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Uncle Orson's Writing Class
Classroom Writing Activities
April 10, 2002


Question:

I talked to my daughter's teacher about this after I conducted a writing activity in relation to the literature volunteering I do. She said she would like me to do it in the classroom. I said I'd be happy to if I could find out a few details as to how it is accomplished and if you wouldn't mind. I have never been to a session. I remembered you wrote about one in Characters and Viewpoint, and looked it up. It seemed to give me enough information to start on, except that I would feel totally inadequate doing it.

I know programs like this, their methods, etc., can be copyrighted, so I asked Kathleen about it, she seemed to indicate that other educators have taken ideas from it, but she didn't know any specifics as to how to conduct one. May I follow pretty much the outline you showed in Character & Viewpoint and is there any other advice besides what you wrote about it Character & Viewpoint?

-- Anonymous

OSC Replies:

Programs like this can't be copyrighted. People try, of course, but it would never hold up in court.

Fortunately, I not only don't want to copyright the Thousand Ideas, I'd be happy to have lots of people doing it.

The key to what you do in leading such a session is constantly think "else." Someone suggests something, tell them it's great, then say, "What else might happen" or "why else might he have done it?"

The only thing I could actually copyright is the word-for-word riffs I do in the midst of the sessions, and since you don't know what those are, you could hardly use them <grin>. Those riffs are used to convey information I want them to have and to set a relaxed tone in which practically anything can be said. You'll find your own ways to build that. If you look nervous, they'll be nervous and fear they'll do something wrong. So you have to act like it's a game that nobody can lose and everybody will enjoy, and then treat it that way yourself.

And it's OK to think of your own ideas, too. "It could happen because of this." But don't take too long on your own ideas, and always end your own ideas with "but that's just one thing that could happen" or "just one reason she might have done that. What else could it be?"

-- 10 April 2002


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