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Young Writers:
Virtual Creative Writing Summer Camp for Teenagers

June 20: Introduction

The American Center in Moscow welcomes you at the free virtual creative writing summer camp for teenagers “Young Writers”! We appreciate your interest in the programming and hope you will enjoy this camp. Our instructors are well-known experts in creative writing, and they are looking forward to learning more about your ideas and achievements during creative writing sessions. Here you can learn more about the schedule of the course and assignments, that you will need to submit to accomplish this camp successfully. 

In-class slides: Introduction >>

Meet your instructor Damien Shuck. Damien is currently an English Language Instructor at Fort Hays State University where he teaches courses in business networking and global business perspectives. His book of poetry, The Drowning Room, won the 2013 New American Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in multiple reviews and literature magazines. Damien Shuck is a former English Language Fellow in Shenyang, China and former Peace Corps Volunteer in Chongqing, China.

What about your project excites you?

“I am excited to expose young writers to contemporary examples of poetry and fiction that they may not have read before. Early in a writing career, there is sometimes a moment when a writer and a particular story or poem connect and from this moment on, the writer’s perspective, sense of freedom and possibilities for their own writing change forever. For me, this moment was the first time I read Dean Young’s poetry. I hope one of the works I have chosen connects with a student the same way. My goal is that several of my students this summer will go on to win Nobel Prizes in literature. In fact, I am pretty certain that they will.”

Is there a resource or idea/tip you would like to share with other educators?

“Creative writing is a wonderful tool to increase student motivation and help them produce extensive written work. An excellent book on teaching poetry specifically is, Teaching the Art of Poetry: The Moves by Baron Wormser. I would also encourage teachers to be familiar with contemporary short stories and poetry to share with students. Often, language students are only exposed to classics of English Literature and do not have the opportunity to experience modern language, topics and forms of artistic expression from contemporary writers and poets that they may connect with.”

June 21:

Meet with a young Russian writer Irina Lutsenko. Irina is a passionate and dynamic English teacher with 16 years of experience, Fulbright FLTA alumna, active blogger discussing questions of studying abroad and learning foreign languages. This summer, she is running a free 6-module creative writing project “Your Creative Summer” in her VK group, where a team of experienced creative writers guides the participants through creative writing with the help of their own stories.

June 22 - July 6:

Please find your study materials and links to your assignments below:

Watch the video: Plot

In-class slides: Plot

Read the story: Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

In-class writing task: If you’d like to share the plot for the picture story you wrote in class, post it on this page.

Assignment (for June 23)

1) Write a 200-250 word story. Your story should start the following way: You and your two best friends are walking in the forest. You find a box of gold. One of you does not want to share …

2) In your story, use all elements of the plot structure: introduce your characters and setting, start a conflict, add rising action, resolve the conflict in climax, and provide resoluton (what happens to the characters?)

Watch the video: Characters

In-class slides: Characters

Read the story: Thank You Ma’am by Langston Hughes

Assignment (for June 24): 

1) Write a 250 word story. Your hero is eating breakfast in a restaurant when a known super villain walks in, sits down at the same table and asks for help…

2) In your story, you will need a plot (introduction, conflict, rising action and climax).But also think about how to describe and develop your super hero and villain. Make us care for your super hero. Make us feel something about the super villain, sorry for them, like them, or hate them — choose one.

Watch the video: Setting

In-class slides: Setting

Read the story: Sunday in the Park by Bel Kaufman


1) 300 words. Finish the story you started in class (about the kidnapping of a singer). How did you find the singer? What clues do you find to show you the way? Include the details of each location you go to.

2) Give feedback to the people in your mini-group on their stories. Write down three specific things you like about the story. And two things that, if you wrote the story, you would change.


Watch the video: Conflict

In-class slides: Conflict

Read the story: Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver


1) Choose a conflict (watch today’s video on Conflict, if you haven’t’ yet), write it down. Then think of a popular fairy tale (Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Baba Yaga, Ivan and the Grey Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood). Whose one character from the story and write their name down. You can’t change the type of conflict and the character that you wrote down — this will be your challenge!

2) Write this character’s story starting two years after the end of the fairy tale. Use the conflict that you chose and wrote down and make it BIG, let it drive your story. Including references to the original fairy tale into your story would be helpful.


Watch the video: Point of View

In-class slides: Point of View

Read the stories:

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

The Dinner Party by Mona Gardner


1) 300 words: You are at your best friend’s wedding. Something goes terribly wrong, and someone ruins the wedding. Tell the story from different perspectives: 1 — Your friend’s perspective; 2 — The perspective of the person who ruins the wedding; 3 — Your perspective. Make sure all the perspectives are different and see the same things in a different way.

Watch the video:  Motivation and Symbolism

In-class slides: Motivation and Symbolism

Read the story: Sticks by George Saunders


1) 300 words: Your character has to do something terrible. What is the motivation? Why do they do this thing? Do they feel bad? If so, how do they cope with it? If they don’t feel bad, how did they justify it and why? Reveal all this in your story.

Watch the video: Tension

In-class slides: Tension

Read the story: August Heat by William Fryer Harvey


1) 300 words: You are 12 years old, several children from your school were missing from class today. First one, then two, now five children are missing. One your walk home you see… Create tension in your story using some of the techniques that you saw in the video lecture and we discussed in class.

Watch the video: Metaphors and Poetry

In-class slides: In-class slides: Image, Metaphor and Poetry

Read the story: TBD


1) Write a poem about someone important in your life. Do not use any abstract words (like love, care, fear, hate, enjoy, soul, passion, compassion, faith – none of these). Only use concrete images to relay information. Make the reader experience your true ideas and feelings. Don’t be “deep”, just help the reader experience your actual feelings and understand your topic. There is no requirement about the length of the poem, you can make it as short or as long as you need.

2) Start looking at your best story that you’ve written during the camp over the weekend. Edit it, rewrite it, make it great!

Watch the video: Editing

In-class slides: Editing and Rewriting

Read the story: All the Mermaid Wives by Gwendolyn Kiste

Assignment: TBD

Final Readings: TBD

Assignment: TBD

Learn. Connect. Produce.

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