"A novel is really like a symphony," Katherine Anne Porter once said, "where instrument after instrument has to come in at its own time, and no other." Whether you’re working on conventional or experimental fiction, your novel is shaped by the instruments you choose: the scenes you select and extend, the voices in which you describe them, and your treatment of narrative time. In this workshop, we will examine your novel excerpt (of no more than 20 double-spaced pages) for both technique and the critical impulses that inspire a long work of fiction. What pressures exist in your work that create novelistic tension, and how can these pressures be further exploited? What is your novel accomplishing in its narrative tracks, character arcs, and structural shape? For any writer who has completed several polished chapters or a first draft of a novel, this workshop will help you evaluate how your approach to the novel is working for you and offer you ideas for development and revision.
Instructor: Fred Leebron, advanced fiction
As readers, when we settle in with a novel, we make a commitment. Whether it delivers sympathetic characters, moving situations, or gorgeous prose, if we are drawn in, we are usually drawn in for good, for days on end. A novel is also the most forgiving form of storytelling we have—inherently generous, comfortable and satisfying in its depth— and perhaps the most daunting to begin. In this workshop, we will focus on finding a manageable way to look at the broad story from the very early stages. How do we choose a compelling place to open and a compelling point of view from which to see everything we need to see? What do these choices tell us about what is to come, and how quickly we need to come to it? Bring a loose outline and a draft of your first chapter. Leave with a plan.
Instructor: Ashley Warlick, fiction
This class examines what strong poetry does, but also what it might still do. To that end, we will look at some traditional poetic techniques and sample some experimental forms. As we discuss and analyze your writing, we will work to strengthen the foundations of our poetic craft while asking how we might venture into new formal territory. This course is geared both toward students who are just starting to write poetry and toward those with experience who are looking to reinvigorate their practice. Expect some outside reading/writing, in-class exercises, and of course workshop of student poems. Special topics this year include meter, the poetic fragment, and titles. Participants should bring 10 pages of their poetry (at least three poems).
Instructor: Nick Lantz, poetry, all levels
Few writers enjoy learning that a magazine or journal has "passed" on work to which they’ve devoted long hours and much energy, and yet most writers will experience exponentially more rejection in their writing lives than acceptance. This short fiction workshop is designed for writers who don’t want to give up on manuscripts that have been turned down and want to see in rejection an opportunity to revise and develop stories, but now with the clearer, sharper vision that comes from knowing that at least one editor, for reasons that may or may not have been specified, loved it less than the writer does. In this workshop we'll approach rejection as a positive part of a story's progress from draft to published work. We’ll do our best to identify what each writer has succeeded in accomplishing in his or her story as well as what stood in the way of its publication. Writers should bring to the workshop a fiction manuscript of no more than 18 pages and, if possible, one or more of the rejection letters it garnered. Together we’ll help one another’s stories reach the larger audiences they want and, I believe, deserve.
Instructor: Dan Mueller, intermediate to advanced
Making successful poems requires the writer to read the drafts as mysteries. To shape a poem's energies, we must let its energies shape our shaping. It is a dance of both proximity and distance, vision and blindness. This workshop invites poets with experience and a mature sense of aesthetic persuasion to explore the delicate art of tapping into a poem's urgencies, a kind of open heart surgery. We will grow more familiar with the anatomy and texture of poetry: image, word, diction, voice, syntactical configurations, rhetorical devices, and matters of form and tradition — stanza, line, punctuation, and page. In addition to having our poems read and discussed, we will read widely and closely poems from across the ages as well as read essays on craft. To be considered, please submit no more than six poems and a 200-word description of what you hope to gain from the workshop to email@example.com.
Instructor: Thorpe Moeckel, advanced poetry
Writerly evolution most frequently takes place as a series of great evolutionary leaps: writers - often inspired by some profound challenge or undertaking - find themselves suddenly, swiftly, and significantly advanced in their art. This workshop, through challenging writing exercises, far-ranging discussion, and intense scrutiny of participants' manuscripts, will endeavor to induce just such an evolutionary leap. Prepare to leave the class both exhausted and changed.
Instructor: Pinckney Benedict, intermediate to advanced
This workshop is for people writing about crucial difficult experiences and about the moments when one way of thinking about one’s life stops, and another begins. Difficulty, or crisis, disrupts the “continuously rewritten autobiography we all carry with us in our minds,” as Charles L. Mee writes. Writing can be the bridge, the way to connect up the story again. Writing about crisis can be the way to move forward in our writing lives, creating new wholeness in narratives and meditations. And crisis writing allows us to explore difficulty. It allows us to explore fresh territory as we articulate what happened, how it felt and what we think about it now. We will aim for accuracy, insight, and discovery. We will try to create writing about difficulty that is as urgent and compelling on the page as the experience feels in our lives. The workshop will focus on experimenting with the technical elements of artful nonfiction, and creating original, distinctive work. We will read each other’s work closely and try daily writing exercises for revision and generating new material. We will also read and discuss essays and memoir excerpts as time allows. Please bring a manuscript to share (up to 15 double-spaced pages).
Kathryn Rhett, creative nonfiction, all levels
This intensive and challenging workshop will guide screenwriters through the entire screenwriting process: idea, story, structure, scenes, dialogue, pacing, etc. In short, the elements of a professional grade screenplay (or television pilot). And for those adapting a novel, short story, or play, we will review fundamental strategies for writing a successful adaptation. The workshop also involves the practical analysis of feature-length screenplays and movies to see what works and what does not, and considerable time table reading and workshopping pages. We will also look at proven methods for writing a strong logline and synopsis. The logline and synopsis are arguably the biggest selling tools a writer uses, yet they are often overlooked by emerging screenwriters. It is recommended that students arrive with a short synopsis, the first 10-25 pages of their screenplay, and a beat sheet or treatment for that screenplay.
Khris Baxter, all levels
"I wish I knew then what I know now," might be reason enough to set your pen to paper. The memoirist Sven Birkerts says, "I need to give the reader both the unprocessed feeling of the world as I saw it then and a reflective vantage point that incorporates or suggests that these events made a different kind of sense over time." In this workshop we’ll focus on those events that gave our lives shape and how our writing might help us review "now" at we experienced "then." Whether you’re leaning toward the narrative of memoir or the reflection and focus in personal essay, we’ll look at how to craft both showing and telling, with an eye on timing, balance, and reader engagement. Open to all levels, this workshop will offer examples, reading assignments and/or exercises if needed, a sympathetic audience, and individual conferences. Please bring one or two examples (up to 20 pages double spaced) of your work in progress.
Instructor: James McKean, creative nonfiction, all levels