Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Jean-Paul Recommends The Hunger Games Because She Didn’t Hate It

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On August - 3 - 2012

Hunger Games Jean Paul Recommends The Hunger Games Because She Didnt Hate ItSometimes, I try to stay away from what’s popular because I just can’t believe the hype surrounding it. I waited until the second book came out in the Harry Potter series before reading the first one, and of course I was hooked by the opening line. I just couldn’t believe a book could be that good, that everyone who read it ended up loving it, and so I didn’t give in until I got tired of people disbelieving me when I said I hadn’t read the first book.

Then came Twilight and I couldn’t understand how a book with such bad reviews could be so popular. I wanted to know why, what was it about Bella and Edward that captivated people? I wish I could lie and say I’ve never read Twilight, but I have. And I read the sequel. But I stopped with the third book. Out of pure curiosity, I had a friend tell me how everything ended and then did a finger puppet reenactment for some other friends who hadn’t read any of the books. The reenactment was basically my right index finger intensely asking my left index finger, “Why aren’t you scared of me?” and then brooding while my left index finger floated through the scene in a selfish haze.

So when The Hunger Games exploded on the scene, I was cautious. I heard the complaints about it being a weak Battle Royale ripoff, but then I saw it rising to the top of the bestseller lists. Friends and classmates recommended it, but I didn’t want another Twilight experience, and I knew nothing could ever live up to the hype like Harry Potter did, so I just said, “yeah, okay, I’ll check it out,” knowing full well I was planning on doing nothing of the sort. The only reason I ended up reading the book is because my sister bought movie tickets and I wanted to know how I was going to be wasting two hours of my life.

I went into the book expecting the worst and came out pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that bad. Actually, it was pretty good. I had to give Suzanne Collins props because I was only hoping I’d be able to finish the book and she had me wanting more.

I’ve read quite a few books this summer, some good, some bad, one or two awesome ones, and it’s kinda funny that I consider The Hunger Games the best book I’ve read these past few months simply because I didn’t hate it. I know Public Enemy told everyone not to believe the hype, but in this case giving a hyper-popular book a try was totally worth it.

Image courtesy of Scholastic

Steven’s Lovechildren

Posted by Steven Salvatore Shaw On July - 20 - 2012

Book 600x438 Stevens LovechildrenIf I had to describe my current projects as lovechildren of different YA titles, well, I’m not really sure that that would be fair to my work and the work of those poor, poor already established-and-published authors who would more-likely-than-not be offended by my comparisons. Alas, I love these types of games (and I secretly play this game all the time – not just with my work, but with other authors, musical artists and even movies), so I can’t resist.

My first second complete manuscript, How I Set Myself On Fire, is kind of a genre-crossing novel in the sense that it’s realistic, yet has certain cartoonish elements. It’s serious, yet fun and witty. It’s topical, specific, yet I think it relates to a broader concept. Vague, right? (I’m superstitious – and agent-less – so I like to keep details under wraps). Anyway, if I had to describe it as a combination of X, Y, and Z, I would have to say it has the wit, charm, and NYC flare of David Levithan’s Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, the artistry and topical nature of Nick Burd’s The Vast Fields of Ordinary, with the lightest touch of Salinger’s Holden Caulfield in my main character.

As for the project I’m working on now, without giving too much away, I would have to say it’s like Perry Moore’s Hero meet’s Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games meets your typical superhero graphic novel.

So there you have it. My literary lovechildren.

Note: David Levithan, Nick Burd, Suzanne Collins, and the legacies of JD Salinger and Perry Moore were not harmed in the writing of this TWB post.

Cover images courtesy of Ember and Speak

Mary Gets Cranky About This Month’s Question

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On July - 11 - 2012

Cow1 202x300 Mary Gets Cranky About This Month’s QuestionThis month’s question is “Where does your book fit into the kidlit world? Come up with comparable titles.”

