In September I added a high school creative writing class to my plate, this time as an elective. Seven students signed up—all guys.
My word, what a great group. They’re bright, motivated, and loaded with ideas. I get to play the part of the Published Author. They’re secretly a little thrilled that I’m sharing my writing strategies with them. We discuss story structure and such … and sometimes I show movies to make my points. (When I played the beginning of Star Wars, there was this collective gasp of happiness.)
So … they’ve turned in stories involving war, mayhem, and chases involving awesome sportscars. We’ve had bombings at the mall, laboratory explosions, sniper fire, and kidnappings. If there are parents, they die. (Sorry. Blame Disney.) What we haven’t had much of is Romance. Where the girl survived, that is.
Several weeks ago I changed things up. We discussed Chick Lit, the parameters of the modern Romance novel—including the one-month shelf life of a category romance, which was an eye-opener to them!—Harlequin’s subscription service, and Nicholas Sparks. And then I put the hammer down: a six-page Romance story was to be written by each of them.
“Not a thriller, war adventure, or mystery,” I told them. “A Romance. When you catch yourself straying into a favorite (male-oriented) genre—(dramatic pause)—repent!” Ha. I teach in a Christian school. They grinned.
They were also instructed to bend the rules of good writing. This means I want …
• Plenty of adjectives (A brawny, muscular arm. Voluptuous, kissable lips)
• Too many adverbs
• A couple of “Swifties” (just this once)
• That sweep-me-away title
• And a PG level rating (since I will be reading the stories aloud)
During today’s ten-minute freewriting session, pens were scratching. There was male-style giggling, too. No, better make that cackling!
“Entertain yourself first,” I remarked, ever the teacher.
Trevor looked up from the page. “Oh, I AM,” he said, with a wide grin. “I’m loving this! He just broke up with her, and she ran screaming from the room!”
Well okay then. This should be something. I’ll keep you posted.