Ask Dana: My 12-year-old daughter wants to take your 10-week Screenwriting I class. That’s okay, right?

As far as I’m concerned, most kids are way smarter than adults.

Take Allie Webber. At the age of 6 she invented Robie the Robot, a robot doll made out of recycled materials. At 12, she invented cold-sensor gloves that let wearers know when their fingers were close to frost bite.

Teens and preteens have been doing amazing things that adults have only dreamed of forever, from developing tools that help doctors treat cancer to winning Olympic medals to changing the conversation about climate change and voting rights.

And they write stuff.

Screenwriter/director Cameron Crowe was publishing music reviews for the underground newspaper The San Diego Door at 13. Eleven-year-old Alma Deutscher penned an opera based on Cinderella which premiered in Vienna in 2016. And our own Kody Keplinger published her YA novel The Duff, about a teen who decides SHE IS the ‘designated ugly fat friend’, when she was but a teen herself (17 to be exact.)

But no matter how talented a writer any given teen is, it wouldn’t work to have them take any of our adult classes. And here’s why.

First, we can’t censor what students write. And even though teens are privy to lots of adult content online or in the news, they might not be ready for some of the topics folks write about in class.

Also, no matter how talented or mature a teen is, they’re still children with way less ‘planet experience’ than adults, which does come into play when it comes to understanding class lectures and critiquing the work of other students in the class.

And speaking of critiquing other students, it’s a huge component of most of our classes and not only might our students in their 30’s, 40’s, up to their 80’s feel weird getting feedback from someone who isn’t yet an adult, teens might feel weird giving honest feedback to folks who might well be older than their own parents.

Now, I don’t want you to get the impression that we aren’t supportive of young writers. We know they ARE the future of storytelling, and we offer Teen classes in Creative Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Scriptwriting, and Video Game Writing to give them a place to cultivate their talents and learn their craft. And if those specific choices don’t appeal, we have One-on-One services that might.

But bringing a teen—even one who has great ideas and might well be a more talented writer than any adult could hope to be—into one of our non-teen classes just wouldn’t work. For your teen most of all.

So if you have a kid or know a kid who wants to learn how to tell stories or loves the written word, and you want to honor their passion and give them the push to get started, that is awesome. We’d love to have them join one of our Teen classes or work with us privately. And when that stellar storyteller turns 18, we hope they’ll stick with us and continue to make Gotham their writing home.

Want to talk about this more? Give us a call! Or have that kid of yours call. We’re happy to chat this through!

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