A young boy giving George Washington a surprise birthday party, a young woman breaking the barriers of baseball during the 1920s, or mysterious jazz music playing in an apartment during the Jazz Age. These are just a few examples, of how young writers bring history alive through writing. Centering stories around a period of history they have studied, young writers have the opportunity to take a visit back in time. Through discussions on all-important details writers work on bringing their stories alive. By talking about reactions to different emotions, they develop a feel for how someone a hundred years ago may have bitten their nails or gotten sweating palms when they were nervous in certain situations.
Through lessons on dialogue students learn to use it to reveal their character’s personality and reactions to people and situations. Students will learn that editors are there to help them, not to frustrate them. We talk about revision and editing and how both are very important in the writing process. Diane will meet with teachers to discuss the time period students will be writing about and any elements they would like emphasized. After students have spent five days writing their creative time period stories, they will have the opportunity to share the characters and stories they have created. It is a day of bringing the past alive and meeting interesting characters, such as a World War ll solider and his dog or a young lady who spied for the Patriots during the American Revolution.
Diane has enjoyed creating short stories with hundreds of young writers. Combining her love of history and writing, she was written several creative nonfiction books including Side By Side a story about Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, which was a finalist in the 2017 Best Books Awards. She has been a finalist twice in the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition; in 2017, with “Called Home” a Vietnam Era story about two young Marines from Raleigh, NC, and in 2022 with “Not for the Faint of Heart,” a story about a young woman from Tarboro, NC who served with the American Red Cross during the Vietnam War. Diane has also worked as a news director, speech writer, and freelance writer. Diane strives to the take any anxiety out of writing for students using the same organizing process she uses in her own writing. For instance, she unrolls pages of edited work from one of her picture books to emphasize the importance of editing and rewriting. At the end of the five-day residency, she loves nothing more than to see the smiles on young writers faces when they share their stories.