Real writing has meaning. Writing in an exhilarating way to share that meaning.
The focus in too many schools is on using writing as a means to prove what has been learned about another topic. You know what I’m talking about: reports, constructed responses. Kids can make the mistake that writing is boring or meaningless.
I love to share my passion and help people of all ages discover how to take a thought, an emotion, a story, or an insight–whether it’s silly or profound–and pin it to the page so that someone else can read and experience it.
Workshops and Presentations For Children & Teens
Author Visit (Grades 3-8)
Mary takes students on a journey through the writing process. Where do ideas come from? How do journals, webs, and outlines help? Why is revising so important? How does a book get published? Mary concludes with an improvisational “revision” game.
Story-Inventing Workshop (Kindergarten-Grade 3)
Students learn the three-part trajectory of the classic story. Using a theater game, they learn how to construct a story—often with hilarious results. Especially helpful for young, reluctant writers.
The Writer’s Notebook (Grades 3-8)
The writer’s notebook is an important writing tool. Mary explains the difference between diaries and writers’ notebooks, shares material from her childhood diaries as well as writer’s notebooks, shows how to this tool in the writing process, and concludes with a humorous game.
Creating Characters (Grades 3-8)
How does a novelist create and develop characters? Mary shows students her strategies for developing characters and uses improvisational games to help students create and give voice to a character. Literary elements that are covered: voice, point of view, character traits, pre-writing, webbing, and self-questioning.
Mystery-Writing Workshop (Grades 3-8)
Students learn concrete strategies to structure a mystery plot, to develop the characters of the sleuth and the villain, and to create a voice. Mary uses improv techniques to enable students to learn how to simplify. This classroom workshop was developed to be used to support the Montgomery County (MD) fourth grade writing curriculum; however, the workshop is a great learning experience for all schools.
The Chicken of the Family (Preschool and Kindergarten)
Mary shares the story of how she turned a personal experience (being teased) from her own childhood into a picture book and a musical. She reads the book and then involves the audience in a fun improvisation.
Songwriting Workshops (Ages 8-adult)
Mary shares her process for songwriting. She takes participants through the process of brainstorming a topic, crafting a chorus, and considering various angles for verses.
No experience or instrument necessary. For classroom or home.
Workshops and Presentations for Adults
What’s So Funny: Finding and Writing Humor in Children’s Books
Explore elements of humor and push yourself to find and exploit humor in your own writing. We’ll look at the funniest characters, scenes, plots, and language in great children’s books and share our own work as well.
Fresh Eyes and a Sharp Knife: How To Make a Good Story Great
Did you start your book because a childhood memory or a kernel of an idea kept haunting you? Sometimes holding on to that initial impulse is crucial, but sometimes letting it go is even more important. Hear the stories of how one writer moved from “good idea” to “great idea” with both a picture book and a novel and come away with some “how to” strategies to face your next revision.
Using Memory Wisely in Writing Fiction for Children
Children’s book authors often tap into their own memories of childhood to get ideas, inspiration, and even voice. We’ll explore how memory can help and harm us in the fiction writing process. The goal will be to use a memory as a springboard to a fictional work for children. Don’t worry if you can’t remember much about your own childhood! You should leave the workshop with ideas and a set of techniques to help you in the future.
Writing for Voice
What is “voice”? Why is it so important? How do you find it? How do you write with it? Mary analyzes and explores the concept of voice, using samples from her own work and the work of others.
Writing the Soul
Writing is a process that not only enables you to capture life, but also to figure out what it means. In this inspirational talk, Mary Amato reveals how a profound loss led her to journal writing and how that has shaped her as a professional writer and as a person and as a mother of two. Hearing her story will motivate you to write yours.
Breaking into Print
Mary shares advice for writing and publishing articles, stories, and more.
Especially for Teachers
Who Wants to Revise?
When asked to revise work, many students groan or panic. Join Mary Amato as she shares of series of fun, concrete strategies for helping writers to actually look forward to tackling revisions. She’ll also share stories and examples from recent work. You’ll want to pass these tips along to your students (and be inspired to use them in your own writing).
How does a novelist create and develop characters? Mary Amato shows her strategies for developing characters and demonstrates improvisational games to help students create and give voice to a character.
Mary offers an overview of concrete strategies from her more focused workshops (on creating characters, using a writer’s notebook, and revising) that will encourage kids to write.
Mary is available for short and long term teaching residencies in fiction and poetry. These sessions can be designed to support and complement specific objectives in your language arts curriculum. Contact Mary directly for more information.
In conjunction with an author visit, many schools and libraries like to offer book sales/signing. You can order books in quantity at a discount from the publisher, work with your local bookseller, or a bookselling agent. Mary can pass on information regarding this once a visit is booked.