For Educators

Counting Backwards Study Guide

School Visits!

I am available for school visits for both middle and high school classrooms in the state of Florida. These interactive sessions  can be made age-appropriate for your class and are customizable to fit your needs. Talks can range from 45 min to 1.5 hrs. Here are just a few examples of the topics I cover:

Storytelling Salad: I will read a brief excerpt either from Counting Backwards or a work-in-progress and ask students to pick out what they liked about it, what they could infer from it about the rest of the story and what worked or didn’t work. We will talk about the importance of sensory detail in writing, the benefits of being more specific, and the role of dialogue and narration in furthering the plot. We will cover the importance of showing, not telling with examples of both. I will then improv with students using various conflicts to illustrate how you can add tension to a scene through dialogue. From those scenarios, we will pick a conflict for students to write their own scene, incorporating two or more characters, three sensory details, and a few lines of dialogue. If time permits, students will be asked to share with the class and we will remark on what the authors did well.

The Business of Publishing: This talk will begin with a personal story about my journey to publication, which highlights the importance of perseverance, patience and hard work. It will also touch on the team effort involved in publishing and the importance of being able to take constructive criticism. I will discuss the rising and exciting prospects of self-publishing and how authors of all kinds incorporate social media into the promotion of their books. If the class has read Counting Backwards, I can answer questions as to how characters were created and why I made the choices I did, and what changes were made along the way with input from others. I will also talk about post-production selection of cover model, title and jacket flap. If time permits, we will brainstorm a promotional platform for a book and incorporate their ideas into the campaign.

Character and Story Development: I will brainstorm with the class as to what makes a compelling character based on the stories they’ve read. Using their input, I will diagram the hero’s journey throughout the novel, using Counting Backwards if they’ve read it or Hunger Games if they’ve not. Together, we will build a unique character profile with needs, wants, fears, past hurts and internal and external obstacles. We will brainstorm conflict and antagonist as well as create supporting characters and talk about how they help, hinder or distract the main character on their journey. Together, we will take the character we created through the narrative arc of our story.

For larger groups, I’m available for readings and Q & As. For more information, contact me at lauralascarso(at)yahoo(dot)com