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So long, summer

Well, folks, this is it. In about 5 minutes, the last Loft Youth Classes of the summer will end, and it will get way too quiet and boring around here.

We’ve loved seeing you every day this summer, young writers! Keep up the good work and don’t stop sending us your best stories/poems/prose/scribble to publish here on the blog.

We’re already hard at work making sure that next summer will be even better than this one, but until then, don’t forget to sign up for fall youth classes and check out the free Teen Novelists’ Conference.


Today in Organize Your Writing

Some kids don’t think that a writing class could be any fun, but here at the Loft, we’re determined to prove how fun and exciting writing can be. Today, we got some great evidence.

This week, teaching artist Holly Day is offering a class called “Organize Your Writing.” Imagine our surprise, then, to see how disorganized–and amazingly creative and fun!–the class looked as they flew paper airplanes around the room today.

A paper hat! How’s that for a way to fill your head with stories?
Photo: Rebecca Schultz, Loft intern

Folding paper airplanes and letting ’em rip!
Photo: Rebecca Schultz, Loft intern


Weak words and other pet peeves

I just took a look at this article by Jeff Goins about weak words, that is, words that don’t work hard enough to make a sentence worthwhile.

You don’t always think about it as you first put words on the page, but when you edit, you should consider whether your words are captivating, descriptive, and original. The French call it the bon mot, the “good word” (sounds better in French, though, doesn’t it?) After all, when you write, words are all you’ve got to do what you want to do.

I would like to add a few more words to Mr. Goins’s list:

1. indescribable
What a lazy adjective! The point of adjectives is to describe, so if you can’t describe something, you might as well not have adjectives at all. You can describe anything if you make a sincere effort to use the vast expanse of your vocabulary.

2. awesome
My problem with the word awesome is not that it’s weak–on the contrary!–but it’s so overused that it has been sapped of its awesome power. Very few things are actually awesome, as in, they actually inspire such awe and disbelief that your jaw hits the floor. The Grand Canyon is awesome. The Milky Way is awesome. Risking your life to do what is right is awesome. Pretty much everything else that you might describe as awesome–your favorite movie, a friend’s outfit, a good grade in school–is merely entertaining, stylish, or impressive.

What are your verbal pet peeves? What words make you think a writer is dull or lazy or both?

Reading a book: exercise?

Do you ever have trouble sitting down to read because you just can’t get comfortable? You’re not alone. In fact, a young woman named Cassidy Tucker made this hilarious YouTube video about the ever-vexing problem of how to read.

And while you’re at it, check out her YouTube channel. She posts reviews of YA books and movies. What a great way to create community around books!

Letters to Hogwarts

If you’re into Harry Potter (so basically, if you’re human)–especially if you’re a mostly grown Muggle who’s still into Harry Potter–you’d probably like this adorable book of kids’ letters to Harry Potter.

Better yet, you might prefer Dear Mr. Potter, a blog-based nonprofit (and book) where fans write letters about how the books changed their lives. What a great idea!

Here at the Loft, we love to see readers interacting with their favorite authors and characters.  Have you ever written a letter to a fictional character? Did he or she write back?

Highlights from All Day Summer Writing Camp

Most Loft youth classes last 90 minutes, five days in a row–but for some kids, that’s just not enough. That’s why we offer an All Day Summer Writing Camp for 9- to 11-year-olds for one week each summer.

It’s a hectic week for us in the office, but it’s a treat, too, because it’s the only week of the summer that we have enough time to get to know our Young Writers really well. Here are a few of the highlights.

Lunch break in Gold Medal Park on a gorgeous day

Visiting the Mississippi River for inspiration for poetry

And our perennial favorite, sidewalk chalk outside of Open Book!



Join the critical mass–of readers!

The Twin Cities are so amazing in the summer that I get overwhelmed. Even with near-solstice extra hours of sunlight, I can’t squeeze enough into each day to take advantage of all of the festivals, events, outdoor movies, and arts and theater that the Mini-Apple has to offer.

This Saturday at the Walker Art Center is one event that I’ll be sure not to miss: a mass Read-In on the Open Field. The event kicks off at 11:00 a.m. with an introduction to Free Little Libraries that have been popping up around town, then book swapping and mass DEAR time, and story time in the afternoon.

I can’t wait to sit and read!