End of Innocence: Writing Coming of Age Horror with Tom Deady

Growing up can be horrific. Learn to write coming-of-age horror with Bram Stoker Award-winning author Tom Deady in this 4-week workshop.

Your Instructor: Tom Deady (author of Haven)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $399

Class Description

Consider some of the most popular coming-of-age horror novels: It by Stephen King, Summer of Night by Dan Simmons, Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon, December Park by Ron Malfi. Now, think about what makes them so well-loved. It’s not the scary monster (or another villain) and it’s not some mind-blowing plot twist. Then what is it, you ask? It’s the bond of friendship between the characters who struggle to make their way through a grown-up’s world. It’s the magic of childhood itself.

The beauty of writing a coming-of-age story is that you have a built-in audience. Everybody was a kid once and everybody remembers both the pain and the almost mystical delight of youth. The writer’s job is to tap the vein of nostalgia that lives in every adult.

If you’ve always had a story idea that involved a teenage protagonist, this is the class for you. With your instructor as a guide, you’ll explore all the facets of the coming-of-age journey. This genre can be very powerful and evoke strong memories and emotions from readers.

In addition to the ingredients that make well-loved coming-of-age tale, the gritty essentials necessary to any story – voice, tone, plot, cause and effect, character growth – will also be explored. Each of these is magnified in the coming-of-age story.

Participants may have a short story or novel excerpt already prepared when enrolling, though it’s strongly suggested that they write and expand on a piece as the class progresses. Each week will include handouts, a short lecture, suggested readings, and writing assignments that will be critiqued by your instructor and your peers. There will be opportunities to pose questions and engage in discussions with both Tom and your fellow classmates.

End of Innocence is taught by Tom Deady, 2016 Bram Stoker Award-winning author of HAVEN. He has since published several novels and novellas, as well as a collection of short stories. His first Young Adult novel, The Clearing (The first book in the Hopedale Mystery series) was release in 2021. Tom holds a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing and is a writing instructor at Southern New Hampshire University. Tom will take each student on a guided tour of the coming-of-age horror genre and help unleash their stories.

What This Class Covers

WEEK 1 – We Are Young

While creating empathy for your characters is imperative in all fiction writing, it is of particular importance in coming-of-age stories. The genre relies almost completely on the believability and likability of your main character. Remember, the goal is to evoke memories of your readers’ childhood, and to do this, it is critical to create a relatable protagonist.

To do this, the writer needs to revisit some of his/her own memories and distill some of those experiences and feelings into building blocks for their characters. Is your protagonist rebelling against his/her parents or do they have a great relationship? Is there a boyfriend/girlfriend? What does your protagonist do for fun with his/her friends? These are the pieces of the puzzle you need to gather to create your characters.

Coming-of-age horror often puts ordinary kids into extraordinary situations. Once we develop our protagonist, the next step will be to create that extraordinary situation. After that, the writing begins.

*There will be a handout and short lecture, suggested reading, and writing assignment for this class.

WEEK 2 – There's Something Happening Here

Now that you’ve created the perfect characters to star in your coming-of-age novel, we need to put them in a situation where they can shine. Remember, this is a coming-of-age horror story, so let’s make it good.

A great coming-of-age story doesn’t rely on the villain, though there have been some great ones. Pennywise (It), Mr. Dark and Mr. Cooger (Something Wicked This Way Comes), and The Piper (December Park) to name a few. That said, there are just as many great novels in the genre where the story doesn’t have a real villain but is just as effective: Of Foster Homes and Flies by Chad Lutzke and The Body by Stephen King come to mind.

The real magic of the coming-of-age story is how the young protagonist (and his/her friends) react to the situation we put them in while still facing their day-to-day struggle of growing up. It is crucial to remember what is important to these characters (aside from defeating whatever evil you face them with). Friends, a boyfriend/girlfriend, school, their parents…these are the things kids are juggling while not battling evil. To touch your readers, you really need to focus in on those real, day-to-day parts of your protagonist.

At this point, students should have a number of story ideas to choose from and will begin writing their stories. There will also be a writing assignment to kick-start potential story structures, and then…get writing!

*There will be a handout and short lecture, suggested reading, and writing assignment for this class.

WEEK 3 – Growing Up

At this point, students are expected to have a good start on their stories and should have submitted them for constructive critique from fellow classmates and the instructor. While continuing to improve stories in terms of plot and character development, this week will focus on the elements inherent within any piece of fiction, regardless of genre – voice, tone, pacing, dialogue, etc. Voice and dialogue are particularly important in this genre. To build believable and relatable characters, they need to sound like real kids!

*There will be a handout and short lecture, suggested reading, and writing assignment for this class.

WEEK 4 – Voila!

For our final class, we will review the key points of what we have learned about the coming-of-age genre and writing as a whole. We will be critiquing pieces once more, polishing them up, and asking any questions that might have lingered or not been answered throughout the session. Ideally, students will have a complete story ready to submit to journals after completion of this session.

*There will be a handout and short lecture, suggested reading, and writing assignment for this class.

Goals Of This Class

• Learn how to create and grow a believable, likable protagonist to star in your story
• Develop an understanding of how to use the everyday struggle of growing up as a backdrop to your story
• Leave class with a deeper understanding of the key elements of writing short fiction, regardless of genre
• Get your work critiqued by your peers and a published, acclaimed author

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