I love leading writing workshops for authors of all ages. I’ve worked with everyone from federal inmates to fifth-grade ingrates who thought they hated writing until I showed them a few tricks of the trade. Then I couldn’t get them to stop writing. Oh, happy day!
Writing is a messy process. It can be frustrating, too, unless someone shows you how professional writers organize their ideas to form cohesive and compelling narratives. We don’t try to get it right in the first draft. We don’t rely on adjectives and details to tell our stories. Writers are like architects. We build our stories carefully, sentence by sentence, so they can stand tall and evoke an emotional response in the reader.
When I visit schools, I usually do three or four programs.
* a 35-minute session with the K-2 crowd where I talk about how I started writing books as a child and how anyone can write a book if he or she knows the secret recipe for storytelling.
*a 50-minute session with students in grades 3-5 in which I discuss my writing process. I like to share with writers my early failures and how I discovered (the hard way!) what makes a good story, how important it is to send a character on an interesting journey, the critical OH NO! moment in any good story, and why writing is really rewriting.
*One or two 50-minute writing workshops for 30 or fewer students in grades three and above who use the tips and tricks I shared with them during the large-group session to start their own bestselling books.
But I'm happy to structure the day any way you like. I’m also happy to sign books and chat with students and/or teachers over lunch about their books or mine.
For older writers in grades 6 through 12, I like to lead non-fiction workshops where I show students how to write a classic People magazine-style story. I spent fifteen years working as a People correspondent, covering everything from serial killers to serial Sexiest Man Alive, Brad Pitt. I’ve found that teaching students how to write a magazine story helps them to write more compelling essays to use in class or for their college applications.
(Speaking of college applications, this summer I'll be offering a series of workshops for rising high school seniors who are struggling with those college application essays. You can read more about that here.)
If you’d like to discuss any of these workshops, please contact me. My sister, illustrator M. Sarah Klise, also leads workshops on illustration and design. We present together or solo, depending on our schedules and your budget.