From Judy Blume's MasterClass

In the Unlikely Event Case Study - Part 2

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.

Topics include: Keep Notes • Pull Details From Real Life • Brainstorm Names and Titles • Ask Yourself Questions • Round It Out With Imagination • Make the Connection


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.

Topics include: Keep Notes • Pull Details From Real Life • Brainstorm Names and Titles • Ask Yourself Questions • Round It Out With Imagination • Make the Connection

Judy Blume

Teaches Writing

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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.


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

This class not only teaches but inspires me to go further. that perhaps i just need to find that editor that believes in my creativity.

I loved the class and Judy’s warmth, whimsy and authenticity. I needed this class and her ‘friendship’. I feel encouraged to get back to my novel, delve in and not over analyze, just show up and write. I felt Judy’s genuine kindness and love, not only of her work but of writer’s and books and the journey. I will likely go through the class again but feel grateful, very grateful. Thank you!

Especially loved the way Judy Blume transmitted her experience and insights with such sincerity and emotional authenticity. Such a gift for writers!

I absolutely loved this class. She is so enthusiastic about writing it inspired me to stop and write things down while she was talking. Love her!


Nilce S.

Beautiful lesson. I have enjoyed everything in Judy´s writing process, but this lesson really touched me. More than the technique, it awakened me to the emotional connection that can be built along the character and story development. Thank you Judy! And thank you all at Masterclass.

Tina E.

I love learning about Blume's process. I think the two biggest "take-aways" from this lesson are first, to write down everything as you work through your own process. It is okay to have fragmented thoughts, rough ideas of plot and character that may evolve or be omitted later. The key thing is to get it all down on paper as you go through the ideas. Secondly, you must really know your characters to develop them fully. It is fine for them to change or change names but without really knowing the characters, they will seem flat or cliche.

Kai D.

"make it more real, get to know her..." I've thought this so often when reading my characters, but I haven't gotten the hang of asking the right questions. Seeing Judy's notes is a great help however and although my note-taking looks very different, I'm excited about what I've learned from this lesson.

Wanita K.

asking questions...that is a take away I will use. The notebook examples were inspiring.

Hope A.

I am glad that I'm not the only one who habitually changes character names. And, I am definitely going to keep a notebook for every book idea now. I have various books of ideas and notes scattered everywhere. If I decide to go back to an idea, I usually have trouble finding it. Alternately, I sometimes come across ideas written in notebooks or files on my computer or phone and have no memory of writing them, but think, "Hey, that's a good idea." Thanks, Judy! I am definitely finding better practices and great nuggets of advice here after fifteen years of trying to figure out this writing a novel thing. :)

Lasse W.

Wauw! This is the first class ever that have made me cry a little bit. I will definently keep notebooks, and i will dedicate more time to create the "universe"/World/settings/life that my characters are living in. I will dedicate entire notebooks for each book project. Very excited to move on!

Colleen P.

I am going thru these lessons a second time and am enjoying them even more. I have a full file cabinet of story ideas that I have jotted down over the last 60 or more years. With age, my hands have developed enough of a tremor that I can't read anything I write by hand, so my computer has become my notebook. I had the thought of going back and typing all those things into the computer and saving them on a thumb drive. Wow! I have only recently realized these are all stories for kids. I thought I wanted to write mysteries (my favorite reads). Now I realize that I can do that, only for kids. Thank you Judy!

Dorothy K.

Another awesome lesson. Judy Blume has a natural way of sharing her knowledge with us from an emotional side to a factual side. Her notes taken remind me of the freshness of thoughts that are hurriedly scribbled down on paper. I find Judy has helped open my thoughts and imagination. Through out the days after the lesson I mull over her words, soaking them up. Excellent lesson. Thank you.

Michael B.

Wonderful! I love how she can fill in all of the blanks of things I don't know.

Mia S.

"'Save this for Part Three.' I like that, as I read it - but that's not the way it is in the book. This all comes from this little note. 'Make it more real - get to know her, make her younger.' That's just how a character comes, I knew true things about her because of the research, but then the imagination takes over. I gave her a family, I let you see her with her family on the night that she's packing to go on this trip, so we're more invested in her when we find out what happens. She lives then, through Natalie in some crazy kind of way - that was pure imagination. That's the thing. There are a lot of things that come from my life, other peoples' lives, people I've known, things I remember... but every bit as much comes from that thing that we have, our imaginations. That's what our ability, our talent - we have imaginations that allow us to tell these stories. After the book was published and I was going around the country on a book tour, and even out of the country, there was never a place that I went where there weren't people in the audience who remembered, who were there, related to someone - there was a connection at every single venue. [This woman] was on a plane that crashed, she was a survivor - she came to one of my events, we stood up there and hugged, and I said to her, 'Did you ever fly again?' She said, 'I flew the next week, and I've been flying ever since.' I loved her."