Thanks to a grant from the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation, 19 Mt. Vernon High School students experienced a writing workshop from published author, Mike Mullin. Mr. Mullin wrote the Ashfall trilogy and most recently published the book Surface Tension. All students left the “funshop” with the start of their own novel.
One of the beginning activities for the students was to think of an object, like a dry erase marker, and ask the question, “What if?” Students wrote various creative concepts, such as “What if everything it wrote was a lie?, or “What if the marker was the tool in a mysterious murder?”
Mr. Mullin shared that writing with speed promotes creativity. During various exercises throughout the workshop, students could be seen writing furiously, whether on their laptop or pen on paper.
Students were taught that there are two types of writers: a plotter and a pantser. The plotter writer is more analytical and plans out the events of the novel, like J.K Rowling. These authors write thinking, “and then what happens?” Pantser writers are more involved in planning their characters, like Stephen King. Once these authors develop the depth and background of their characters, they write more freely with the characters motivations in mind.
Mr. Mullin stressed that it’s important to find what works for you as an author, and to do more of that. Aspiring authors should read deeply in the areas they want to write about. He shared that it takes approximately 1,000 hours to write a book and many authors write more than 10 books before they become published.
His spontaneous humor was infused throughout the workshop. Mr. Mullin advised that aspiring authors should show their work to people who do not like them, and that they should revise their work obsessively. Mr. Mullin also suggested that aspiring authors should marry someone who has health insurance.
Mt. Vernon High School is grateful to the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation for this grant, and to Mr. Mullin for his time teaching Mt. Vernon’s aspiring authors. Special thanks also to Mrs. Zelencik, the Mt. Vernon High School Librarian, for writing the grant and providing this great opportunity to Mt. Vernon students.