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Friday Memorial Library adds Teen Writers Group to monthly lineup

After having her novel, "Forgetting Him," published last year, New Richmond teen Morgan Ehlenfeldt was more excited than ever to continue writing, but she also felt like there should be a place for teens to safely share their works with other teen writers.

"The Teen Writers Group is an opportunity for teens to write for the fun of it. That is kind of our tagline for it," said Friday Library Youth Services Librarian Jessica LaPean. "Morgan Ehlenfeldt brought this group to me as an idea for something she was interested in doing. She loves writing and just wanted to share that love with other teens."

With the idea for a writing group for teens in mind, LaPean put together a group for teen writers at the Friday Memorial Library that will meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 4 p.m. for a one hour sharing session. The first meeting of the group saw four teens attend, and there were at least three others who had expressed interest in the group but couldn't make it to the first meeting.

"With kids these days being so busy, it is hard to find a time that works for everybody," LaPean said. "So we are more than willing to be flexible on times and dates in order to get as many teens to take part as we can."

The group's next meeting will be held at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the library.

"The idea of the group is to give teens a spot to show what they are writing. Anything that they are writing for fun," LaPean said. "There will be no critiquing unless they want it to be critiqued. It is just a place to share your ideas and your writing, while also encouraging others to write."

LaPean said that pretty much any style or type of writing is allowed during the Teen Writers Group, including poetry, short stories and lyrics for songs.

"We have lots of ideas for writing prompts and story starters," LaPean said. "We have Story Cubes, which is a game that gives the players dice that have pictures on them which the players are then supposed to incorporate into a story, either as a group or by themselves. We also have the magnetic poetry pieces to make poems as well as a storybook card game. The focus of the group is on sharing stories, but if we run through all of their stories before our time is up, we will do some of these activities to get them thinking and being creative."

Although the first meeting saw just a few students show up, LaPean said those students who were able to make it to the meeting were extremely excited to have a space where they could show off their creative side.

"The main thing we want to emphasize is that you can bring in anything you are writing, no matter what it is, to the group and feel safe to share it," LaPean said.

According to LaPean, those interested in coming to the Feb. 8 meeting are encouraged to use the prompt "a blank white wall" as a jumping-off point for a new story, incorporate it into what they are already working on or use the five senses to describe the blank white wall.

"The kids we have had show up at the first meeting had already been writing and had stuff to share," LaPean said. "I'm encouraging kids to bring in anything they have and if they are having problems with a story, they can bring it in and see if the other teens can't help them figure out how to get around those problems in their stories. We will also do some activities with character development to help the kids work on those skills."

With the writers group being meant for teens, LaPean wants to make sure she listens to all of the ideas that come from the teens on what they want the group to be and what they want to do with their hour-long sessions.

"Since the idea for the group came from the teens, I want the group to be what they want it to be," LaPean said. "I want it to be a safe place to share what they are creating, because they have amazing ideas and I want them to know that teens can write books and get published, too. You don't have to wait until you are 40 to publish a book."

Along with giving the kids a chance to share their writings every month, LaPean will also have other prompts and activities for the teens to take part in in order to sharpen their writing skills, including taking part in in NaNoWriMo in November and having themes to each month's meetings, such as the theme of April's meeting being poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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