Writing Workshops

The author is available to lead writing workshops for adults and teenagers. The workshops focus on background knowledge, practical advice and encouragement. Contact jtedmorrissey [at] gmail [dot] com for details. Possible topics include the following:

The basics of storytelling: Character, plot, setting, dialogue, point of view.

The natural world as setting, and exploring the seasons.

Researching for historical narratives.

Exploiting our primal fears in writing.

How to write about intimacy.

Genre-crossing narratives.

The nuts-and-bolts of submitting for publication

The Brave New World of publishing: print on demand (POD), Kindle, Nook, PDF and more.

November 8, 2015 … Beginnings and Endings: Writing the Trickiest Parts of Narrative @ Vachel Lindsay State Historic Site, 1 to 3 p.m. (Registration information)

For many people writing short stories, narrative essays, memoirs and novels, the two most challenging aspects are composing a beginning that starts at an effective point and grabs the reader’s attention, and composing an ending that satisfies the reader’s expectations and avoids being merely repetitive. This workshop will offer tips for overcoming these hurdles as well as examples of especially effective beginnings and endings from published works of literature.

October, 2014 … How to Write about Intimacy (or How Not to) @ Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site

Writers have to be prepared to take their narrative wherever it wants to lead, and oftentimes it’s leading them to the bedroom, beach or backseat. No matter whether you’re writing popular or literary fiction, there are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing about intimacy. This workshop will draw from some of the masters of contemporary narrative and discuss what techniques help create effectively evocative scenes, and which techniques feel forced and fall flat.

July, 2014 … Teen Summer Writing Camp @ Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site & Benedictine University, Springfield, Illinois

Teen writers will study and practice the basics of storytelling, including how to create interesting characters, intriguing settings, workable plots and fast-paced dialogue. Discussion will include inventing original characters and storylines, and borrowing from and playing with existing fictional creations. Everybody loves a great story, and these sessions will help participants get those great stories on paper.

May 17, 2014 … Writing the Great American Novel @ Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, Springfield, Illinois

Topics will include the short story collection, the conceptual novel, the novel, the novella and other long forms.

December 8, 2013 … Facing Fear in Your Writing @ Dana Thomas House, Springfield, Illinois

Do you fear a blank page?  Many writers do.  But have you ever considered the psychological underpinnings of fear and how you might incorporate a deeper knowledge of fear into your writing?  This workshop explores our primal fears and how writers can weave those fears into their narratives.  Participants will read examples of writing that taps into these deep-seated emotions and practice exploiting these fears themselves via specific exercises.

November 13, 2013 … Natural Narrative: Incorporating Research into Historical Narrative @ Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, Springfield, Illinois

The devil is truly in the details when it comes to writing historical fiction.  This session discusses how to target research for the needs of your writing, and how to integrate those historical details into your narrative without weighing it down with unnecessary factoids.

February 9, 2013 … Writing Through Winter: Seeking the Bone Structure of the Landscape @ Lincoln Memorial Garden, Springfield, Illinois

How images and objects associated with winter can help you generate narrative in the form of memories and linked associations.  The session will also experiment with how different senses trigger narrative, and participants will draw conclusions regarding specific senses, like smell or touch, and the potency of the memories they evoke.

October 6, 2012 … The Tonic of Wilderness: Incorporating the Natural @ Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, Springfield, Illinois

Discussion of environment in Fiction and Nonfiction

Summer 2012 … Who’s Afraid of Being a Writer? @ The Pharmacy Art Center, Springfield, Illinois

Thickening the Plot with Some Real Characters