Creative Writing Workshop for Teens

I am conducting a weekly workshop on Creative Writing this summer. I have been doing this (teaching basic creative writing to both teachers and students) for quite some time and honestly, it’s a bit tiring. For an introvert who does not enjoy hearing her voice aloud, public speaking is quite a struggle. To counter the fatigue, I must make the task exciting for both the participants and myself.

I decided to bring the entire box of Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft as my visual aid. Unfortunately, we can’t play it as each session is limited to three hours. I have to squeeze in short lectures, discussions and writing exercises so to play the game would consume too much time. This school year, I pledged to avoid Power point presentations and instead come up with games, learn tabletop and board games and apply the big list of class discussions. I played The Hobbit, Pandemic Iberia, Catan and DnD with my students so I had a bit of practice. I have tried introducing elements of fiction using Pandemic Iberia to my elective class before. For this workshop, I only focused on three elements: Characters, Setting and Plot. For characters, I introduced the ready-made characters of Castle Ravenloft and some of its monsters and villains (a good way to introduce conflict as well). I also gave them a Character Sheet and asked them to fill out the backstory, features and sketch. They may opt to use the characters from Ravenloft or come up with their own. That’s the first writing exercise.

For setting, I introduced the idea of the Dungeon tiles (if you relate that to world building, the discussion can go and on). Reminded them that setting is not just limited to the place where the story happens, it must or may also be treated like a character, an integral part of story writing. It can help reveal features of you characters, set the mood, atmosphere, backstory, geography, etc. For plot, I used the Encounter cards. They were to read a card aloud as I try to relate each card to tension, objective, challenges, scene, etc.

We quickly discussed a few works by Filipina fictionist before they finally drafted their short story, reading an excerpt aloud and hearing my quick feedback. For session 2, I will be going directly to the poems. I prepared seven poems and will highlight one element of poetry per work.


For session 2, instead of delivering a lecture on the elements of poetry, I wanted to engage the participants in an activity that will allow them to define it. I asked them to read 8 poems and choose a work that they wish to discuss with a partner. They are supposed to have a conversation about the piece then share how the work helped them define poetry. Here were their answers:

The pair who read “Geography Lesson” by Conchitina Cruz concluded that poetry is creating a work that allows readers to be confused in order to be enlightened. At first, they were struggling to understand what the work is doing but everything became clear to them as they reached the end (this was pre-teacher intervention). Another pair, the one who read the version of “Wintering” that was not edited by Ted Hughes, poetry is the practice of concision and exploring contrasts. Plath’s work tried to create contrasting images of male and female bees, spring and survival. After reading “Square Cells” by Jenny Xie, we concluded that poetry uses wordplay and translates a personal experience into something universal. “Sci-Fi” by Tracy Smith helped the participants define poetry as a work that plays with language, imagery and form. Included in the selection are Faye Cura’s “Makiling”, Benilda Santos’ “Noong Araw na Bumili Ako ng Kapirasong Stalactite sa Bundok Banahaw”, and “Another Feeling” by Ruth Stone. We discussed the poems further, and watched a Ted Ex video on Poetry to summarize the discussion.

For their writing activity, they were to write an 8-lined poem. Others were quick to finish so I gave an initial feedback and asked them to revise. Finally, we had a quick workshop where the drafts of the students were flashed on a TV screen so they can share their comments.


The workshop will introduce basic elements of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. It aims to guide participants through a combination of short lectures and writing exercises. Participants will be given readings and prompts to help them draft their pieces. The sessions will also include one-on-one consultations where participants will receive feedback and suggestions on how to revise their works. Activities such as game-based writing (using elements of board games like Pandemic Iberia and Dungeons and Dragons) and zine-making will also be included in the process.

This is April 4, 11, 18 and 25 (every Wednesday), 2018.

Facilitator’s Bio:

Rae Rival teaches creative writing at the Philippine High School for the Arts. Aside from teaching, she also trains her students to produce traditional and do-it-yourself books. Her poems and short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines. In 2013, she won Grand Prize at the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature – Short Story for Children category. In 2014, Adarna Publishing House released “Marvino’s League of Superheroes” (shortlisted for the National Children’s Book Awards – Kids’ Choice Category). She is also the author of “Talak”, a chapbook of essays. Rae co-founded Gantala Press, a feminist literary press and has produced a number of zines. Rae finished her MA in Communication Arts at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos and her Bachelor’s Degree in Literature at St. Scholastica’s College, Manila.

The workshop fee is P 3,800.00 inclusive of materials, handouts, snacks, a certificate, one day free admission to the museum and one day free access to the library. The deadline for reservations is on March 24, 2018. A 5-percent discount will be given to those who pay in full on or before the deadline. Ayala Museum and Acentive members can also avail of a 10-percent discount.

Payments can be made in cash, check, or through credit card.
*Discounts do not apply to credit card transactions.

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