Okay, so I'm going to break my school visit reports down into bite-size chunks.
First up: the fail that is Elana.
Let me just say that I really liked talking to high schoolers. You should do it if you get the chance, see if it's for you.
Tip #1: Talk to the teacher.
No, really. You should find out what kind of school you're visiting. Ask the teacher what kinds of things they've talked to the class about as pertaining to writing.
Find out how many kids will be there. Find out if the teacher's told them you're coming. Find out if what they've been assigned to read, what they like to read for fun. The teacher should know all this.
My biggest failure? Not asking these questions.
If I'd known the teacher had counseled her students to write through writer's block, I wouldn't have told them to play video games when they're stuck. (No lie. And there's a whole post on this coming up. Get excited.)
If I'd known the teacher had told them they have to learn vocabulary even though they don't like it, I would've talked about the importance of vocabulary in YA/dystopian/fantasy writing.
If I'd known the school focused on leadership, and the teacher taught her students about showing leadership in their writing, I would've been able to touch on that during the visit.
I didn't know any of these things. And while the visit still went well, it could've been better if I had known.
So my biggest tip for anyone planning a school visit is to ask questions. Find out as much as you can about the school/class/students, and tailor your lecture to meet their needs. After all, it's always best to teach people, not content.
And there you go. My failures laid bare. I can't even think of a question to ask about this. So, uh, yeah.
But the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE prize package winner is Michelle Merrill! Email me at elanajohnson(at)gmail.com for instructions. Congrats!