Writing from the Pen of an Author

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under My Writing

Todd Strasser

Yesterday, Todd Strasser paid a visit to my school for Writer’s Day and, later, to the students in our reading classes for a more intimate writing workshop.This is the second year my school has been lucky enough to host a popular YA author.  (Neil Schusterman presented last year after we completed Unwind.)  Engaging and personable, Strasser literally brought the writing process to life, keeping the students captiviated and involved.  My students were particularly excited to ask questions about the novel we recently completed in Reading Strategies, If I Grow Up. He even promised to name a character after one of my students.  Watch for Tiara in his next book!  🙂

Todd Strasser discussing the writing process with our students

 During his all-school presentation in the auditorium, Mr. Strasser emphasized the importance of writing and reading in the 21st century while humorously depicting his own journey as an author.  Here are a few of the highlights ~

  • Writing is a struggle no matter what the assignment is.  That’s the journey . . . that’s the adventure . . . that’s the challenge.
  • Writers get ideas from either their own experiences or through experiences of those they know.  If they don’t know someone with a particular experience, they research until they do know!!
  • All of Strasser’s books are about “outsiders” because he always considered himself an “outsider.”
  • Revise, revise, revise . . . A piece of writing is never complete.
  • Strasser takes 8 – 9 months to complete a novel.  (this seems short to me!)

During the writing workshop, Strasser created a short story with the students to illustrate the writing process in action  ~

  • Writers write to send a message.  A message is unfolded gradually throughout the course of a story.  It’s all about baby steps . . . that’s what keeps us turning the pages.
  • Subplots are disguised . . . characters who seem “incredibly useless” are often the most significantly important.
  • Good stories are character-driven . . . the plot unfolds not because of outside pressure or force but because of who the characters are.
  • Whatever is happening in a story is not usually what the main character is expecting to happen.
  • Writing and reading go hand-in-hand.  The more we read, the more we are exposed to writing styles.
  • Reading others’ writing validates our own thoughts.

Now where’s my green pen??