Wordsmiths SketchMakers
Hello, and welcome to Wordsmiths SketchMakers! During this session we will work as a group and write three stories in a 2-hour session, about 30 minutes each.

Each story we write will have a different process for completion, but each process will have the same steps. The various ways are listed below and will be chosen at each group session – one process for each sketch. We will be open to suggestions for new ideas on completing the stories.

Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Location: Windsor Branch Library
5833 Westminster Dr., Austin, TX
Library Phone: 512-974-9840

The Steps:
1- Brainstorm (3 minutes max – 1 minute per category)

a. Characters
b. Settings
c. Topics

2- Write a 1st Draft (15 minutes max)

a. Where is are character and what are they doing there?
b. What did the character want?
c. Who or what conflicts with the character?
d. How does it end?

3- Revisions (15 minutes max)

a. Organize – Ask questions “how and why” to make sense of everything.
b. Word Choice – Find words we can make more active and visual.
c. Title – Discover the main idea of the sketch and make it the title.

The Processes
1- Straightforward

a. Go through the steps as written using any character you want, real/pre-existing or new.

2- New and Fun

a. Go through the steps, but only allowed to use new and fun characters/settings. I.e. “Biderman” instead of “Spider-Man”

3- Google Picture

a. Group chooses a topic, then someone is selected at random to choose a number between 1-30. Google Image search the topic and use the image that corresponds to the chosen number as a prompt for the sketch.

4- Disorientation

a. After brainstorming, group splits into 3 smaller groups. Each group writes a different step for the 1st Draft, then put it together and use revision skills to make sense of it.

5- News Headline

a. Three fairly recent news headlines will have a number written on the back. Group votes on a number without knowing the corresponding headline (blind selection). Group writes about headline (number) with most votes.

6- Superhero

a. Group chooses a topic, and brainstorms super-characters. Group then pick two super-characters; one hero and one villain. Include both characters and, for example, write about what the hero does to save the day -or- what the villain does to stay free. Open to different plots.

7- History and Mythology

a. Group takes a historical event, or a myth, and comes up with a different way of how it came about. Ex: How the Titanic was made, how a unicorn got its horn, how we became an independent country, etc…

8- Aliens

a. Group writes about an alien character visiting Earth for the first time. What is the alien’s history and what does it think and witness as its first time on Earth? Open to different plots.

9- Inventions

a. Group uses topic chosen during brainstorming step and writes about a character that makes an invention to help selected topic.

10- Moral of the Story

a. Group brainstorms moral lessons instead of topics, then proceed to create a story around that moral. I.e. “the truth shall set you free”, “be grateful in this moment, it’s all there is”, “your heart is your best compass”.

11- Musical

a. Group writes a musical based on topic selected during brainstorming step. Songs (lyrics and music) would be written at a later date by the group or a musician (whichever more available).

12- Horrific

a. Group brainstorms horrific moments instead of topics. It could be the smallest horror to the biggest horror; from someone taking the last doughnut, to someone losing their head.

13- Dialog

a. Group chooses 3 lines of dialog that are the only lines used in the entire sketch.

Once the sketches are written, we will begin discussions of producing the sketches within the next month. Producing will likely be a separate 3-hour session, at least.

I’d like to start a YouTube channel for this activity. I intend on anyone who helped write the sketches, or completely new people, will meet back up in a couple of weeks to film the sketches. The filming should be very basic with minimal angles and such, and we will use whatever equipment available to us. Think of it like SNL.

We will make and bring our own costumes, props and set pieces. If the location is something real and doable, we can try to shoot there, otherwise we just find a space and make do. It’s not about quality at this point, it’s all about experience, entertainment and collaboration.

The goal of this regular workshop is to exercise our minds and brain muscles and to produce fun/funny short sketches for the web. The workshop will also provide participants the opportunity to learn/enhance skills including, but not limited to, writing, sound/camera, directing, acting, etc… Individuals cast as Lead Characters will only be allowed to be a Lead in one sketch, so as to give others a chance to shine, if they want. In the end, the idea is to allow everyone the opportunity to dabble in whatever interests them.

Once the sketches are produced and final, the video will go through a very quick post-production process. Again, the final product is not necessarily about quality, but about content. The timeline for publishing on YouTube and sharing via social media should take place no later than 2 weeks from filming date.

The total time it should take to create and film each session should range from 4 to 6 weeks. This will be a great new way to have fun, make films, network and entertain.

Also, I would like to push where this idea originated from, so that the program can be spread. The program is organized by the Paramount Theatre and associated with the AISD’s Literacy to Life Program. A process similar to this one is done with 3rd graders at their elementary school. It’s great for the kids and their future, and I believe many adults could also use something like this. Bonus point: if participating parents get a lot out of this, they are encouraged to help find ways/solutions to get this program started at their child’s school.

Find out more here.

Watch videos of Story Wranglers performing stories written by third graders here.