    A guy I dated in college is now a fiction writer who does well enough to support his wife and four kids with his earnings as a novelist. He majored in philosophy and never took a writing course (or had a coach), but he did write every single day for at least three hours while in college.

    He once told me that the thing that helped him the most, at the beginning of his career, was having rich parents who supported him financially. Some of that is undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek, but there's a grain of truth in that.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4206 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Honestly? Don't send her to a super rigorous school where rigor translates as "intense work load." And that is most elite schools. You want to nurture her love of writing, not her writing career. The career will come later.

    So find a place that lets her have some down time.
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  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU 14483 replies104 threads Forum Champion
    Encourage her to do diverse things and have diverse experiences and meet diverse people so she has something to write about.
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  • tuckethannocktuckethannock 90 replies1 threads Junior Member
    scout59 wrote: »
    A guy I dated in college is now a fiction writer who does well enough to support his wife and four kids with his earnings as a novelist. He majored in philosophy and never took a writing course (or had a coach), but he did write every single day for at least three hours while in college.

    He once told me that the thing that helped him the most, at the beginning of his career, was having rich parents who supported him financially. Some of that is undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek, but there's a grain of truth in that.

    Your friend was 100% serious when he said that.

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  • thumper1thumper1 78057 replies3502 threads Senior Member
    Don't send her to a super rigorous school where rigor translates as "intense work load." And that is most elite schools. You want to nurture her love of writing, not her writing career. The career will come later

    @Massmomm this kid is in 7th grade...
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4206 replies85 threads Senior Member
    @thumper1 That's why I suggested that the mom not look for an elite school. She mentioned searching for a private boarding school in her post.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11258 replies148 threads Senior Member
    edited May 18
    With respect to my post--#10--above, I was not able to finish.

    My point: Some things can be taught, other aspects need to be experienced.

    Encouragement is fine so long as the student remains interested.

    Summer writing programs at the University of Iowa & at Kenyon College provide valuable guidance while exposing your daughter to others who share her interest & excitement about writing.

    Learning to communicate in an effective fashion is an important life-long skill whether or not she becomes a professional writer.
    edited May 18
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1988 replies14 threads Senior Member
    My younger kid had a 7th grade English teacher that had them write a novel for a semester. It was part of some program ( but I don't remember which). Turned out to be a great way to get kids to write and think about so many aspects of a novel ( characters, grammar, etc)

    As I always tell my children, there is money to be made in EVERY field. And I have demonstrated that in my own life ( and not from having rich parents). I'm in a creative field and work very few hours and yet make a very good income. Telling kids not to go into the arts or music or writing or teaching or whatever can hamper their dreams. There are so many ways to make money. I have heard from people who work jobs they hate about how hard it is to make it in X, Y or Z. Well, I come from a very artistic family and I can tell you that people are thriving in the arts (all fields), and many other unusual endeavors. Often they make a really high income and still feed their passion. Imagine that.

    Kids can make a great living these days writing. So many avenues. I would never tell my kids not to pursue a field unless it was something that I think is bunk. (Most are politically correct). Don't want to offend anyone so I won't mention "majors" but I do have a handful where I would roll my eyes. It's just that English isn't one of them.
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  • CACloverCAClover 70 replies1 threads Junior Member
    If a middle schooler wanted to be a dancer, or a musician, or an actor, I think we would encourage them to work hard and get all the training they could through middle school and high school. If they decided that they didn't want to pursue dance, or music, or theater, then we would let them withdraw and follow a different path. I'm not sure why we would treat someone interested in writing any differently. I would encourage a child interested in writing fiction to work hard and get as much training as possible. Training for a writer involves reading literature and working with teachers and other students in analyzing literature and each other's writing. If the child decided at some point to change directions, I think the work and training invested so far would not go to waste by any means.
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1582 replies24 threads Senior Member
    To the OP: My kiddo loves to write. When she was in 6th grade & 7th grade - I sent her to Girl Summer at Emma Willard for their writers workshop. It was a great 2 week course - they did a variety of writing projects and trips (restaurant reviews, a Broadway play review, travel writing piece after touring Boston, adventure log from a zip line excursion). They read their poetry and short stories at a coffee house and visited a publishing house. The girls also published a book. I PRAY that this program will resume next year. It was an amazing experience!!!
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