Sample Sessions For Young Adult Or Adult Writers

Check out the sample sessions below. Each one can be leveled for your group and adjusted to fit your timeframe, including a multiple-day writer-in-residence workshop, depending on the activities you ask me to present. These sessions are adaptable for educators, librarians, and other adult learners. Roll up your sleeves, sharpen your pencils, and let’s write!

  • Ages 15 and up
  • Teacher or organization representative must be available on site
  • References available
  • MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults (Hamline University), Minnesota substitute teaching license and background check on file

Postcard Flash Fiction

Let your creativity wander to faraway places to help you write fun short-short stories. Using actual postcards from around the world for inspiration, you’ll write flash fiction that combines all the usual literature elements—setting, plot, and character—in less than 500 words. We’ll talk about what makes a story and how to give it flair without a lot of fluff. Where will your writing go? Requires supplies: Writing paper, scissors, pencils, colored pencils, or markers. I’ll bring the postcards.

Mining The Memories

Family heritage, activities, traditions and even foods can generate a wealth of memories. Mining these memories might reveal the nugget of a story. Using a segment of 1960s footage (found long after Storm Codes was written), we’ll see how a childhood event and many happy memories growing up near Lake Superior triggered a whole load of questions about Grandpa Harvey’s life as a captain on the Great Lakes—which later inspired the fictional story in Storm Codes. Requires supplies: Writing paper, pen or pencil, or computer; I’ll bring writing prompts.

To Tell The Truth

Telling a true story in a publishable way requires careful fact-finding blended with the craft of creative writing. Take a look at outstanding nonfiction books for models and inspiration, and work through the nonfiction writing process, starting with subject selection and research focus. Choose a structure and sketch an outline for your nonfiction book. Explore how various principles of writing craft can infuse your nonfiction work with the qualities that engage readers and appeal to editors. Requires supplies: writing paper, pen or pencil, or computer; access to WiFi is helpful for research.

Hack, Tweak, & Polish: DIY Revision Workshop

Even if you belong to an amazing writers’ group, you must tackle your manuscript revision by yourself. Grab a red pen, roll up your sleeves, and open your eyes to new ways of seeing your work. We’ll discuss various revision approaches that apply to all types of writing. Learn how to focus on the heart of the story with tips and techniques that hack out fluff, fine-tune voice, and tweak characters, plot, and setting. Then see how you can painlessly polish every line using various self-editing concepts, such as E-prime (English without to-be verb forms). No English degree required. Requires supplies: Writing paper, pen or pencil, or computer.

Back Matter Matters

"Extra" text at the front or back of nonfiction and fiction children’s books has become more common in recent years than ever before. It’s even expected for some types of books, such as biographies. Take a “book walk” with us and see examples of this increasingly important content. Learn why it matters to publishers, readers, teachers, and writer. We’ll talk about what information you might consider featuring in your back matter, creative ways to present it, and when to share ideas for support material with your agent and editor. More than a footnote in your writing, back matter matters!

What's So Funny About Nonfiction?

Lighten up, nonfiction writers, and let’s have some fun with the truth. Explore humor as a way to make a nonfiction manuscript engaging and memorable. We’ll take some cues from the pros and experiment with techniques for tickling funny bones. No comedy experience required, but you’re highly encouraged to wear a smile to this session.

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