The Writer's Den

UCLA's creative writing student group

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Halloween is heeeeeereeee

If this isn't appropriate, I don't know what is.

Lock your doors tonight to keep out the serial killers!

Well, lock your doors every night. I think it’s a little naive to assume serial killers only come on Halloween.

It’s a well known fact that the paranormal realm is hyperactive on Halloween night. This means it’s the optimal time to go ghost-catching. You DO know what ghost-catching is, right?

I don’t mean trying to raise your dead great-grandparents or Jackie Robinson or whoever the hell you’d most like to raise from the dead. That’s a seance. Ghost-catching is when you find a spirit out there of some amazing story idea…and you CHANNEL IT.

The best way to go ghost-catching is to take a nice walk in the chilly fall air (at night, because right now it’s weirdly hot during the day), in a place that’s not super familiar to you. If you’re south campus, go to north campus, and vice versa. You may be surprised by what you find.

You may find…yourself.

No, I’m kidding. It takes a lot more than  walk at night to find yourself. I assume. But you may find a nice ghost. It might hit you when you’re walking around…maybe like a brick wall. Or maybe like a little breeze that speaks of something you have to eke out piece by piece.

But the most important thing about Halloween is to have fun and eat a lot of candy. And to remember you’re not alone, because there’s a man with an axe right behind you. And he’s a vampire on the weekends.



Mr. Crichton, c. a really long time ago

Sixty-nine years ago today, a great man was born into the world of writing, and his name was Michael Crichton. If you don’t know who Michael Crichton is, you need to do your research. Actually, you should go back in time to when you were 11-ish and learn about him so that you will have known who he was since you were old enough to read his books.

Anyways, he wasn’t a brilliant wordsmith or anything, but he sure knew how to tell a story. He’s the only guy I’ve heard of who can make a cloud of nano-particle cameras seem interesting. He can turn time travel into a medieval battle of life and death. He’s the reason whenever I hear the word “Andromeda” (like in Harry Potter, anyone?) I think of an Arizona village where everyone except a little baby and an old man have died.

But mostly, he’s the reason that if you only know one of the ancient dinosaur ages, the one you know is Jurassic. Inevitably.

Even if you don’t think science is tedious, you can enjoy the hell out of a Michael Crichton book. He is the master of the page-turner. Next time you go to the beach, bring a Michael Crichton with you.

So to all ye mini-writers out there, even if you’re an English major and thus a literary snob (I ain’t judgin’), we can all take a note from Mr. Crichton. He was passionate about his writing and he was a hard worker, crankin’ em out every couple years. He shaped my tween years, but I still enjoy his books to date.

Leave a comment with your favorite young adult author & favorite book from them!

For me, it’s Michael Crichton, and it’s between Jurassic Park and Prey.

Also, J. K. Rowling is a given, so don’t waste our time.

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Happy October 16th!

Halloween is approaching….

Hope all you writers out there are brewing up a good scary story!!

Here is a list of 16 reasons (in honor of the date) why October/ Halloween is inspiring:

1. FALL– fall is an awesome season, setting-wise. It’s a great backdrop for your gothic, gloomy, and spooky stories. Crunchy leaves, rain, chilly nights, the bright orange harvest moon…there is so much to work with!

2. COLUMBUS DAY–Whether you think Columbus is a genocidal maniac or a fearless explorer, he’s a historical figure and it’s fun to think and/or write about history!

3. THE NEW YEAR (for Jews, anyway)–The New Year symbolizes a lot of things, namely, new beginnings and rebirth. A central theme to so many stories!

4. CEMETERIES/GRAVEYARDS–whether you look upon them as peaceful or unnerving, cemeteries are a great place to draw inspiration. Think about how many people are buried there, and how many life experiences are contained in that small tract of land. I’m sure every one of those gravestones marks an incredible untold story.

5. MIDTERMS–You supposed to be studying? Me too. Midterms are the best time to write because we can use it as a form of procrastination!

6. PUMPKINS–For eating or for carving, we can all appreciate pumpkins at some point in our lives.

7. CORN MAZES–Don’t get lost…

8. WITCHES–Witches make great fodder for stories. Whether you’re going for supernatural Macbeth-type witches, metaphorical Crucible-type witches, or just downright creepy Roald Dahl Witches, witches are an instant classic. I could make a whole other list of awesome witches from stories, but that would be too many lists.

9. THE HARVEST–Sure, Los Angeles is pretty damn far removed from the whole harvest culture, but we can still all slap on a pair of overalls and a checked shirt and go to Whole Foods to pretend we are real country farmers. That’s always fun.

10. LEAVES– They make fun crunchy sounds and are oh-so-satisfying to step on, they’re pretty colors, and they’re super fun to make piles of and jump in. The only lame thing about them is the leaf-blowers that inevitably accompany them…I swear those guys just move the leaves around really noisily and never accomplish anything.

11. CANDY–Duh…especially for us writers, bogged down with midterms and lack of sleep, candy is a magical thing. It tastes great, it keeps you awake, and adds an extra 10 WPM onto your typing speed.

12. GHOSTS–Just like witches, you can create all manner of ghosts. Friendly Caspers, Informative Fathers of Hamlet, and slightly perverted Moaning Myrtles. Not to mention the obvious terrifying ghosts. There are a lot of options.

13. BEING CONFUSED ABOUT NUMBERS–“October” should be the 8th month, according to its name. And I know it was at some point in some part of the world, but it’s just confusing now. The year should end in February according to the names of the last four months. Way to be super confusing, history of the origins of month words.

14. BLACK CATS–Superstitions are always fun to talk about in stories, and in general.

15. OKTOBERFEST–Germany is weird.

16. SPRING–this is for readers on the other side of the equator, of which I am sure there are none, but I felt like I should mention it.


I just realized it would have been a lot easier to do this post at the beginning of the month. Happy Mid-October everyone!

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What we’re about:

The purpose of the Writer’s Den is threefold:

Onefold: Teach middle school children what it is to be a creative writer. Hopefully, by the end of the year, the wee pupils of Columbus middle school will all be blossoming novelists. Or, at least, understand that having to write isn’t a death sentence.

Twofold: Once a week, get together all the UCLA writer-y types to share their work in an open forum. So if you have a story hidden in a locked drawer in your room that you have never shown anyone, but you desperately want feedback…come Tuesdays at 7:00. If it sucks, we’ll ask you to leave.*

Threefold: Provide the aforementioned people a place to just sit down and write their brains out. Everyone knows the hardest thing about writing is actually motivating yourself to start. So, after every weekly meeting we’ll spend an hour trying to overcome the Everest that is writer’s block.

Email for more details!!