Let’s be honest right from the beginning: I hate this question! My publisher has described Wuftoom as “Kafka’s Metamorphosis meets Suzanne Collins’s Gregor the Overlander.” I have no idea if that’s true because I haven’t had a chance to read either one of those books. I feel like I read a lot of books compared to most people, but I still don’t have time to read anywhere near the amount of books I’d need to read to be able to come up with comparable titles off the top of my head. Of course, it doesn’t help that my books tend to be a little (okay a lot) weird. Actually, it kind of bugs me that people keep mentioning Kafka in relation to Wuftoom, because I don’t like the implication that I’m somehow trying to do a Metamorphosis for children — there’s no kind of book that I dislike more than a purposeful retread of a classic, and I would never never never do that! Nope, sorry kids, you won’t be getting a Wuthering Heights and Zombies or Romeo and Juliet go to the Prom from me! I guess the reason people in the publishing world want comparisons is that they want to sell books to people who liked other books. And that’s fine. But I don’t want to read, say, another Wizard of Oz or another Harry Potter or another Hamlet. I want to read something that I haven’t read before, and that’s what I try to do with my books. I’m not saying I always succeed — after all, everything is built on something. Readers have to understand your book and identify with the characters.

So, for example, my next book, Escape from the Pipe Men! is about aliens. The aliens have spaceships and come from planets, and it’s possible to describe them using English and comparisons to things you might have seen before. But I hope that my aliens are different, and my world is different, and the challenges my kids face will be new and fresh. I hope that the book won’t be easy for anyone to classify by coming up with comparable titles on a minute’s thought. At least, I can’t do it. And truthfully, I wish people wouldn’t even try. I don’t want to know if a book I’m reading is like some other book, because if I haven’t read that other book, I can at least enjoy the first book under the illusion that it’s something new. It’s the worst to start reading a book and realize I’ve totally seen that. This book is called Nelly’s Hairy Boyfriend but it’s really just Harry Potter and Werewolves! No no no. I want to open up a book and go, “I have never seen anything like this.” When people are asked about comparable titles for one of my books, I hope they will shrug and look terribly confused. The biggest complement of all is “There’s really no comparison.” And yes, that’s a picture of a cow.

Guest Blogger Jean-Paul Bass Puts the ‘Hero’ Back in Heroine

Posted by JeanPaul Bass On April - 11 - 2012

4329812168 f65b2cf670 n Guest Blogger Jean Paul Bass Puts the Hero Back in Heroine

She sighs. She huffs. She mumbles. She does everything except depend on herself. In the background, there is always a knight on a white horse just waiting to come to her rescue. Even if she pushes him away (usually for his own good, or so she tells herself), in the end she can’t be saved without his help.

In recent years, books have relied on the damsel-in-distress as the main female protagonist. It made me wonder if today’s teens are so blinded by the hero’s stunning abs that they don’t realize the heroine could’ve saved herself if she was a bit more plucky and a lot less sucky. But the times, they are a changin’, and none too soon, if you ask me.

With blockbusters like The Hunger Games dominating screens, bestseller lists, and even news sites, books with strong female leads are popping up on reading lists all over the blogosphere. Everyone wants to root for the girl who can kick butt, and readers are demanding more books with strong females in lead roles, but does that mean that’s all she can do?  It seems that many people equate “strong female lead” with traits usually associated with masculinity, such as being a good fighter and ruthlessness.

Giving a female character mostly male characteristics simply reinforces the idea that the stereotypes associated with girls are undesirable.  There are a lot of traits girls can be proud of, such as our compassion, being fiercely protective of those in our care, and we should definitely be proud of our superior communicative abilities. That’s right — we may talk too much for some people’s tastes, but we know how to make a point and that is a good thing.

When I was growing up, I was enthralled by Anne Shirley, the heroine of Anne of Green Gables. She has spunk, she’s upbeat, clever, and she’s determined. Once she set her mind on something, she made it happen. When her friendship is forbidden by Diana Barry’s mother after she mistakenly gives Diana three glasses of wine instead of the raspberry cordial Diana was expecting, Anne becomes determined to win over Diana’s mother so that they may once again be friends. By the end of the book, Mrs. Barry and the entire town are enamored with Anne and the incident is forgotten.

Anne is a strong female lead and although she probably couldn’t punch her way out of a paper bag, she sure could talk you into letting her out. What makes Anne such a strong lead is not that she has masculine traits (because she doesn’t), but that she is written so vividly and convincingly as someone who doesn’t take no for an answer and who uses her guile and wits to her advantage. And really, that’s what being strong boils down to — deciding for yourself what happens next in your life and making it happen.

I’m glad to see warrior-like characters such as Katniss (The Hunger Games) get their due. It’s time for strong female leads to once again dominate the bookshelves and cinemas. But when writing our own badass female characters, let’s not forget that sometimes a feminine touch can go just as far as a punch.

