Young Willamette Writers

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”  – Groucho Marx

Young Willamette Writers are young people who love to write.

If you would like to be a Young Willamette Writer, just show up at a meeting! There is no cost, no application, no special permission. 

However, this year we are also launching our new membership program! Find out more about what it means to become a member.

Portland: Young Willamette Writers

Writing Scary with Debby Dodds

On October 3, the Young Willamette Writers will welcome author Debby Dodds for a seasonally appropriate workshop on “Writing Scary.”

About Debby Dodds

Debby Dodds

Debby is the author of the novel Amish Guys Don’t Call (Blue Moon, June 2017.) She hasstories in many anthologies and magazines and won Portland’s Wizard World 2017 Fiction Contest. She loves teaching and laughing (for her those go hand-in-hand.) As an actress she wrote and performed in stage shows at both Disneyland and Disney World, worked with Jerry Seinfeld, Felicia Day and Michael Jackson, and was known for her great screaming abilities in horror films.

Writing Scary

Scary/thriller/horror writing is a topic the Young Willamette Writers expressed interest in, and despite loving to laugh, Debby has much to say on this topic. Here’s how she describes her upcoming presentation:

Writing the macabre involves mixing up a strange brew of dread, the unnatural and revulsion. Psychological suspense is often scarier than just gory “blood and guts.” We’ll examine masters of communicating frightening ideas and learn techniques of horror writing.

The Young Willamette Writers meeting is free and welcoming to students in grades 5-10. There is no need to register – just show up!

Join Us!

We’ll see you at 7:00 at the Old Church in downtown Portland on Tuesday, October 3rd.

More About Young Willamette Writers Meetings in Portland

Everyone is invited to attend our meetings each month. Our meetings are held at the same time and place as the adult Willamette Writers meetings on the first Tuesday of the month from September through June. We meet from 7 – 8 pm at The Old Church in downtown Portland at SW 11th and Clay.

More About Young Willamette Writers

YWW logo glow

Young Willamette Writers write fiction, poetry, nonfiction, plays and screenplays. They love getting together to hear from professional writers and practice what they learn. They want to be with other passionate writers like themselves.

Teresa Klepinger, Young WW Director, leading a group of young writers in a writing activity

Teresa Klepinger, Young WW Director, leading a group of Young Willamette Writers in an activity

Some of them have entered and won contests such as the Kay Snow Writing Award and a National Scholastic Writing Award. Some have been published in magazines such as American Girl and Stone Soup.

Most of the YWW’s are in middle and high school, but we welcome any students from 5th to 10th grade.

If you have questions, contact the Young Willamette Writers Director, Teresa Klepinger, at yww[at]willamettewriters[dot]org.

Young Willamette Writers Updates:

Young Willamette Writers Gear Up For Conference

On August 12, seven Young Willamette Writers members will attend the Willamette Writers Conference, ready to hit the ground running. These great young writers took the extra step over the last year to join our membership program. They have attended at least four meetings during the last school year, have worked on their skills with a writing mentor, and now are prepared to tackle Community, Craft, and Career at their first major literary conference.

Field Trip Preparation

The YWW group met a couple of weeks before the Conference at the IPRC (Independent Publishing Resource Center) to have a little field trip, plus get down to the business of planning their approach to the big day. Haji, our guide at the IPRC, showed them around the center and taught them how to use an old-fashioned letterpress. After a little practice, they were thrilled to be able to take home bookmarks with “Young Willamette Writers” inked by their very own hands.

Later, they gathered to choose which particular conference workshops to attend. This required some discussion and voting, since they will be navigating through the day as a group. So many great classes to choose from and so hard to decide! They also heard about the amazing faculty members willing to take time out of their busy days to sit down with them and talk about the writing life. The YWW’s have lots of great questions for them.

Our Very Own VIP

At the Conference Awards Banquet, one of our own YWW’s, Elizabeth Keller, will be honored in the Kay Snow 1st-5th grade awards division. Her short story “Ira’s Creatures” won second place. We’re all proud of her!

Up Next

Our next school year is shaping up well. Many talented and supportive writers have said they’d love to come share tips and ideas with the Young Willamette Writers. Watch this space for announcements.


Thank You, Lisa and Nora Ericson!

