Popular Mystery Author Leads Workshop in Creating Page-Turners
Many people like to hear a scary story around Halloween-time, but how about creating one? That’s just what Meadow Pond Elementary School students in grades 3 – 5 began, with encouragement from a master of suspense!
“Building Suspense,” a writing workshop with author and Yale University creative writing teacher Elise Broach, gave students an introduction to the step-by-step process of building suspense.
The ebullient writer was loved by her audience before she even started. They were familiar with her books “The Wolf Keeper,” the Superstition Mountain Trilogy, and “Masterpiece”—works which have been selected as Junior Library Guild selections, and include a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book, a New York Public Library Best Book for Teenagers, and an E.B. White Read Aloud Award.
“Suspense is the thread of tension that makes you want to turn the page,” Broach told the students. “Great suspense is a story with big choices and big consequences.” Then, the work began.
“Write a really boring sentence,” instructed Broach. Her example: They walked together down a quiet road.
Students began writing in their notebooks. It was an easy assignment and they had fun sharing how dull their sentences could be.
“Now, add one of the five senses,” said Broach. One step at a time, she guided students to also incorporate time pressure, setting, foreshadowing, and emotion.
“I walked in while Elise was leading the workshop for the third graders and it was amazing,” said Principal Carolann Castellano. “Everyone was adding exciting details to their writing! Students were very engaged and were learning how to create suspenseful stories—it’s also what they love to read.”
“Students were so excited that they continued writing their stories while walking back to their classroom,” said Librarian Nick Grasso.
Broach closed the workshop with a read-aloud of the students’ writing and a Q&A. When asked, she hinted that a new book would be published soon—a classical music mystery featuring a bird and a piano-playing boy!