Bio: Jean-Paul Bass recently decided to quit her job to focus on writing full-time and she swears she doesn’t miss having a regular paycheck at all.  She is currently working on her M.F.A. in fiction at The New School and is writing a memoir about growing up in Cleveland, Ohio.   

Photo credit: Flickr – manan0410

215px HungerGamesPoster 195x300 Breaking YA News: Hunger Games Theme Park to Feature Actual Tributes from Thirteen StatesUniversal Studios has announced that it will begin work on a theme park that will let fans live the experience of Katniss Everdeen, star of the popular Hunger Games movie and book series. Thanks to an agreement between Universal, the film’s producers, and the country’s most cash-strapped states, the park will feature actual live tributes, whose families will be paid $1,000 for each day their tribute survives after beginning his or her shift.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Universal president Barney Rhodes. “The states get lump sum payments that will really help with their budget deficits, plus they’ll save the cash they would have spent on welfare and Medicaid. The families replace their mouths to feed with crisp green dollars. And Hunger Games fans get to live out their dream of killing other people for no reason. People love these books because of the senseless murder. We’re giving them what they want and making it even more fun!”

Author Suzanne Collins was less excited about the plan. “They’re doing thirteen states,” she said. “But in my books, only twelve districts send tributes. Unless they fix this inaccuracy, I might have to sue for breach of contract.” But Universal was sanguine about the threat. “She sold her rights to us fair and square,” said a spokesperson. “Plus, Mississipi needed the money. It’s a win-win.”

Teen Writers Bloc also spoke to some fans. “Omigod, I can’t wait!” said self-described “superfan” Angela Burbank, 18, whom we spoke to outside a midnight showing of the Hunger Games movie. “I hope we get to do some of the killing ourselves. It would suck if it was just, like, behind some glass or something.”

“I don’t know,” said 12-year-old Alyssa. “If the tributes are getting paid, it’s not really the same. If they start doing a lottery thing, I’ll think about it.”

We followed up with Universal to see if becoming a tribute would, in fact, be voluntary. “It’s up to the parent,” said the spokesperson. “We br … I mean convinced state legislators to change the laws to make children property of the parents until they turn eighteen. Republicans know our way is better than birth control. So the parents can sell them to us or not. But I can tell you, we’ve already got more offers than we can handle! One father even offered his son for free. He said the kid was a sissy for reading a ‘girl’ book like The Hunger Games and this would teach him.”

We then asked if Universal had any plans for a similar theme park centering around 1990s Japanese bestseller Battle Royale, which also features teenagers senselessly murdering each other at the behest of an evil government. “What? Never heard of it. Hunger Games is totally original,” said the spokesperson, who hung up on us.

Look for “The Hunger Games: Isn’t Senseless Slaughter Fun?” to open at Universal Studios Florida in summer 2015!

Photo courtesy Lionsgate 

Steven’s Writer’s Crush on JK Rowling

Posted by Steven Salvatore Shaw On March - 30 - 2012

J.K. Rowling Steven’s Writer’s Crush on JK RowlingI have a writers crush on JK Rowling. If life was Hogwarts, JK Rowling would be the Cho Chang to my Harry Potter, (circa books 4 & 5), the Hermione to my Ron, the Harry Potter to my obsessed Rita Skeeter, the Fleur Delacuer to, well, every Hogwarts male with a pulse.

Sure, she’s old enough to be my mom, but if it wasn’t for her, I never would have had the incredible pleasure of tasting the intoxicating Butterbeer I had when I was at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida last month.

Okay, that’s not the only reason why I love JK Rowling. I will go on record, right here and now, and say that JK Rowling is one of the most prolific, skilled contemporary writers of our generation. Her prose is flawless; it has a flow to it that her contemporaries only dream of having in their writing.

Oh, and then there’s the world-building. The wizarding world, Hogwarts, and everything else about the Harry Potter series is so well thought out, so intricate, so tightly woven that it makes me curse the heavens that I wasn’t blessed with the idea (and the talent) to write the Harry Potter series (which means I would’ve been 12-years-old when Sorcerer’s Stone was released had I written it. Whatever, I’d be famous). To think that she is often mentioned in the same breath as Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins is laughable (don’t get me wrong, I also have a writer’s boner for The Hunger Games, but that’s for an entirely different reason). Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight is one of the most poorly written book series I’ve ever had the displeasure of trying to read.

