Writing Workshops and Talks by Jeni Mawter

Bookings/Enquiries can be made through the ‘Contact Jeni’ Page on this Website

“Jeni’s enthusiasm for stories is infectious.”

Jeni Mawter (J.A. Mawter) is the popular children’s author of the hilarious ‘So’ series: So Gross!, So Feral!, So Sick!, So Festy!, So Grotty! and So Stinky! (HarperCollins) as well as the Freewheelers series: Unleashed!, Launched! and Extreme! (HarperCollins). She has published picture books There’s a Sun fairy in Our Garden (Axiom) and The Snugglebump Jump (Wombat Books), as well as fiction, non-fiction, poetry and verse narrative for the education market. Kiss Kill, a young adult transmedia novel was published in 2012 (Really Blue Books).

Jeni runs workshops for Primary and High School students and their teachers, university students and adults who’d like to learn more.

For many years Jeni has taught at Writing Centres through NSW, including The Australian Writer’s Centre, Lavender Bay, Sydney. See www.writerscentre.com.au

Australian Writer's Centre  Creative Writing Presenter
Australian Writer’s Centre
Creative Writing Presenter
Creative Writing Stage 1 and 2  Student comments
Creative Writing Stage 1 and 2
Student comments
Writing persuasive texts - presenting with Literature Live
Writing persuasive texts – presenting with Literature Live


The Language of Persuasion

Persuasive texts express an opinion or a point of view. They can discuss and evaluate, argue, inform and    entertain. Depending on the audience and the purpose of the text, they can be formal or informal. This workshop will briefly outline how to structure a persuasive text, then the major focus will be on persuasive language techniques. It will give students the knowledge to improve their performance when writing a persuasive text.

Writing Humour

In our culture it is said that a good book makes you cry, but according to Jeni Mawter, creator of the hilarious ‘So’ series, a good book should also make you laugh. Because sad things are universal, writing a sad story can be easy. Writing one that is funny across cultures and ages is a challenge. In this workshop Jeni will show how characters and situa­tions create humour. Using a variety of texts, from narrative to poetry, to recounts or persuasive texts students will learn the complexities of writing humour. Join Jeni as she reveals how humour in a text is an effective tool to engage even the most unwilling audience!


The Making of a Picture Book: The Snugglebump Jump

In this beautiful picture book, written by Jeni Mawter and illustrated by Sarah Rowan Dahl, a child anticipates the birth of a new baby with impatience, wonder and joy. Bursting with excitement that their Snug­glebump will soon be born the child’s joy is contagious. Join Jeni as she celebrates the ‘birth’ of The Snugglebump Jump and talks about the creative process behind picture books. Students will also gain knowl­edge and understanding about feelings, methods of communication, values and good health when learning about the changing structure of this family. This is a fun, interactive and educational workshop.

The Snugglebump Jump
The Snugglebump Jump
Launch of The Snugglebump Jump at the NSW Writer's Centre
Launch of The Snugglebump Jump at the NSW Writer’s Centre

Other Workshops:

How to Fix a Broken Story

Boring stories are hard to fix, but a broken story can always be mended. As writers our job is to compel a reader to care about our story. If they don’t care, we lose them.Attendees will learn what makes a compelling, why their story may not be working and, what can be done to fix it. We will explore how to create interesting characters and how to include a character’s journey in the story. A change in a plot can breathe life into the most broken story. During this workshop Jeni will teach students a simple but effective plotting technique. Attendees will learn to reflect on and analyse their own texts, and acquire skills to ‘fix’ their story should it be broken.

Writing Adventure

Do you dream of conquering the high seas or being stranded on a desert island? Would they like to battle mysterious creatures or stop a crime ring? Then adventure writing is for you! In this workshop you will explore faraway or exotic locations. You will learn that when writing adventure characters have problems to solve and obstacles to struggle against until they achieve their goal.

