It’s a conundrum that has frustrated writers since humans first put chisel to stone: There’s a story inside of you. You know it. You feel it! You know that it’s good and that it can be amazing. But how do you take what you know is a good story and bring it alive on the page?
Your first fifteen pages need to thrust the reader right into the action of the story. Oh, and also inspire an emotional connection to the character. While simultaneously providing just enough description to set the scene—without forgetting to plant some tantalizing questions to keep us turning the pages! Oh, and making the right promises about the story to come, too. And is there any way you could sneak some zesty dialogue in there while you’re at it?
Characters are the center of our stories. Their problems become our problems—and our readers’ problems. Their failures and redemptions give us our plot and themes. So how do we make them into full-bodied, complex leaders of our stories? How do we show our readers who our characters are, inside and out? How do we ensure that we don’t betray our characters by leading them in ways that are not true to the person we have created?
Poetry uses language in a way that is not available to us in everyday life. As with a song, a poem can elevate and capture a specific experience—an image, memory, or sensation—and connect people in a powerful way. Whether you are a practiced poet or a total “newbie” who wonders what poetry is “about,” this workshop will provide a jump-start to get you into a writing practice. Come join us in a supportive, inspiring workshop environment in which we will explore found poetry, song lyrics, spoken word, and literary poetry from a wide range of contemporary authors.
You have a memoir—a life story—that you know needs to be written. But how? There is so much to tackle in crafting a memoir, no matter the length. Where do you begin? How do you shape a memory into a story that engages readers? How do you sustain their interest?
If you want to be a writer, you need to read like a writer. This fact—which might seem obvious—eludes people more often than you would think. In this workshop, we will hone our writing skills by learning how authors influence a reader through structure and style choices, to truly understand how fine pieces of literary fiction are crafted.
Stop putting words in characters’ mouths that are flat and lifeless, inauthentic, or too on-the-nose! Instead, think of a character’s words as weapons in their fight to get what they want.
From romance to mystery and suspense to literary thrillers and domestic dramas—and beyond!—novellas, or short novels typically between 17,500 and 40,000 words, come in a variety of genres. As writers, they offer us the opportunity to create stories that demand focused intensity while also asking that this intensity move beyond a short story’s constraints. In this generative four-week workshop, we will assess the values of the form and explore techniques drawn from excerpts of a variety of published novellas for inspiration.
You are so ready to write a young adult novel. Or maybe you’ve already written one, but you’re not quite sure you’ve figured out how to rock this genre. What makes a YA novel YA? How mature can a YA be? (How much cursing can you get away with? Can characters get hot and heavy on the page, or do you always need to fade to black? What about violence or intense subject matter like rape or drug use?) You might not be sure if you’ve written a YA or a middle grade—perhaps your book feels way less dark than a lot of the stuff you see on the shelves.
In this workshop we’ll learn valuable strategies for revising a personal essay for publication, including shaping a reliable narrator, knowing when (and how) to cut your favorite paragraph, and determining when to ask for feedback (and when to ignore it.) We'll also look at published personal essays and their various stages of revision to give students the opportunity to see an essay go from first draft to publication.