But I won’t be negative. Anymore. Starting … now!

Let’s get back to the world-building. She built that series with such care that each chapter in each book fits into each other, and in the end, it all comes together making sense as a whole piece. I can only dream of constructing such a world, a set of characters, a piece of writing. One of my favorite pieces by her is from The Tales of Beedle the Bard called “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” originally featured in the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. JK Rowling was able to construct her own fairytale in the vein of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, which is both entertaining and teaches its readers morals like humility and greed. It is prose poetry in the truest, most sincere form; simply breath-taking.

JK Rowling is an unending source of inspiration for me, not only within her actual writing, but as a writer in general. When Harry Potter was rejected by agents and editors (I bet you’re kicking yourselves now, eh?), she never gave up. She pressed on and became one of the best selling authors of all time. She’s a class act, a remarkable woman, and one helluva talented writer.

Since March is Women’s History Month, I wanted to take a moment to honor JK Rowling because, for this man, JK Rowling is a woman to aspire to.

The Hunger Games Brings Out All the Bigots (and Many Are Teens)!

Posted by Dhonielle Clayton On March - 27 - 2012

 The Hunger Games Brings Out All the Bigots (and Many Are Teens)!The Hunger Games made a dynamic showing this past weekend and most fans seem to be generally pleased with the adaptation of the book to the big screen. They’ve praised the director and those involved with the film for its adherence to many pivotal elements of the book. But in the midst of excitement and great press for YA books, a nasty cloud looms.

A friend sent me an article from Jezebel about all of the racist posts and tweets about the characters of Rue and Thresh from District 11 (Read about these idiot racists more here). The tweets aren’t for the faint of heart and sound like they are snippets taken from some backwoods, Jim Crow bar before a Klan rally. I am horrified and disgusted and, frankly, PISSED!

These particular fans claim that neither Rue nor Thresh were written as black characters. They hated the movie because of it. They don’t believe black actors and actresses should have these dynamic, pivotal, and heart-breaking roles (especially Rue). Maybe they can use this argument with the character of Cinna, who isn’t completely racialized by Collins. But if these fans paid attention to Suzanne Collins’ text, they would discover that she did, indeed, write them as black characters. She was even quoted as saying that Rue and Thresh were African-American.

But I have to admit that even some of my like-minded, YA-savvy friends emailed me after the casting for The Hunger Games came out and said, “Was Rue really BLACK?” And then I had to re-think the plot and characters and remember this fact. I, myself, had forgotten. This is a huge problem that I will return to.

In my copy of the book, Rue is first mentioned when Katniss is watching recaps of The Reapings in other Districts. Rue is described as, “… a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor” (45). And the other tribute is described as “the boy from District 11, Thresh, has the same dark skin as Rue, but the resemblance stops there. He’s one of the giants, probably six and a half feet tall …” (126).

Gale and Rue from THE HUNGER GAMES movie The Hunger Games Brings Out All the Bigots (and Many Are Teens)!Perhaps this line is missing from the racists’ books. Perhaps I am wrong and can’t read very well. Perhaps the millions of fans who’ve come to defense of Rue and Thresh and the actor and actress who play them are somehow delusional.

I was so happy that Suzanne Collins created characters that looked like me with hair just like mine. I was so happy that Suzanne Collins populated her world with all types of human beings so that each teen reader could find their “future” self on the page. She could’ve made them all-white and no one would’ve blinked.

But I can’t help thinking: Did Suzanne Collins drop the ball with her minority characters by not reminding readers that they were minorities or non-white?

Should writers remind readers of what characters look like, even if it’s not pertinent to the narrative?

Crazy questions, right?

Rue doesn’t really come back “on-stage” in the narrative until page 184, when she saves Katniss while she’s in the tree by pointing the the nasty wasp nest. She isn’t described physically anymore for the entire book. We are supposed to remember the sweet, little brown girl who was mentioned as looking similar to Prim during The Reaping. We are supposed to remember that she is brown. Even when Rue chomps on leaves to make a paste for Katniss’s knee and they help each other survive for a little while, there isn’t another mention of her color. Not even when she died.

Did Suzanne Collins stumble?

Should she have continued to remind us through slight-of-hand ways that Rue was a little brown kid? Would these reminders have kept Rue as an “outsider”?

