Creative writing is a long-standing activity that changed its structure in the last few seasons in response to participants’ comments. It still continues to help improve skills of many Walton County Snowbirds.


For 2019-2020, leader Carole Zoller of Michigan combined features of previous sessions to cover various aspects of written language.


For several years, group members were assigned a weekly prompt, a short synopsis of a situation with some character names and background that provided the writers with a common base for their tales. Often one focus such as use of conversation or “Show, don’t tell” was pinpointed for practice while responding to a specific prompt.


Each writer provides a copy of his or her story to all members of the group. The piece is read aloud by a person other than its author. This procedure helps the audience to hear portions of the text that could benefit from revision.


After each reading, questions, comments, and suggestions are given to the author during discussion. Some writers provide written comments to share as well.


A few years ago, the leader of the group, Bob Hendrickson, proposed writing memoirs. He was working on a book about his family and welcomed input. The members of the group also expressed an interest in exploring this genre, and tales of people, places, items, and events were produced. Many participants shared reference books related to memoir writing. Discussion about sources of family history was incorporated in sessions. Several snowbird writers continued researching and composing during their time away from the Emerald Coast. Bob published his book in 2019. Parts were referred to this season as examples of how to use different fonts to enhance meaning.


The final assignment for the season has been a “research paper.” Not the traditional report format, this is a narrative using information the author has discovered. Facts are incorporated into the story in creative ways. Some past research resulted in pieces involving Eleanor Roosevelt, the atomic bombing of Japan, Jackie Kennedy, and Captain Kangaroo.


For the 2019-2020 sessions, Carole varied assignments among prompts, memoir, and free-choice writing, with some people choosing to compose poetry. The season ended with the now-traditional research project.


Attendance ranges from about six to twice that during the season, although consistent participation is encouraged for the weekly two-and-one-half-hour meetings. Most writers during 2019-2020 are repeat enrollees who have welcomed and supported new members. Everyone can write. This group helps authors write better, explore and experiment with new formats, and share their creativity.


Examples of several pieces from previous seasons can be found by accessing www.waltoncountysnowbirds.com


This is the next-to-last column for the 2019-2020 Walton County Snowbirds season. The final article will cover the general meeting held on Feb. 19 and summarize many of this season’s activities.


Although most activities for the WCS end in February, some continue into March. Access the website www.waltoncountysnowbirds for information.


Debra Wynn, whose other home is in Connecticut, is looking forward to her fifth year as a Walton County Snowbirds’ member.