“Michele Barker was good enough to come down to teach my high school advanced fiction class, and the session was just wonderful! She provided materials that showed them in a very real way what revision is really about. Then walked them through the material and talked to them about the material. So not only was it engaging but incredibly helpful. The students had a wonderful time with the writing exercise that Michele designed specifically to illustrate the material she was covering. This was one of the most productive and successful visits ever.”
–Barbara Greenbaum, Arts at the Capitol Theater Magnet High School, Willimantic, CT
“Having M.P. Barker visit your classroom is a perfect way to show students how content reading can benefit the reading of fiction. She described how she researched for her two novels by showing various examples of certain texts from that time. Also shared were her writing strategies and even a calendar of events for the story which helped her to stay on track. These real-life examples of editing and revising truly spoke to my students about the importance of those steps in their writing.”
–Mary Munsell, East Granby (CT) Middle School
“Thank you so much, Michele, for presenting to my class once more. Your visits continue to be the highlight of the semester for my students. As you know, the college freshmen who place into my developmental reading classes are often discouraged and frustrated readers. Many admit that yours is the first book they’ve ever read cover to cover, and they credit your anticipated visit to our class as their motivation. As a published author, you rank a certain level of “celebrity” for them, and meeting you face to face makes them feel important, makes reading your book important. And you never disappoint. You are professional yet approachable, and your amicable, unassuming manner puts them immediately at ease. You bring not only the book to life for them, but the history as well. … Thank you again, Michele, for making a difference.”
– Paula Bernal, Developmental Reading & Writing Instructor, Springfield Technical Community College
“Michele’s presentation to first year college students was quite revealing and surprised some of the students who had no idea how difficult writing could be. Her knowledge of and skill in historical research contributed to the creation of a highly interesting book so germane to today’s problems of conflict and resolution. This is a great book to teach critical thinking skills!”
– S.M. Santucci, Adjunct Professor, Holyoke Community College, Cambridge College
Comments from Students:
“…[T]he fact that a 700 page manuscript became a 300ish page novel floors me. I know cutting extra stuff out is a big part of editing/revision, but I can’t believe all that information can be dumped with enough to still make a coherent and compelling novel. I was also surprised at how many rejections you can get before you get one acceptance- and how far you still have to go before publication. I really liked learning about her method of organization, and that there is no wrong way to organize unless you leave it unorganized….I also greatly admire how much research was put into those books. That’s a step I tend to forget, but it really makes all the difference. Nothing is worse than reading something and thinking the author doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
“One thing I learned from Michele being here, is that there are a lot of different things that can be done to keep organized. I liked her method with the calendar, where she had pieces of paper with the scene attached to the days they were happening, like a timeline…One thing I will try and use in my writing as I move through this revision phase is to rewrite my pieces at least three times. Also to write down questions I have as I’m writing about possible new ideas and characters, because it could help me later in the process if I get stuck.
“I was surprised by how relatable her revision and editing process story was. I found a lot of my habits in her presentation. It was kind of like an, “Oh, I’m not the only one,” type of thing. I was also really surprised on how much she was able to cut down. 700 pages to 300 is an insane difference….I loved how she organized almost her entire book into sections that would really help me not be intimidated by editing a book that long. All of her organization techniques were fascinating. They way she cut her book into a timeline, her evaluation sheets, even her rejection letters were organized. I could tell that all of that organization really helped her, and maybe if I ever get stuck on revision I’ll organize everything too… She really improved on her writing when she took a second glance and rewrote what she was trying to say/get across. I think that would be a good strategy if I ever get stuck on something, or I am not liking how something is coming out. It’s a good ‘refresh’ button.”
“I couldn’t believe how much she had to cut down on her book- from 700 pages to-what-350? Good grief! Also, I was surprised how she actually started writing the book. Bribed with dinners! Ha! Oh! Here’s one more- I was taken off guard to learn that one of her methods for revising her work was tables. The scene, the purpose of the scene, how to make it better, etc. How clever is that? I learned a lot of things, but the one that sticks with me the most is ‘show, don’t tell.'”
“One thing that surprised me was her ability to shrink her work, I know personally within the 2-4 pages I write I get attached to unnecessary sentences so I can only imagine how many she had to get rid of if she started out with 700 pages and end with 300…One thing I learned was that strategy and organization in writing is more important than I thought. Like the charts she used to keep track of where her characters were was neat and definitely something I might try while writing longer pieces.”
“I learned that changing the point of view of a piece can really alter it (i.e. what I did with my drafts) and that there is no such thing as revising too many times. I also learned that cutting down pieces of a draft does not mean that a scene was bad, it just means that it wasn’t as important as the others…I’m probably going to use the calendar timeline that she brought in. I have a lot of issues with orienting my stories in time, especially if I’m doing time skips and things, and it looked like (and from what she said, was) a very helpful tool.”
“1 thing that surprised me: How organized she was. That board she had with the time line of her story was very thorough, it was almost a story in itself.
“1 thing I learned: There is a fine line between having too little research and too much research. You can’t dump information on your reader and expect them to stick around for very long.
“1 thing I’ll apply to my writing as we go through this revision phase: Organization. I thought it was astounding how much detail that Michele went into in planning how her story would go. But even with all that paper, she kept it all in one place and organized.”