WITS Originals

WITS Originals are unique videos designed to help young writers discover new aspects of creative writing.

Prepared & delivered by authors with experience in our main WITS program, the videos explore single creative writing topics in a short format (10 to 20 minutes) suitable for incorporation into a lesson plan or for watching at home.

All WITS Originals are available free and on-demand via our YouTube channel. Click play on any video below to start watching.

New to WITS Originals?
Get an overview of video topics & a behind-the-scenes look at their creation:

WITS Originals were filmed & edited by author, photographer, and videographer Nicola Davison of Snickerdoodle Photography.

for New Writers

Mysteries & history (15:52) with Geraldine Tuck

Best for grades P – 6

Geraldine (she/her) introduces the mystery genre, and its close relationship with historical fiction, through the lens of her Mystery Marauders series. She discusses how to come up with ideas for writing (including closely observing people and being curious about interesting objects) and how not to worry about mistakes. She also leads a short exercise on adding detail to stories through simile and metaphor.

How to be a research detective (15:01) with Jacqueline Halsey

Best for grades P – 6

Jacqueline (she/her) introduces the genre of historical fiction and describes the importance of research to many types of writing. She takes writers through the process of preparing to research; of exploring different sources of information (from museums to oral histories) about history, culture, nature, and science; and of recording and reflecting on the stories they discover.

Write about what you care about (16:03) with Sylvia Gunnery

Best for grades 4 – 9

Sylvia (she/her) talks about bringing multiple things you care about into a single writing project and demonstrates introducing real objects and events into fiction, drawing on her novels Game Face and Roads Signs That Say West for examples. She also leads a writing exercise called “Things I’ve Been Thinking About,” designed to help writers choose a theme or topic for their next writing project.

Writing humour for middle-grade & YA readers (15:44) with Vicki Grant

Best for grades 4 – 9

Vicki (she/her) encourages students to think about humour-writing as a process of trial-and-error, to try turning something true into something funny, and to embrace the drafting and rewriting processes. She also introduces the core comedic tools of pacing and rhythm (including concision, punctuation use, and suspense) and character development (including dialogue and action).

for Novice Writers

Exploring different points of view (18:32) with Don Aker

Best for grades 7 – 12

Don (he/him) introduces the concept of point of view, describes four main points of view (objective, omniscient, limited omniscient, and first-person), and suggests how writers can choose one for their story. Through an example scene, written and rewritten in these four points of view, he explains the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Writing relatable, memorable historical fiction (16:46) with Genevieve Graham

Best for grades 7 – 12

Genevieve (she/her) describes her early interest in Canadian history, how this began her career as a writer of historical fiction, and the many forgotten stories she discovered along the way. Throughout, she discusses the importance of researching the small details of past life and bringing them alive to imagine how characters might act and feel. She concludes with five in-depth writing prompts.

Creating scenes: the building blocks of novels (9:54) with Gloria Ann Wesley

Best for grades 7 – 12

Gloria (she/her) explains the importance of creating a strong long-term character goal for a novel and of connecting each scene of the novel to overarching plot. She also outlines the basic pattern of every scene —goal, conflict, & conclusion—and how to keep readers invested in turning the page through a focus on dialogue & gesture, struggle & tension, and sensory & emotional perception.

What goes into making a book (20:51) with Sal Sawler

Best for grades 7 – 12

Sal (they/them) outlines the long lifecycle of a fiction or nonfiction book—from the author’s drafting, revising, and submitting of a manuscript through to the book deal, publisher’s edits, and the production of the final book—with examples drawn from their own book. They also lead a zine-making exercise and talk about the zine’s place in the publishing world.

for Advanced Writers

Writing across different perspectives (14:31) with Chad Lucas

Best for grades 10 – 12

Chad (he/him) describes the benefits of using multiple points of view in one story, suggesting questions and writing styles to help develop unique narrative voices for each character. He provides tips for writing from race, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability perspectives outside the writer’s life experience: empathizing, researching, respecting diversity within identity groups, avoiding stereotypes, and humanizing.

All’s well that ends well (10:19) with Evelyn C. White

Best for grades 10 – 12

Evelyn (she/her) describes the importance of a strong ending to any piece of writing–as well as how endings influence our experience of theatre and music. She presents fiction and nonfiction examples of circular endings and surprise endings, and she summarizes the key tools for achieving a strong ending: dedication, purpose, and revision.

Different abilities & ways of writing (12:03) with Jen Powley

Best for grades 10 – 12

Jen (she/her) explains the impact of her multiple sclerosis on her ability to write by hand, describes her current writing practice, and introduces the many methods that differently-abled authors use to overcome their unique writing challenges. She leads three short exercises that encourage writers to engage with their bodies and senses in new ways.

Building a great character from the inside out (17:32) with Lesley Choyce

Best for grades 10 – 12

Lesley (he/him) gives a crash course in writing interesting, compelling characters. Starting with a character’s interior (motivations, failures, weaknesses, and emotional triggers), he then explains the important relationships between the character and writer (putting a character into interesting situations, inhabiting a character) and between the character and reader (creating connection, fostering credibility, and presenting contradiction).

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca