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In 2013 when I arrived at the name for the Echo series of high-school English textbooks, my hope was that the books and their stories would reverberate with students throughout their lives. I put great care into researching and writing psychologically complex stories and texts to captivate young people’s imagination.

Natur och Kultur publishers imagined the books would be re-printed a few times before becoming outdated; I determined to make the books as timeless and relevant as possible.

Eight years later, the first book I wrote in the series, Echo Main Issues 5, has been re-printed half a dozen times. I’ve been using the stories and other materials in the books in the classroom ever since, and while the novelty of writing them has worn off, my students’ engagement with them has not. My students are just as interested in the characters and their lives, and find the interactive sections just as compelling.

As the books have gone back to the printers, I’ve made minor corrections. Thanks to the many teachers and students who use the books, the series is still going strong. Do you work with the books? What improvements would you like to see? Please let me know here, or by contacting me at kfrato@yahoo.com. If you have other feedback on the books, please let me know, as well.

My newest book Creative Writing – A Classroom Guide has received an excellent review from the Swedish BTJ journal for librarians. Reviewer Alan Pejkovic writes in Swedish: “I denna korta, tankeväckande handbok ger författaren många goda tips på hur lärare i undervisningen kan använda sig av kreativt skrivande och går igenom hur skriftligt berättande får elever mer intresserade av läsning, förbättrar deras språkfärdigheter och låter dem uttrycka sin personlighet på ett medryckande sätt.” (BTJ-häftet nr 12, 2019)

… which means: “In this short, thought-provoking handbook, the author gives classroom teachers lots of good advice for working with creative writing; he also discusses how telling stories in writing makes students more interested in reading, improves their language skills, and lets them express their personalities –– all in an engaging way.”

Later the review mentions the book’s section on the workshopping process, as well as the writing exercises, which it notes are challenging and can be adapted to various age group (“Boken lägger fram ett antal intressanta, och ganska svåra, skrivövningar som kan anpassas till olika undervisningsnivåer.”).

In addition, the review mentions the attractive, inviting layout (done by Linn Yngborn), and the extra worksheets and resources available through publisher Natur och Kultur’s homepage.  It notes that the book can be used either in the classroom or by individuals, regardless of whether they are beginners or more experience writers.

Please contact me at kfrato@yahoo.com if you have any questions about the book, or how to use it.  And as always, please contact me if you’re interested in a school visit.

My latest book Creative Writing – a Classroom Guide has just been released by Natur och Kultur publishers, Sweden.  The goal of this book is to improve society through helping students understand stories and how to structure them, by applying theory and practise.

In the theory section, I’ve included completely new ways of teaching story writing through conversation theory and the elements of the narrative.  I also include traditional linguistic tools and narrative mechanics, and I reference authors as widespread as Aristotle, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King. The practical section includes detailed suggestions for structuring workshopping sessions, and I also provides guidelines to protect the integrity of student authors (no value judgments or helpful suggestions, etc.).  Instead of traditional writing prompts or exercises, I’ve included eleven writing challenges –– enjoyable tests of skill that you can make as simple or complex as you like, such as the Poetic Language, Character Names, Tempo, Tonic, and Cityscape challenges.

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Creative Writing – a Classroom Guide, by Kevin Frato (Natur och Kultur, 2019). Cover photo: Cecilia Magnusson

The book also offers textual examples from classic works to illustrate each skill or concept, and also includes four sample of student work, to illustrate the rich variety of stories students write.  Along with the text, you’ll also find easy-to-access online materials, including worksheets with clear layouts and more textual examples.

Whether you’re a teacher interested in working with creative writing in the classroom, or looking for new ideas for the work you already do –– or whether you’re a writer looking for a more structured understanding of the process –– this book provides you with a rich variety of practical and theoretical tools of the trade.

Special thanks on this project to my editors Åsa Gustafsson and Desiree Kellerman.

I’m available to lead workshops on this topic (contact me or Natur och Kultur); you can also sign up for one of my classes at Skrivarakademin, Stockholm.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing short stories –– choosing material, structuring narratives, adapting language, editing, and marketing –– there are a few spots left for my weekend short story workshop March 9th and 10th at Skrivarakademin, Stockholm.  Sign up through the link above.  Questions?  Send me a note.

Unfortunately my intro-level course Creative Writing and Narrative Theory is fully booked this term.  My Novel-Development Workshop has one spot left, though though the course started earlier this week.

PS: I’m fortunate enough to have been granted a writing residency this spring, a week in a house on an island near the sea. If all goes well, my latest book with Natur och Kultur (see post under this) will be on its way to press by then, and I’ll be working on other things.

