A visit to the Lancaster Day Care Center, where I’m honorary Author-in-Residence.
The presentations and workshops listed below are suggestions only. My goal is always to tailor my programs to the needs of each organization and audience.
I’ve indicated target age groups, but that’s flexible, too. Something that works for a preschool visit — a reading of my picture books, for instance — can be adapted effectively for older audiences. Picture books provide a wonderful short-cut to the understanding of story structure for students of any age. And that approach might be further adapted for a teacher in-service gathering or as a full-day workshop for writers working on picture book manuscripts.
So let’s work together to mix and match. Or maybe you’d rather challenge me to take off in a whole new direction? Okay! I’d welcome the opportunity.
For scheduling and the unavoidable discussion of fees, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A “Write from the Heart” workshop for New Choices at the YWCA in Lancaster
These can be done singly in about an hour, or combined in any number of ways to form half-day to full-day to multiple-day events.
ADD-A-LINE STORIES — A look at story structure using TOO MANY FROGS! as a model, followed by the oral creation of a group story. This works well with preschool through 3rd grade children and may be followed by time to draw illustrations of the new story and combine them into a book to share with other students. When I do this exercise with upper elementary students, their goal is to create a group story they’ll share with the younger children.
CONFLICT AND PLOT DEVELOPMENT– An in-depth look at character-driven and force-driven plot structures with emphasis on the external, interpersonal, and internal obstacles and stresses faced by characters moving through the arc of their stories. What do Hamlet, Rocky Balboa, and E.T. have in common? Not formulaic storytelling, for sure, but far more than immediately meets the eye.
DIALOGUE — How many times have you skipped long, descriptive passages in a novel to get back to dialogue — the sound of human beings talking? It’s as irresistible on the page as it is in real life, where we’ve all eavesdropped on conversations, be they shouted or whisperwd. Learn the many uses of dialogue and how to write it effectively, and discover how it can pull you through a story as a writer as well as a reader.
PLAYWRITING — approaches and techniques; can be geared to upper elementary through adult writers and teachers.
POINT OF VIEW — the point of view character is the reader’s guide to entering the world of the story, so choosing that character and then letting him or her determine the creation of that world is vital to both writer and reader. Pointers and hands-on exercise included. Grades 5 through adult.
REVISION AND THE NINE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS — can be targeted to upper elementary through adult writers
SHOW; DON’T TELL — emphasizes the importance of action, dialogue, and sensory images, with a hands-on exercise for all writers, grades 3 through adult.
TELL ME A STORY — A reading of my picture book STELLA’S DANCING DAYS gets young people talking about real pets and thinking about how they can use their imaginations to turn their experiences into stories. Great for kindergarten and up!
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? — First, we do group brainstorming to demonstrate how ideas are everywhere, all the time. Then we choose one idea and develop it, showing how ideas need us to help them become stories. Finally, each student is encouraged to replicate the steps to create a story of his or her own, either during a longer session or as a follow-up to a shorter one. Especially effective with 3 – 5 graders.
WHOSE STORY IS THIS, ANYWAY? Using the Core Psychological Needs to Explore Character, Point of View, and Plot — Which of your characters is driving your story forward, and why? Let that character help you write it!
WRITE FROM THE HEART — Combining personal narrative, poetry, and a different approach to journaling, this workshop can be done with upper elementary or secondary students, with adults of all ages, or with multigenerational groups. If time permits, it can be expanded to include devising short plays from the material generated during the hands-on writing sessions.
WRITING PICTURE BOOKS — approaches, techniques, target audiences, and the market; for adult writers. May be half-day, full-day, or longer and may include individual manuscript critiques.
WRITING PLAYS FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES — approaches, techniques, target audiences, and the market; for adult writers.
WRITING YOUR FIRST NOVEL — a day-long (or longer) workshop incorporating many of the technique sessions above plus individual manuscript critiques.
Reading TOO MANY FROGS! to preschoolers and their families at the Fulton Theater’s Neighborhood Bridges culminating event.
AMERICAN HEARTBEAT: True Stories Told Through Scenes and Monologues
BECAUSE GOD LOVES STORIES: How Our Stories Define Us, Our Experiences, and Our Place in Society
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: 50 Years of Writing for Publication and How Not to Become Rich and Famous
BEHIND THE SCENES: A Book from Idea to Publication
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Thoughts on Language, Story, and Community in the Age of Technology
RABBITS, FROGS, AND READERS THEATER
STORY CIRCLES, based on techniques developed by Roadside Theater, Norton, VA.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? Hint: They’re Everywhere, They Don’t Come Whole, and They Need You
I also enjoy doing readings from my books, monologues, and excerpts from my plays, selected to fit the occasion.