Did Katniss’ relationship with Rue progress as most human relationships do — beyond race?

Did we forget Rue was brown because Katniss forgot and it became irrelevant?

Did Rue’s race become obsolete as they were both trying to survive?

 The Hunger Games Brings Out All the Bigots (and Many Are Teens)!After subjecting myself to reading through the racist tweets and vile rhetoric lodged at the two characters, I found myself wondering more deeply why do “we” (people living in a Eurocentric culture) assume that if a character is not described in detail and/or racialized as an “other” that he or she is white? Last year, Teen Writers Bloc surveyed a smorgasbord of black writers about this very question. But I still can’t figure it out.

I have no answers.

I just know that I don’t want anyone to forget the color of my characters. I don’t want their color to be overlooked. I just want their particular color to not be held against them.

As a writer, this whole uproar scares me about the potential of non-white YA characters to soar on the big screen or on the page in a big, splashy way. Can brown and yellow and red and black kids go to outer space or through the wardrobe or to a magical school or any other cool place and bring in money to the box office like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter? Or move books off the shelves in such quantities?

Do my characters stand a chance? Or will there always be racial epitaphs lodged at them?

What do you think? Did Suzanne Collins drop the ball? Should she address the controversy?

Get educated on the characters of the Hunger Games. Check out this article!

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Midnight Showing of The Hunger Games

Posted by Dhonielle Clayton On March - 23 - 2012

Corey katniss ring Midnight Showing of The Hunger GamesA few of us at Teen Writers Bloc stayed up late to grapple with lines and crowds just to see The Hunger Games at midnight. At the Court Street Theatre in Brooklyn, the line wasn’t too bad when we arrived at 10:00 p.m., but soon thereafter it exploded and wrapped around the block. The crowd was thick with people of all ages and nationalities and racial groups. I didn’t see anyone dressed as characters from the trilogy, but some jackass showed up as a wizard from Harry Potter, complete with a wand!

At 11:10 they let us crowd into the theatre and made us travel all the way up to the 9th floor by escalator. Once at the top, we waited a little more until 11:35 and then they let us pile into the theatre. Everyone (including me) proceeded to run for seats.

In the theatre, every seat was taken and everyone was on their best behavior. I was nervous that there would be talking during the film or general debauchery, but these were dire-hard fans who wanted to see every frame and hear every word. Although my nerves were fried, I was able to settle in and enjoy the film. I thought the world of Panem was captured wonderfully: the crazy costumed people in The Capitol, District 12, the wilderness of the game site, the other tributes (especially Rue). I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the theatre when poor Rue was killed.

I don’t have much to say about the actual film. I was super-impressed and liked the way they let the story unfold. If I had to find a note of criticism, it would be that Gale was a more attractive than Peeta and, thus, it was distracting. I kept thinking, When are we going to see Gale again? I loved Peeta in the books, but he just didn’t look as lovely as Gale on the big screen.

Go see the film. Our New School Lit professor David Levithan was the editor on this series and it’s just a treat. I may never go to a midnight showing again because I have barely recovered from being out until 3:30 a.m., but it was quite the experience!

Photo Credit: Corey Ann Haydu’s wonderful friend Meghan bought her the Katniss ring, which is featured in the picture above.

Mermaid Jolante Flickr Guest Blogger Jean Paul Bass Investigates The Lure (and Lore) of the SeaThe year 2011 was hyped by many as the year mermaids would dethrone vampires as the reigning monarchy of YA paranormal fiction. USA Today proclaimed mermaids were going to be the next big thing and even mentioned the vampire queen herself, Stephenie Meyer, was working on her own spin of the mermaid genre.

So, where are all the mermaids? While there was a school of mermaid YA titles published in 2011 and a small herd swimming to bookstores in 2012, I have yet to see the genre live up to the hype. Publishers seem to be focusing their attentions on the tried and true, vampires, ghosts, and angels, when it comes to paranormal YA fiction.  A quick look at Barnes & Noble’s list of the top selling paranormal YA novels reveals that vampires still dominate. In fact, I was unable to find a single mermaid novel on the entire list. Over in fantasy, dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and tales involving the supernatural or high fantasy such as Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series are the bestsellers, with mermaids nowhere to be found.