Where to Find a Story

‘I don’t know what to write about!’ What do you do when every good story idea jumps out of your head? A Story is what (characters) do or experience in some place (setting) at some time (event). It is up to the writer to choose how best to tell the story and make decisions about form (poem, play or narrative), genre (horror, fantasy, historical, sci fi, romance, thriller, realistic, mystery, gothic), characters (narrator, point of view), time frame, settings, events etc. Using a variety of genres, texts and characters you will discover that stories can be found anywhere.

The Reluctant Poet

A poem is a story told in imagery. The writer shares an experience, idea or feeling. Poets choose words and music (rhyme, alliteration, assonance, rhythm, repetition, framing and pauses) to create meaning. All this can overwhelm the reluctant poet. In this workshop Jeni will explore free verse in a fun and interactive way so that attendees can discover the poet within.

Writing for Young Adults: Acne is Optional. Attitude is not. (Full Day Course)

Who do we mean by Young Adults? What makes a YA book different to an adult book and what is a crossover book? Themes explored will be loneliness, alienation, relationships, drug use, multiculturalism, threats to social order, a search for personal values and the destruction of the environment. How far can you go with issues such as sexuality, drug and alcohol use and abuse, peer pressure, other forms of abuse, violence, divorce, illness and death, and gay relationships? This course will give an overview of writing, from dialogue and point of view, to plot, setting, and character construction. We will discover how to find the right voice for a YA novel. Please bring writing materials, memorabilia from your teenage years, a sense of humour and an open mind. Acne is optional.

Transmedia or Multi-platform Storytelling

Traditional storytelling involved ‘Listen, why I tell you a story.’ Transmedia storytelling changes this to ‘Let’s tell a story together’. Today’s readers are adept at reading multi-platform narratives. They are used to reading non-linearly and they are used to interacting with narrative through sharing (social media) and co-creation. Mash-ups are a popular example of co-creation. In this workshop storytellers will learn to consciously provide multiple openings into the story for co-creation and to use multiple platforms to allow for engagement and participation in a variety of storytelling spaces.

Writing a Best-Selling Series

Quote from Rebecca Forster:

“Writing a series is like when a dinner guest becomes a roommate.

Writing the first book is like having a dinner party with exciting and

stimulating guests, carefully planned menu, atmosphere – but the guests get to go home. And you get to put your feet up and relax. Writing a series, the guests stay permanently. You have to think of exciting things for them to do, vary the menu, invite different guests for them to play with.”

In this workshop attendees will look at why you’d write a series over a stand-alone novel, different types of series such as linked or formulaic, pitfalls to avoid when writing a series, and Jeni’s 10 Top Tips for maximizing your series’ success.

How to Write a Short Story

Writing a short story is completely different to a longer narrative. The story must be tight with no unnecessary meanderings. Every word must count. The ‘So’ series, published by HarperCollins, is a collection of short stories. They are all funny and just a little bit gross. To write 30 different gross funny stories posed quite a challenge. I did not have the luxury of common characters or settings – each story had its own characters and plot and spoke with an individual voice. The short story must grab the reader right away and hook them into wanting to read more. Readers will only read a sentence or two to decide if they want to continue so it is vital those first sentences sing.

How to Write an Essay (Things Your Teacher Forgot to Tell You)

Absolutely everyone can write an essay … When they know how!

Did you know you never start writing your essay at the introduction? Did you know that the best essays are written backwards? In this workshop attendees will learn the most frequent mistakes they are making when writing their essays, and what they can do to fix these mistakes. Students will learn about what is expected from different types of essays and Jeni’s Top 15 Essay Writing Tips.

Judging a Literary Award

How often do you buy a book with a big shiny award sticker on it, begin to read, and think ‘The judges got it wrong!’? What is the difference between popular fiction and literary fiction? Literary fiction distinguishes itself in terms of style, appropriateness of form, clarity, skilled use of language and in its sustained development in themes and ideas. It speaks to a certain audience in a way that has literary merit when compared to other published works in a specific category. As a judge of the Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult Literature in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Jeni will share her judging knowledge and experience to help you to understand the judging process.