Nora and Lisa Ericson joined the Young Willamette Writers at our most recent meeting on May 3, and captivated the group with their description of the unique challenges of writing and illustrating picture books. Dill and Bizzy: And Odd Duck and a Strange Bird is written by Nora and illustrated by her sister, Lisa.

The YWW’s learned about the unusual requirements of picture books – that they must be thirty-two pages in length, that most manuscripts are under 1,000 words, that a writer must consider where in a story the page turns happen, and that most of the time the writer never has contact with the illustrator.

Our Young Willamette Writers are a curious bunch and asked great questions. Do you need to limit your vocabulary? What about subplots? Can you tell the illustrator what the picture should look like? Nora and Lisa kept up a great conversation with humor and interesting anecdotes about the editing and illustrating process.

Check back for details about our June meeting, the last official Young Willamette Writers meeting of the school year. And spread the word!

We All Love New Ideas

Sometimes the well of new ideas runs dry. This is true whether you’ve been writing for a lifetime of 75 years or ten. Last November, I participated in PiBoIdMo. No, not NaNoWriMo. This was Picture Book Idea Month. We were challenged (and helped along the way) to come up with thirty picture book ideas in thirty days. As a children’s writer, I loved it!

New Ideas

One of the best ideas came from a blog post, and I must ask ye Internet gods for forgiveness because I don’t remember the guest blogger who provided it. It’s not just one idea, but a method for generating ENDLESS ideas. Ideas not just for picture books, but for short stories, scenes, or “What the heck should happen next in my epic five volume novel?” This brilliant method will be one of the Ideasactivities for our Young Willamette Writers meeting on Tuesday, March 1. We won’t have a guest speaker this time, so it will be a relaxed, informal, hang-out-with-friends evening. I’ll share the idea-generator, we’ll try it out, and we’ll see what we come up with. YWW’s will go home with a pocketful of ideas ready to put to work.

Join Us!

The Young Willamette Writers is a group of like-minded, talented, enthusiastic writers from 5th to 10th grades. We meet the first Tuesday of every month during the school year. It’s free, and everyone is welcome – just show up! We have also launched our membership group, with special benefits for those students who choose to become actual members of YWW. Members have the opportunity to be paired with an adult writing mentor, to receive a free day at the Willamette Writers Conference, to be a part of the community between meetings, and to have their writing included in a future YWW journal. Join us for this great new opportunity to strengthen your work and find your writing community.

Registration is easy. Just click here.

I’m excited about all the new ideas we can explore together.

A Dark and Stormy Night With Christy Peterson

On February 2nd, Christy Peterson joins Young Willamette Writers to consider the role a setting serves in a story.

Setting in your Story

As our featured guest puts it:Christy Peterson

We do not always think of setting when we think of our favorite books. Setting grounds the reader, contributes to a convincing story, and sometimes even affects the plot directly. Imagine The Hobbit without the verdant green of The Shire or the foreboding shadows of Mirkwood. “How to Train Your Dragon” just would not be the same set on a tropical island. In this workshop, we learn to make settings in fiction and nonfiction come alive with sensory language and well-placed details. We will also examine how a story changes when our settings change.

A Little Bit About Christy Peterson

Christy Peterson has presented at the annual Oregon Writing Festival at Portland State University (make sure your school participates!), and we’re thrilled to have her join us. While she is primarily a children’s nonfiction writer, Christy will demonstrate for us how a setting can impact any piece of writing.

Hint: our writing exercise will be a bit of a mind-bender.

Christy especially enjoys writing about the overlooked and the misunderstood. This usually involves writing about living things no one likes, such as spiders and bacteria. She is the official spider remover in her family. Her work has been featured in ASK Magazine, Boy’s Quest, and at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. She also writes leveled readers and has presented on science and writing topics to students around the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington metro area.

We can’t wait to hear her presentation! Come meet Christy on February 2nd at our Portland meeting!

Portland Meeting Location Change

WW Portlandat Tabor SpaceHey all you Portland Willamette Writers and Young Willamette Writers! We will NOT be meeting at the Old Church on January 5. Instead, we will be at the Tabor Space at 5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215.

We will meet in the Copeland Commons room at 7PM.

The Young Willamette Writers will be joined by Author Deborah Hopkinson, who will be Imagining Past Lives. In the big room, Willamette Writers will be kicking off FilmLab with a birthday party and plenty of writing prompts.

See you at Tabor Space in 2016!