Write on the Sound author holds workshop just for teens
Benjamin Percy, author of “The Wilding” and “Red Moon,” held a workshop for teens last Friday afternoon as part of the Write on the Sound writers’ conference Oct 4-6. This was the 28th year of conference presented by the City of Edmonds Arts Commission.
Percy’s workshop topic was “The Indelible Image: Moments Make Movies, Moments Make Stories.” He referred to many unforgettable scenes from movies, but especially the “fantastically orchestrated” train station shoot-out scene from “The Untouchables,” in which Kevin Costner’s character, an FBI agent, must somehow save the baby carriage and ambush Al Capone in the same moment.
Percy said he often “channels that scene” when he writes. With careful detail, he described to the high schoolers how to capture critical moments in writing. “These are the scenes of a movie that you can’t get out of your mind 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 years later,” he explained, “the moments you’ll try gaspingly to recount to your friends at the coffee shop.”
“I was on the edge of my seat listening to him,” said Sienna Votry, a home-schooled 11th-grader. Votry, like many of the other students in attendance, is working on her own novel and found Percy’s presentation dynamic and relevant.
Percy shared his method of recalling vivid memories from his own life experiences and laying them out in his mind like you might lay out a photo collection. “Reap the images,” he suggested, “and then divorce them from life; give them a new construct.” Percy showed the young writers how to use timing and pacing in their writing to make these indelible images the set-pieces of their own writing.
Present at the workshop were students from Edmonds-Woodway, Meadowdale, and Mountlake Terrace high schools, EdCC’s Running Start program, and a couple of home schoolers. All gave Percy great reviews. Timing of the workshop was good, since many of them will be working on novels during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November.
Benjamin Percy spoke on Saturday at the Edmonds Theater as the keynote speaker for the Write on the Sound conference, to a sold-out crowd who appreciated his masterful use of language, his dark humor, and, of course, his deep theater voice.
Percy’s time here in Edmonds was greatly appreciated and it was a real treat to meet the man in person. His two novels are available at the Edmonds Bookshop. To hear Percy read an excerpt from Red Moon, visit the Esquire magazine blog.
Photo caption: Benjamin Percy with Edmonds-Woodway High School students Jackie Kobal, Belinda Schmitz, and Dorian Grimes
– Story and photo by Kim Votry