Writing

In the Unlikely Event Case Study - Part 2

Judy Blume

Lesson time 19:54 min

Judy calls her notebooks her security blankets. Take a peek inside them to see how she bridged information with imagination to fictionalize a story she personally experienced.

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In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.
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In going through the notebooks, I just pulled some pages from one of them, because I really wanted you to see what goes into it. This doesn't mean you need to do it this way. Why would you? But this is what's worked for me for so many years. And this is just one example. And in this case, I thought that I knew the whole story. So in the notebooks-- I don't know-- I found how much I didn't know and how much I wanted to put in the story. And that's what the notebooks helped me find. Example for you. This is now April 2011. And I think it was 2009 when I actually got the idea. And this is what it says. "Oi! Ugh! I read what I have. I have next to nothing. I have to start from the beginning. Help!" With a lot of exclamation points. It also says, "Who are these characters?" This is a really important note for me because it means I read what I had, and I didn't know the characters. And that was my job, to make you know the characters and care about the characters. So I had to dig deeper and deeper into who were these people. Because there was just an idea of them at the beginning, not the reality of who are they really. So I think those two notes-- I don't know. They mean a lot to me now. And I hope they mean something to you. The reading what you have and finding out, oh, I have next to nothing, what do I do? I go back. I go back to the beginning. And I try to go deeper, more layers, more complexity, more story. I have another page here that is shocking to me, that if I hadn't seen this, I would have told you that I knew all the characters on that day in 2009. And yet this note says, "Question. Could somebody be a reporter? Maybe Benny's uncle?" Now Benny became Miri. Name was wrong. She became Miri. And she has a young uncle. I thought from the beginning I knew that Uncle Henry was going to be one of the most important characters in the book. He certainly turns into one of the most important characters in the book. But on this day, I didn't know that. I wrote myself, "Question. Could somebody be a reporter?" And of course, Uncle Henry became the reporter that has all the by lines. And these are his stories. And he is essential to this book. But I didn't know it. And I surprised myself by finding that out. (WHISPERS) What else do I have? I have a note here about Natalie. And it says, "Dentist, privileged, siblings, housekeeper, eat dinner promptly at 6:00 so the housekeeper can go home, laundress in basement all day on Monday. No one tells Natalie anything about anything." This becomes Natalie's family. Her father is a dentist. They are a privileged family. The mother comes from money. She has siblings. She has a six-year-old sister, Fern, who is a very important character. In telling this book, I'm using a lot of young characters, from Fe...


Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Thank you Judy, for sharing your experiences. I am not so afraid. My life story is filled with laughter and tears, like everyone else's...

Judy Blume is a stellar teacher, to be sure, but she wasn't performative in the least. She was who she was and didn't hide her emotions. This humanized someone whose work I admired for so long. One of the best classes I've taken here or anywhere.

This was wonderful! As a teacher, Judy eminates love almost continually. As someone sharing the process of writing and publishing, she conveys practical tips like, "start a story when the main character has a life change."

Hearing and seeing Judy, one of the strongest and dearest voices of my childhood, talk so candidly and with such emotion about her experience as a writer has been amazing! I feel encouraged and inspired to continue my writing journey. Thank you, Judy and Masterclass!


Comments

Karey B.

Dig deeper, flesh out, make the reader KNOW/CARE about each character—-this is incredibly helpful/inspiring. Current WIP has me feeling meh about characters—now I know why. I haven’t truly fleshed ‘em out. No matter how long we’ve been writing, sometimes we forget about turning broth into stew...

A fellow student

Finished watching and what an encouraging and touching lesson Judy. Reminds me of why I love writing and how what we do affects not only us but the readers.

A fellow student

I'm only halfway through this video but having gone to workshops in the past, keeping a journal or a dossier on the characters is vital. Once you know your characters inside and out, there's no stopping your progress and your story. I have so many character notes that are scattered in my writing app, notes section of my of my phone and in journals.

Grant W.

I just like listening to what Judy says and her obvious passion for her writing and what it means to her. It is quite infectious. I don't think I'd heard of her until I started doing this course. Now I think I'll read her books!

Christina

I really feel that I learned a lot from this video series so far. I really enjoyed the fact that she showed the viewer her actual notebooks; I feel that she really showed her students that writing isn't always perfect and sometimes ideas come from scribbles. I really like the idea of having a notebook dedicated to character development because it can show gaps in the character and how much research needs to be done in order to have a character. I will definitely will use this technique more often.

Tiffany "Page" H.

My husband got me her class as a birthday gift. He knows me so well! I upgraded for Joyce Carol Oates, another fave from my youth, and I must say, as much as I love JCO’s work, I really adore Judy Blume’s teaching. She comes across as so warm and generous and fun, just like her books. She smiles a lot and you can tell she really gets a kick out of the craft, and out of her audience. It helps ease me into the learning to see that kind of enthusiasm. Thank you, JB for all your hard work on the original books and all your additional work trying to help guide and inspire other writers.

Veronica F.

I really enjoyed looking at Judy's notes and enjoyed how she explained what was going through her mind at the moment she wrote them. It was interesting for me to listen to how she developed some of her characters.

A fellow student

The suggestion that impressed me most was to read read read current books like I want to write.Read what actually does get published . Read what your young audiance is liking and why. What I also took note of was the value of talking with others. Get different points of view that may have escaped me. Explore outside myself.

Dea

Seeing Judy's notes is helpful - as well as the earlier idea of keeping multiple notebooks for each project. I just started trying to write seriously. I had a really cool idea for a historical fiction book, but oh my god!, I have no idea how to organize all my ideas and research. Seeing the notes from Judy's notebooks is making me feel a LOT better about my progress.

Nikki B.

This is so helpful. When I'm jotting notes for my characters/worlds, I sometimes choose not to write things down if they seem insignificant. Thanks to Judy, I know to write down EVERYTHING!