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Award-winning author teaches teens

Author Carrie Mesrobian (left) leads Red Wing teen writers through character development exercises at the public library Monday night, as Megan Seeland, library youth services director, listens. (Republican Eagle photo by Amanda Greenwood)

Author Carrie Mesrobian of Minneapolis visited the Red Wing Public Library Monday night, encouraging teen writers to develop non-stereotypical characters.

She led those attending through several writing exercises to spark creative story-telling.

The first exercise included listing the typical characteristics of heroes and villains already found in popular series, such as "The Hunger Games," “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “Divergent.”

Attendees were asked, “How do you know he/she is a hero or a villain?”

After several responses regarding character qualities, Mesrobian said, “You have uncovered the motivation of the character.”

She challenged the young writers to think about why characters are behaving the way they are and to break out of the typical hero/heroine stereotypes in their writing.

“There are a lot of heroines that we have not met,” she said.

During the second exercise, the girls listed personal pet peeves and then assigned one of them to a hero character, challenging “out of the box” character development.

Next, Mesrobian asked the writers to create a list of problems, such as: “I have to go to the dentist, and I have not been flossing — problem,” she said light-heartedly.

Next to the problems lists, attendees then listed personal skills and qualities.

“If you take one problem and one thing you are good at, you have made a character,” Mesrobian said.

After the character development exercises, the young writers had the opportunity for free writing under the author’s advice, “Don’t start with sentences; start with words.”

Mesrobian is the William C. Morris YA Debut Award nominee, an honor that highlights first-time authors in teen literature, for her book “Sex & Violence.” On April 5, she also received a Minnesota Book Awards Gala award in the Young People’s category.

Along with releasing her next book “Perfectly Good White Boy” in October, Mesrobian teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Mesrobian is originally from North Mankato and received her undergraduate degree from St. Olaf and master’s degree in Washington.

More information is available on her website