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Lighting the spark of creativity

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An author who calls north Winnipeg home paid a visit to her old neighbourhood to pass on her knowledge of writing to the next generation.

Professional writer Karin Adams, who grew up around the North End, spent the week of Jan. 14 to 18 at St. Aidan’s Christian School, discussing literary technique and character development with the school’s 25 students.

Adams, whose first book, Lights! Curtains! Cows!, was published in 2009, visited the school as part of the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program. It was the first time Adams had taken part in the program.

"I wanted to work more intensely with young writers," Adams said.

When The Times visited the class, Adams was in the midst of a discussion with the students about developing characters for a story, going over everything from their name to their motivations. The group also touched on building mood and establishing the setting of a scene through elaborate descriptions of the environments their characters inhabit.
Adams said she tries to tailor her workshops to each class according to their specific interests or needs.

"I have been doing workshops for years, so I built on the workshops I’ve been doing. I spent a lot of time talking with teachers about what they’re doing in the classroom and what their goals are," Adams said.

For principal Peter Lurvey, Adams’ workshop fits right in with the school’s focus on encouraging and building literacy skills, since those skills are so fundamental to success later on in life.

"Part of it is just because she has a great way with kids," he said of the decision to bring in Adams.

"They’re working on character development, they’re writing stories. They have really good imaginations.

"Our kids need literacy, so we focus a lot on literacy."

Working with the unbridled optimism of young writers, she said, is good for her own creativity.

"I really get to see what they care about, how they express themselves, the way their minds work," Adams said.

"That helps me to create authentic characters of that same age group."

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