As school winds down this week and summer begins, it’s easy for kids to join their local swim team or find a sports clinic or art camp, but what is there for the young writer who wants to nurture his craft? Western Connecticut State University has an answer. The university is holding a Young Writers Conference that offers writing workshops for students in grades 7 – 12, all taught by published writers. Workshops are held in a variety of genres, such as Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Poetry, Sports Writing, Short Story Writing and Writing the College Admissions Essay.
“The purpose of the program is to support and encourage young writers,” said conference director Lynne Paris-Purtle. This is the conference’s fourth year. Paris-Purtle, a WCSU writing professor, got the idea to start it from her own experience growing up as an aspiring writer. “Everyone said, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ We want to reach out to and support these kids and show them that there are people who value what they do.”
The workshops are kept small in order to encourage students to have a personal relationship not just with the instructor, Paris-Purtle said, but with other kids in the group. In fact, in the past, she said students have gone on to set up writing groups and continue to meet on their own. One of the exciting parts of the conference is that each student has the option to contribute to the 2012 conference journal, which will be compiled and published after the conference ends. Students can list the work as a publishing credit on their budding writing resumes.
New workshops this year include: Writing Fantasy and Sci/Fi, the Novel and Writing for Online Publications. The Sci/Fi and Fantasy workshop is the result of numerous requests and it will be taught by Oscar De Los Santos, the chair of the WCSU writing department and an author whose credits include science fiction. “Sci/Fi and Fantasy are hot genres right now. Look at the offerings on the adult and YA bookshelves, as well as the films now playing in theaters. In the past, students were able to dabble in this area, in the context of other workshops. Now we'll devote extensive time to learning how to write and market science fiction and fantasy,” he said. The goals of this workshop will be to “learn key characteristics of science fiction and fantasy, read a few strong pieces and work on our own stories.”
The event is held at the midtown campus from July 9 - 13. Students attend workshops from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The fee is $450 and includes breakfasts and lunches Monday through Friday, a messenger bag, a conference journal, and a journal-signing party in the fall. Registration is ongoing. For more information visit the university website at wcsu.edu/youngwriters, or contact Lynne Paris-Purtle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 837-3215.