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John Fried, author of The Martin Chronicles, recently led a master class and reading at Point Park University hosted by the Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice.

In the master class, Fried shared his expert writing advice with the students, giving them tips on how to develop their characters and add tension to their stories.  

“Fried’s coming-of-age book is a funny and sometimes cringe-inducing reminder of the awkwardness of adolescence, and his reading opened up a lively Q and A. Students had lots of great questions and Fried shared his advice on workshopping, M.F.A. programs, revising, finding your readers and owning your own process,” said Barbara Barrow, Ph.D., assistant professor of English

Associate Professor of English Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., added: “Our visiting writers bring the world to Point Park students. Fried brings New York City (the city of his birth and the setting of his novel) and the city of Pittsburgh (the city where he resides, teaches and writes) to our campus, but he also brings his mentors’ advice, and like any writer, he carries his past, his peers’ critiques and comments with him, too. It was a fantastic event and it makes me really happy to get to be a student again with my students."

At the public reading on campus, Annabelle Wagner, a senior creative writing major, introduced Fried, who then read a section from his coming of age novel, The Martin Chronicles, called, “Destroy All Monsters."

“I read the novel prior to Fried’s visit, but hearing him read from 'Destroy All Monsters' in his own voice was a whole other experience,” said Wagner, a graduate of Grove City High School in Grove City, Pa.

“Even as a current writer, it was definitely a learning experience. Although I was already aware of this, John Fried made the point to us that specifics are key when writing fiction and that we, as writers, have to make our characters want something. I've been hearing this in all of my writing classes, but having him reiterate it really opened my eyes to the mistakes I have been making while writing,” explained sophomore creative writing major Megan Benfer from Milton Area High School in Milton, Pa.

Junior creative writing major McKenzie LeFevers, a graduate of Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pa., said: “A full schedule of writing classes can feel overwhelming and demanding at times, and it sometimes feels impossible to pump out so much ​good writing. However, Fried admitted that he usually writes in increments. He may not write for a month, but then he’ll pick up where he left off once he can, and then writes maybe 100 solid pages at once. I found this reassuring, because it made me feel like I’m not a phony writer if I don’t get to writing every day."

“Something valuable I learned from Fried was that his character of Marty came about from a writing exercise. Sometimes there's a disconnect doing writing assignments because we're doing them for homework and we forget that there's a reason, and that great bouts of self-discovery can come from being prodded in different directions. I have discovered different stories from writing exercises, so to hear the petulant Marty came about from an exercise was enlightening,” said Asher Winnie, a junior creative writing student and graduate of Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy.

Wagner added: “Attending Point Park has also given me the opportunity to live in the city, where I can visit museums, see plays, and attend readings. I never really get bored here." 

More About: creative writing, Gateway High School, student workshop, master class, Department of Literary Arts, English, Grove City High School, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy