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Sharing their creative genius

New Castle High Schoolteenswork feverishly at their laptops or notepads to write their own “origin story” during Thursday’s Creative Writing Club.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

One day four years ago, New Castle freshman Elijah Sherrill asked his teacher, Barry Pratt, if they could start a club for writers.

“One did not exist at that time, so I didn’t see how an English teacher could say no to such a legitimate, serious request,” Pratt said.

Sherrill became the first president of the Creative Writers Club, with Pratt as the sponsor.

The 2019 Creative Writing Club is the largest group so far and has members from all grade levels. This year’s club president is Darla Tinch.

Tinch enjoys writing and getting to share her ideas with other people. As club president, Tinch gives the other students a writing prompt each meeting and challenges them to knock out a short story in under an hour.

“I try to let the club members run the club as much as possible,” Pratt said. “Normally, the club members do creative writing activities they come up with and enjoy doing as a group and then share what they have written. Sometimes members share writing they have done on their own.”

Thursday’s idea this week was for each teen to write a paragraph about their own personal origin story. Not necessarily the biological way they came into this world, but the things that led them to where they are today.

Junior Misty Smith joined the club for the first time this year because she hopes it will help with her graphic novel series.

Freshman Rebekah Schmeisser, another new face in the club, has a lot of ideas for a book and hopes this program will help flesh those ideas out.

Allie Holcomb has been a member of the writers club since it started. Holcomb originally joined the club because she was planning to major in English.

Then she realized how fun the club was.

Holcomb’s stories are typically short stories in the Young Adult (YA) genre. Holcomb doesn’t have any repeating characters yet, mainly because she kills them off if she doesn’t like what’s happening in the story.

She has some advice for other aspiring writers.

“Just try and write every day, even if it’s just a little bit. Always practice it. It’ll help in a long way,” Holcomb said.

Pratt said some of the Creative Writers Club members have read aloud short stories, a novel in progress, a piece of nonfiction or a poem they have written.

The club also introduces the young writers to resources like websites and literary magazines that teach them about the industry.

Pratt plans to have a published writer speak to the club to share the process she went through to get published and, later, to take the students to see a play at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

“Writing helps high school students in all school subject areas, in getting and retaining jobs, on college applications, and when communicating with friends and relatives,” Pratt said. “Additionally, writing can help high school students entertain and persuade others.”

The Creative Writers Club meets twice a month on Thursdays in Pratt’s classroom as soon as the final bell rings.