This week, Taylor Tyng, father of Quincy, Grade 6, and author of the newly-released Clara Poole and the Long Way Round, stopped by DCD to share his experience with Mr. Thacher’s middle school arts fiction writing class.
Before becoming a writer, Mr. Tyng had been a professional musician, a film editor, an animator, a designer, and a software CEO. He only started writing four years ago, which— he explained to the class of young writers— began rather unintentionally, in telling a bedtime story to his two daughters. Over time, he discovered how much he loved the process of storytelling, and so he developed the stories into the book Clara Poole and the Long Way Round, a middle-grade, round-the-world adventure, and the first in a continuing series.
In explaining his writing process, Mr. Tyng shared with the class that writing and reading did not always come easy to him, and that he learned later in life that he is dyslexic, but that this never stopped him from engaging with stories— he just had to find the ways that worked best for him. For this book, that involved carefully plotting out and organizing the book early in the writing process. He explained his outlining process using notecards with plot events and character changes, and how it helped him to visually build his story by rearranging and replacing the cards. “As a writer, it’s very important to have some idea of where you are going,” says Mr. Tyng, “and to have a structure to it.”
After explaining his writing process, Mr. Tyng led the group of young creative writers in a whiteboard exercise focusing on building a character-driven story. Working together, the group started with the character’s name, created a profile, and a list of complimentary characters, and then started thinking about a story premise. The idea of the exercise was to express how focusing on character builds the most compelling, emotionally engaging stories. By the end of the class, the group had crafted a detailed, compelling character full of unique traits, along with a sibling, a backstory, and ideas for conflict and genre for the potential story— all the pieces they needed to start a story of their own!
For Mr. Tyng, writing this book was a long journey and a new challenge, but one he greatly appreciated. “To try to do something new again is a real joy,” he explained.
We’re grateful for Mr. Tyng’s visit, and for the joy of writing and reading he shared with our students!