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The Writers’ Room: NEIA’s One-of-a-Kind Class

A look-in at Humanities special elective for 12th-graders.

NEIA offers a lot of one-of-a-kind classes, but Humanities’ TV Writers‘ Room (taught by Head of Teaching & Learning, Camp) might take the cake. 12th-graders, after years of building their critical-thinking skills and strengthening their creative muscles, get to really let loose. Like all great writing workshops, they gather in a circle around one table: everyone as equals, everyone wanting to get better, everyone working toward the same goal.

On Wednesday, they came to class with characters they’d brainstormed. To start class, they were tasked with writing a scene that introduces their character in which the dialog reflects their character’s description. After they’d gotten warmed up, that’s when the real fun began. Like a real TV Writers‘ Room, they are creating something together in real-time. It’s electric and dynamic. People are tossing out ideas and developing themes and narratives in real-time. It’s really a joy to watch.

The next time they met, it was time to sort through all their brainstorming work and decide what the season-long arc of the series was going to be, who the major characters were, which plot was the A story and which plot was the B story, etc. “Remember, we’re looking for human stories,” Camp reminded them periodically when the 12th graders started getting too outlandish with their ideas. Brick by brick, they built this imaginary small town. Suddenly, structure and episode breaks started to form. Somehow, miraculously, this fictional thing now had a heartbeat.

The next step is the hard part: divvying up the work, writing scenes, and bringing themback to the table to edit. The work won’t fall all to one person. They have a Hollywood writers’ room, right here at NEIA.

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