Teen Writer! 2021: A Reflection

by Gina Catanzarite, Teen Writer! Director

People ask me all the time what campers should expect if they attend the Teen Writer camp. Is it about formulas for plot development… guidelines for dialogue… tips for characterization… rules of grammar?

Well, sure, I guess it’s about those things. I’d say, though, that what’s really unique to this camp is how we go about learning those things. What sets Teen Writer camp apart from a literary fiction classroom at school, or a writing tutorial students can find online or in a trade magazine, is best summed up by this quote:

“We should always endeavor to wonder at the permanent thing,
not the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun,
not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake,
and wonder more at the earth.” – GK Chesterton

In order to write realistic and compelling fiction, writers must include realistic and compelling details. The fiction must be so finely crafted that it transports the reader to another world.

In this Teen Writer camp, we learn about filling our fiction with realistic and compelling details by going out into the world on Writers’ Field Trips, to observe and appreciate the world and its people for all of their glories, all of their flaws, all of their eccentricities, and challenges, and beauty.

In short, we learn to wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.

The magic of well-written fiction happens at a molecular level. Writers can learn the rules of grammar, but must open themselves up to experiencing and wondering at the world around them before they can hope to capture and convey those emotions and sensory details on the confines of a typed page. Fiction becomes “fantastic” when a writer is fully living. And so I invite you, this year’s Teen Writers, to indulge your sense of wonder about the vibrant and imperfect and wonderful world around you.

When done mindfully, “writing” and “living” are pretty darn similar adventures!

All my best wishes –

Gina Catanzarite, Director/Instructor
Teen Writer! Program


Check out these Book Recommendations by our 2021 Teen Writers!

Orli: Any book with “Hercule Poirot” by Agatha Christie
Kabir: “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkein
Emma: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
Havana: “Sad Perfect” by Stephanie Elliot
Michelle: Any (good) poetry book. I like “Pillow Talks” by Courtney Peppernell
Audrey: “Infinite Noise” by Lauren Shippen
Carola: Harry Potter series, specifically “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling
Addison: “Echo” by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Maggie: “Dewey the Small-Town Library Cat who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron