Kyle Jensen / The Record — Playwrights, poets and novelists free write to kick start a writing workshop at Freeland Library on Monday afternoon. The workshop is part of Sno-Isle Library’s workshop series Write Now.

Fostering South Whidbey’s writing talent

As pens were scribbling and writers bounced ideas around the room, the next great story out of South Whidbey was possibly taking shape.

That’s at least the hope of the Write Now workshop series through Sno-Isle Libraries. The series, held across the Sno-Isle network, aims to connect both aspiring and published adult writers with each other and hopes to foster local writing talent beyond the student population.

“Whether you’re struggling with page one or have a full manuscript in your hands, be it fiction, children’s nonfiction, or if you just want to write your family’s history, there’s a session for you,” according to the Sno-Isle Libraries website.

Workshops from the Write Now series will continue across the Sno-Isle network through December. There are more than 40 classes in total, with 11 of those held in South Whidbey libraries. Many are still available in November and December, primarily at the Freeland Library. Classes cover a range of topics geared toward adult writers, including retelling old tales, business for writers and keys to reader engagement.

Visit the https://blog.sno-isle.org/bibliofiles/write-now-2017/ for a full list of courses and locations.

At the Freeland Library on Monday afternoon, connecting writers to generate ideas and network with each other was the overarching goal. The workshop, The Writer’s Hangout, gathered novelists, playwrights and poets together to explore how to best articulate their ideas and how to connect moving forward outside of the session. For fiction writer and playwright Teresa McElhinny, the workshop connected her with a portion of South Whidbey’s extensive network of writers after a long time away from the pen.

“I haven’t found the exact niche for me in the way of a critique group after my long sabbatical away from writing, but I hope to find one soon, as I do find those extremely helpful,” McElhinny said. “In the interim, however, these library offerings are quite helpful for me to connect and network with other authors again after being out of the loop. As you know, there are writers all over this island.”

In the workshop, ran by Mill Creek-based freelance editor Madison Seidler, writers picked each other’s brains about whatever piece they were working on, whether a nearly completed story or a rough idea. Seidler gave refreshers on essential writing tips and idea generating practices, from formulating an eight-point story arc to developing characters using notecards. Much of what she covered was big picture writing methods, not geared toward improving writing or style, rather ideas and the story itself.

Sometimes, Seidler said, writers just have to be ready when good ideas come to them. When they do, she suggested writers be ready to jot those down.

“What I do is carry my receipts with me wherever I go, because I’ll write down ideas or sometimes full paragraphs on the back of those receipts using whatever I have on me,” Seidler said. “Since I have two young sons, I have a bunch of ideas scribbled in purple crayon. It still works for me.”

McElhinny says she found the workshop to be a particularly useful tool for Whidbey-based writers in the absence of the Whidbey Island Writer’s Association, which became defunct in 2016. She says she was looking for motivation to complete a novel she started a couple years ago, but has found inspiration tough to come by with the writer’s association now a thing of the past.

Surrounding herself with other opinionated and creative South Whidbey writers helped give her the “kick in the pants” she was looking for.

“It was helpful to start my motivational engine,” McElhinny said. “The open-ended nature of the workshops where the various writers were able to exchange ideas and give feedback was an inspirational aspect appreciated by each and every one of us.”

Kyle Jensen / The Record — South Whidbey writers work on story arc before they bounce ideas off each other and make suggestions.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Instructor Madison Seidler had writers jot down an eight point story arc, which serves as a sort of layout.

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