WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- More than 250 of the region’s high school writers had the chance to work with the pros – authors of murder mysteries, thrillers, horror stories, stage plays, screenplays and more – at the 28th annual Young Authors’ Conference at Pace University’s Graduate Center in White Plains on Monday.
Sponsored by Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES and hosted by Pace University, the conference brought together published authors and aspiring writers for a day of workshops on such topics as “Think Like a Screenwriter,” “Breaking Bad: Writing Well While Breaking Writing Conventions,” “Find Your Authentic Voice” and “Grab Life with Poetry.”
Amy Belfer, a student at Lakeland High School, said she enjoyed the workshop on "Breaking Conventions."
“In school, you are given rules for very structured essays from kindergarten through high school. So, when you are finally given some freedom, you don’t know what to do because the formula has been drilled into you,” Belfer said. “I wanted to learn how to break out of that bubble and explore writing further.”
Lucy Israel, a Putnam Valley student, said she liked the conference because writing is usually a solitary pursuit. “This conference gives people a chance to feel that they are part of something, which I think is important psychologically,” she said.
In his “Think Like a Screenwriter” workshop, Darrell Swann, a faculty member at the Jacob Burns Film Center, urged students “to steal conversations from real life.” He said it could be difficult to come up with an authentic-sounding conversation when writing unless the students have banked real conversations that they have heard or had themselves in the past.”
Phyllis Glassman, coordinator of professional development for the Pace University School of Education, said “It was amazing what some of the presenters were able to get out of the students in just an hour. Some of the writing was profound.”