Author J. Scott Savage encourages creativity through stories and reading
Posted on 09/13/2023
Author J. Scott Savage encourages creativity through stories and readingLet’s say you’re writing a novel. Or a short story. And you want your main character to be a cheeseburger. And let’s say the cheeseburger has a secret hideout where she plays techno music on an electric keyboard. For an audience of rabbits.

Sounds too ridiculous to work? Not at all, according to J. Scott Savage. The award-winning author of fantasy and suspense novels, known for the FarWorld series and the Lost Wonderland Diaries, visited Sunnyside Intermediate School August 30, inspiring students to keep reading and keep telling their stories.

Savage grew up a storyteller. As kid, out with his cousins, he made up a story about a superhero hot dog named Captain Weenie and his arch villain, a little purple man. As he finished, he looked at his cousins, worried it had fallen flat. “And?” they said. “What’s next?”

An author was born. It took him a few years – he had forays into other careers, such as plumber, Internet company CEO and French chef – before settling on writing.

And now, 25 published books later, he is still writing. And he visits schools across the country – about 20 each week from August through May – working to instill in students a love of reading and writing.

Students at Sunnyside responded with great enthusiasm when asked about their favorite literary genres. Funny? Yes! Scary? Yes! Fantasy? Yes! Mystery? Historical? Realistic? Absolutely.

Stories with lots of smooching? Not so much.

“If there’s a story you want to read, you can write it,” Savage told the crowd.

Stories, he says, are the way we communicate with each other. They can be told through writing; they can also be told through drawings, through music, by telling them orally or through any other form of creativity. And there is no wrong way of telling a story.

Who, for example, would take seriously a story about a school principal who wears underwear and a cape and is a superhero? Ask author Dav Pilkey, whose Captain Underpants series has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Savage walked Sunnyside students through an exercise where they collaboratively planned their own story. They needed to keep in mind the key elements to an adventure story – protagonist, goal, obstacle and consequences – but with that loose framework, they were free to explore, with no boundaries, and no ideas were off the table.

“This is your story,” Savage reminded them. “It can be a man-eating, tap-dancing cheese-eating squirrel.”