Fiction Writing Successes

Could GWS only work, as some administrators insisted, with problem-solving?  Dr. G. wondered if it might also apply to more “imaginative” writing. He therefore applied the GWS process to fiction writing. 

  • The Gambell students submitted 15 stories to Future Problem Solving’s corollary program in fiction writing. Unlike the main program, which at the time was only for the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the fiction writing program was worldwide. Approximately 2000 stories were submitted.
    • Nine of the Gambell stories placed.
    • One of the nine won the junior-high division.
    • Another was runner-up in the high-school division. It was later published as the only story by a nonprofessional in Tales of the Great Turtle (Tor), an anthology of Native American fiction. Publisher’s Weekly lauded the story.
  • G. then gave a four-hour talk to three adults wishing break into professional writing. Two had never before written fiction. The third, an Anchorage attorney, had been trying for many years to have something published.
    • The first story the attorney wrote using GWS was published in Twilight Zone and won the world award for best first mystery story. He went on to become a well-published professional.
    • A second student wrote Dr. G. a year later. The man reported that he had just won his third national writing competition. The prize was a week for two in Maui.
  • When Dr. G. returned to teaching college, he abandoned the way fiction writing is usually taught at that level.
    • In the first class he taught, one of the students won the state fiction-writing award for college students despite being an undergraduate competing against students in graduate writing programs. The student had never written fiction before.
    • In the second class he taught, one of his graduate students – who also had never written fiction before – won the same competition.
    • Since then, many students have produced published fiction while using GWS.
  • G. then wondered if the system, though designed for beginners, would work with someone like himself – a well-published professional. He decided to give it a try.
    • His first experiment was with a novelette, “The Mirror of Lop Nor.” It became finalist for the Nebula.
    • His second experiment was with a novel, in collaboration with the late Janet Berliner. The book won the Bram Stoker Award for the Year’s Best Horror Novel.
    • His third experiment was with a nonfiction book, The Kids from Nowhere. It became one of three national finalists for the Benjamin Franklin Award for the Year’s Best Book About Education.
    • His fourth experiment was with a screenplay. He had never written one before, nor had his coauthor, Deborah Schildt. It won the grand prize at the Las Vegas International Screenplay Competition, along with the grand prize at three more similar competitions.

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