School Visits and Presentations
I enjoy talking to students. The look on their faces when they get something, when they understand that all conflicts are shaped like a triangle, or the importance of a secret, or why the hero can’t be perfect -- that’s worth a lot. My topic is always some aspect of story: where they come from, and how we can understand our own and other people’s.
I give a number of inter-active presentations highlighting the importance of our own experience in the genesis of our story, and how to combine truth and technique to create a consistent and credible narrative.
I’ll talk to any size group, but a typical size might be 60-100. For a smaller group (class size or smaller) of seniors or high-school students, I offer writing workshops, with exercises on dialogue, characterization, and plotting.
My presentations are interactive. Mostly they’re funny. All involve bringing out your personal story. I truly believe that the better you know your story, the more integrated you are as a person in society. And the more stories we know, the better off we are as a society.
How My Presentations Work
I explain where I get my ideas, and show how their experience is like mine. Then there’s a little play-acting, and audience participation in a read-along.
I’ll tell them a story, explaining techniques I use to pull the audience into the action. We’ll build a story together, using some of those techniques. And I’ll end with a reading or two designed to illustrate a point I’ve made.
I’ll start with the emotional truth behind every story – the dark places inside us where stories lurk. I’ll talk about twisting the truth. Then we’ll put together a story from bits and pieces and discover what works, what doesn’t, and why.
There are exercises I like to use to facilitate plot-building. We’ll discuss the four kinds of writing necessary to tell a story, and what the writer needs to bring to each kind. We’ll talk about the basic story ideas in Western literature, the different types of protagonist and antagonist, the role of the narrator, the importance of voice.
I have written picture books, and mid-school, YA, and adult novels. I’ve written non-fiction articles and features, screenplays, plays and poems. I’ve addressed crowds so big they had to be teleconferenced, and groups so small they could all have fit in a closet. There is no one I won’t talk to.