 

Natur och Kultur Publishers passed out this flyer during the Skolforum conference in Stockholm in October, where I lectured on teaching creative writing in the classroom.

The book is slated to be released spring 2019.

Creative Writing_infoblad

On Monday the 29th of October, I’ll be lecturing at Skolforum, Älvsjömässan, Stockholm, on creative writing and its connections to reading. I’ve been giving workshops on this and related topics around the country; this lecture will contain new ideas developed in my various classrooms, and included in my upcoming book Creative Writing – A Classroom Guide, to be published by Natur och Kultur (new release date: February 28th, 2019).

Throughout my years of teaching, writing, lecturing, and researching, I’ve developed what I believe is a breakthrough approach to teaching writing of all types, and creative writing in particular. It explains the underlying rules of various formats based on relationships of those engaged in these virtual conversations.

A special thanks to the teachers at Hedbergska gymnasium, Sundsvall, Rudbecksgymnasium, Örebro, Vägga gymnasieskola in Karlshamn, and Blackebergs gymnasium, Stockholm, Sweden, for their recent responses to key sections of my ideas and methods.

PS: I’ll also be speaking at Engelskaläraren 2019, a conference for English teachers arranged by Kompetensteamet at Westmanska Palatset in Stockholm, February 5th, 2019

It’s been a few years since I organized a workshop with the popular and award-winning American poet Moira Egan, who currently resides in Rome. Luckily for us, Egan will be coming back to Stockholm May 5th & 6th to teach a two-day workshop with me at Skrivarakademin.

Egan is one of the foremost formal poets working in English –– her clever, brutally honest books Bar Napkin Sonnets and Hot Flash Sonnets established her reputation as a sassy neo-classical poet on both sides of the Atlantic.  She’s also a popular workshop teacher –– the reviews of her last workshop here in Stockholm were excellent.

The weekend workshop will focus on combining ideas with structures –– in short narrative and poetic formats.  The sign-up link for the workshop is here; to answer the question “personlig motivering” or why you want to take the course, simply write that you’re interested in improving your skills.

Hope to see you there!

Thanks everyone who attended and contributed to my recent lecture on teaching creative writing at Natur och Kultur publishers. Upwards of fifty teachers attended in person, while a dozen or so watched and chatted online from elsewhere in the country. Natur och Kultur themselves had about six people on hand –– working late to help students around the country by helping their teachers get new ideas.

My long-term goal is to improve the quality of English education in Sweden; working with creative structures is a vital part of that improvement.  If you were (or weren’t) in attendance and have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at: kfrato@yahoo.com.

I’ll be finishing my Swedish lecture tour on Wednesday, May 10th at the Natur och Kultur building in Stockholm, talking about teaching creative writing at the high school level. The lecture starts at 5 p.m. (refreshments from 4 p.m.) and the sign up is here.

I’ll be discussing the benefits and challenges of using creative writing in the English curriculum, how to grade creative writing and the workshopping process, teaching the theory of what creative writing is, teaching narrative structure and mechanics, and finally describing the workshopping format and its dos and don’ts (extremely important for protecting students’ integrity, and where my Echo Main Issues books differ from others).

I’m planning to cover a lot of useful material during the evening.  Please bring your ideas and questions, and I hope to see you there!

Last fall I wrote approximately two dozen short stories and non-fiction texts for Swedish publisher Natur och Kultur’s Wings 9 middle school reader. This was the culmination of three years of work on the new three-book 2015-edition of the classic Wings series.

Working with the series has given me a fabulous opportunity to reach young readers through a wide variety of subject matter, formats, and genres.  One of my goals with the project has been to write texts that students will remember and grow from, and therefore I’ve striven for authentic psychological content in every piece, for instance portraying young people forced to make difficult decisions.

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Uhuru Park, Nairobi

Starting with Wings 8, I also replaced the old editions’ fake interviews with new, authentic ones.  For instance for Wings 8, I interviewed young people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Oakland, California, USA; for Wings 9 I interviewed young people in Nairobi, Kenya, (a Kenyan named Arthur and a Swede named Carolina), as well as two Syrian students who had come to Sweden as refugees.   My interviewees made complex observations about the world and their place in it –– commenting on topics such as identity, religion, war, racism, family, and life and death.

When the books went to press, I asked for review copies for each of my interviewees.  And while in Kenya a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to be able to personally deliver copies of Wings 9 to my interviewees in Nairobi.  I appreciated getting the chance to work with these young people, and I expect that for years to come, everyone who reads the interview with them will benefits from their intelligent insights about the world.