Are readers not ready to give up their beloved vampires? Or is the market just not delivering the goods? There are plenty of readers who love a good mermaid tail* (the year 2011 saw the introduction of a magazine and convention devoted to mermaids), but it’s still a small niche. Perhaps publishing houses are finding it difficult to widen the appeal of mermaids or maybe YA readers just aren’t that into tales from the sea.

While I would welcome a change from the blood suckers that currently rule the YA roost, I’m not convinced mermaids are what’s next. To me, mermaids seem a little too fantastical for today’s YA readers. Maybe when the Disney-fied mental image most YA readers probably conjure up at the mention of mermaids loses its impact, readers will be able to take the genre more seriously. Vampires have had centuries to develop their cool, from Bram Stoker’s iconic Count Dracula to Anne Rice’s genre-busting Interview With A Vampire.  So, until then, I can’t agree that mermaids are the new vampire, but they are definitely washing up on shore**** more often. In an interview with Susan Marston of the Junior Library Guild, she mentions that novels featuring half-mermaids will be a popular trend for 2012. And a half-mermaid is nothing to shake your trident at, right?

*Pun very much intended. I’ll try to scale** back on punning from now on.

**Get it? Alright, alright. Starting now, I promise: fin*** to bad puns.

*** Okay, starting now.

**** Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Bio: Jean-Paul Bass recently decided to quit her job to focus on writing full-time and she swears she doesn’t miss having a regular paycheck at all.  She is currently working on her M.F.A. in fiction at The New School and is writing a memoir about growing up in Cleveland, Ohio.   

Photo Credit: Flickr — Jolante

Professor Shaw? The Other Side of the Red Pen

Posted by Steven Salvatore Shaw On March - 1 - 2012

britney spears shaved head headlines Professor Shaw? The Other Side of the Red PenShaw. Professor Shaw.

That’s my new title. Okay, well technically my title is Assistant Professor Shaw, but Professor sounds so much cooler. I can finally thank The New School for that master’s degree — that $40k piece of paper that hangs on my freshly painted bedroom walls. It feels good.

I’ve known for many years now that I wanted to teach. That’s half of the reason I decided to go to The New School (the other half was to improve my writing so that I could get an agent and get published. Ahem … Earth to agents. This is for you. Ahem!), so it’s nice to know that I am finally teaching.

Where: The College of New Rochelle.

What: Writing 102: Critical Research Essay

When: Why am I telling you this? So you show up and slaughter me on my way to class?

It’s a required freshman writing course geared towards showing students how to write a well-developed research paper.

Typically, the thought of writing is one that makes students want to scream. So you could imagine what writing a research paper must do to them. That’s why I’ve decided to take a mass media/pop culture spin on the proceedings.

What do Facebook, Britney Spears, Suzanne Collins, South Park, Saved by the Bell, Modern Family, People Magazine, The New York Times, Drake, Lady Gaga and Beyonce, Don Henley, Chuck Klosterman, Dove, United Colours of Benetton, and many, many more pop culture references have in common?

They’re all a part of my class.

Example: On the second day of class, we listened to a few songs about fame and media influence, like Drake’s “Headlines” and Lady Gaga’s “The Fame.” My first essay assignment had my students compare Britney Spears’s “Piece of Me” to Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” and discuss what each says about the media’s influence. I’m also having them read Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games because of what it says about our reality TV-obsessed culture. (Does anyone think Hunger Games is basically one giant commentary on Britney’s head-shaving, paparazzi-umbrella-attacking breakdown?)

Not your typical run-of-the-mill writing course, eh?


It’s weird being on the other side of the red pen. But it’s natural. I come alive during class time, and I live to create assignments. My goal is to foster a fun learning environment that provokes discussions that ignites my students’ creativity, hopefully gives them ideas for their writing, and helps them dive deeper into their own thoughts. Last week, I had them read a study on online gender-swapping. Then I had them use Facebook to study a member of the opposite sex and write a few paragraphs on gender construction.

I’m employing everything I’ve learned in my career as a writing student (and that of a writing tutor) to kick ass as Professor Shaw.

We’re entering the fourth week of classes, and so far I have a wonderful group of students who really seem to respond to the material. We have our first writing workshop on Monday.

Stay tuned for more stories and lessons from The Other Side of the Red Pen as they develop!

Photo Credit: The Daily News and New York Post

pixel Professor Shaw? The Other Side of the Red Pen

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