Teaching Kit

Classroom and Book Club Resources

I have almost finished a booklet of discussion questions and multi-disciplinary activity plans that I’ve been working on for teachers and book groups that want a guided way to get inside the book and its various layers. That booklet will be posted here shortly – I’m just putting the finishing touches on it.

Talks

I am also asked regularly to give talks, lead workshops, or teach classes. Here’s the list of what I’ve already got prepared, and of course, if you’d like me to explore a different topic, I’m happy to put something together.

Workshops and Classes

I believe that many writing students tackle too much, too quickly in their zeal to become writers, and as a result, they end up taking longer than might be necessary to reach the first plateau of competence. Typically, they start by diving into short stories and novels right away. After all, they’ve been reading these things for most of their lives, right? So what’s the problem? But the more time I spend trying to teach writing, the more I’ve come to realize that this approach dramatically complicates the learning process. Suppose you wanted to build houses for a living. You’ve lived in them all your life, you’re an expert house user, so you should be totally qualified to just dive right in and build them too, right?

Of course not. Putting it in those terms, it does seem kind of silly, doesn’t it? I realize that many other writers and writing teachers like to dive right into stories and/or novels, and I’m not saying they’re wrong. I just haven’t been able to figure out how to teach that way myself, so I don’t. How can I recommend to a newbie writer, who still hasn’t mastered scene description or consistent POV, that they invest in all the work that goes into a first novel? There’s so much they haven’t yet learned that the result is entirely unlikely to be satisfying, and it’s going to take so long to get there.

So, I have to do it my way, and my approach is designed to focus the learning to where it can be both rewarding and instructive, without ever being daunting.