Fiction, Matt Burgess
This workshop will be descriptive rather than prescriptive. You will not have a group of people telling you how to rewrite your story. Instead, we will describe how your story is working—focusing on basic elements of narrative craft such as plot structures, characterization, and point-of-view—so that you can make your own best decisions on how to revise. We will also conduct short, in-class writing exercises designed to stretch your creative muscles, make you more comfortable with experimentation, and serve as raw material for future stories.
Fiction, Patricia Henley
Writing the Memorable Short Story
This workshop is about possibilities and choices short story writers make. You may bring a draft of a story already written or you may come with only an idea for a story. In early drafts, everything you write should feel malleable. We will focus on how to use the tools of craft—point-of-view, sensory description, character development, your sense of place, and structure–to make your story publishable and unforgettable.
Poetry, Elizabeth Arnold
In this workshop, you will read other students’ poems as well as poems by past and present masters from a short anthology I will provide. The conversation will span centuries as student work is discussed in the context of the best poetry that’s been written. You will learn how to make choices for your poems, and how revision is an ongoing process. You will write in a handful of forms in the evenings, and these newer poems will be discussed as well as poems you bring with you to the conference. My hope is that you will leave the workshop with a fuller appreciation of the possibilities for your writing than you had on entering it.
Screenwriting, Richard Wiebe
This course will introduce students to the art and craft of screenwriting. As the number of books on screenwriting attests (and your own experience may validate), there is no single formula for creating a successful screenplay. In this course we will survey a variety of strategies while emphasizing the application (or abandonment) of these strategies in your own work.
The objective for this course will be to create, through drafting and revision, 10-20 pages of a self-contained short script, a television pilot, or progress towards a feature-length screenplay. Students may wish to adapt work they have already written in another form (essay, poem, story, novel, etc.). Students may also wish to base their screenplay on a historical event, literary work, or generate an entirely new story altogether. No prior knowledge is assumed. This course is for aspiring screenwriters or it may offer a unique opportunity for writers of poetry or prose to engage with cinematic writing.
Songwriting, Crystal Brandt
Combine lyrics, melody, and performance and you’ve got a song. Add style, heart, and unity — all of those elements working together — and you’ve got the makings of a great song. In this workshop, we will work towards the latter by sharing original songs in a supportive and constructive space, listening for and reflecting on the poetry that lives between the words and music, and participating in exercises that will invigorate and sustain your individual songwriting practice. What can our favorite songs teach us about our own skill and effort, craft and connection? How can we use that information to build songs that preserve the integrity and energy of inspiration while fine-tuning structure and technique? Is there really a secret chord? We’ll explore these questions and more. All skill levels, voices, and genres welcome.
Introduction to Literary Translation, Heather Green
Would you like to try your hand at literary translation? Writers with all levels of writing experience and moderate language-skills in at least one other language can participate in this multi-genre, polyglot workshop. Bring a text you’d like to translate (or I’ll help you find one before the workshop begins), and we’ll take a variety of approaches to the task: we’ll read a few essays on translation, and, using the essays as our jumping off point, discuss some of the major cultural and craft issues of literary translation. We’ll consider model translations, attempt a few “translation exercises,” and, in the second half of the week, give focused time to your own efforts in a cooperative workshop.
Creative Nonfiction, Angela Pelster
This workshop will be a supportive discussion and examination of participant’s writing, as well as an exploration of some of the major forms and styles within the genre.
Youth Workshop, Matthew Henry Hall
In this workshop, high school aged conference attendees will explore poetry, fiction, personal narrative, and playwriting. Students will read and write in traditional forms such as sonnets, villanelles, short stories, standard memoirs, and plays as well as read and use less traditional forms and techniques— prose poems, automatic writing, cut-ups, magical realism and first-person journalism as well as writing scripts for television, movies, and graphic novels. This workshop’s fast-paced and wide-ranging literary tour will help young adult writers discover the literature, which truly inspire their lives and writing.
“Lonely No More: The Art of Collaboration”
Writing is a mostly solitary endeavor, and besides the workshop, it can seem like the only way to work with other writers is to edit their work, which can be a lonely business. This lecture will discuss and explore options to collaborate with other writers and artists through formal experimentation or full-on collaboration.
“What Makes a Song Great?”
We’ve all been there: a music-loving friend guarantees that you will absolutely love their new favorite song as much as they do. Just listen to it, they say, cueing it up. What happens next — love, hate, ambivalence, or indifference — is the subject of this craft lecture. We’ll look at the space between the songwriter’s intention and the listener’s reception as we explore what makes a song great, how and why greatness happens, and who gets to decide.
Kate Briggs defines the role of translator as “writer of new sentences on the close basis of others, producer of relations.” Heather Green will propose some of the joys and difficulties of translation, and we’ll attempt a short translation together.
“Writing Movies for Sound”
Though often described as a visual medium, cinema has always depended on sound. This talk offers an alternative history of cinema by questioning the assumption that film is or has ever been an art of images. Combining lecture, discussion, and a workshop we will cover strategies designed to improve our listening alongside conceptual approaches to writing movies (or other works) for sound.
“Telling It Like It Is: Writing in the First-Person”
Alice Munro once told an interviewer that she keeps revising until her stories sound like autobiography. That’s something to love about her early stories, especially. And Wally Lamb says: “I like to write first-person because I like to become the character I am writing about.” Too many times, first-person stories are rejected or fall flat because the writer hasn’t truly inhabited the character. We tend to write our first drafts of first person stories as if the writer is the character. In this talk, Patricia will provide examples from first person stories and novels wherein the characters jump off the page into the reader’s heart. Come prepared to do some writing.
“How to Plot a Novel”
As a group, over the course of an hour, with much second-guessing and argument, we will plot an original novel from start to finish.
“Fact and Feeling: Strategies Toward a Disciplined Lyric”
Lyric poetry is not pure lyricism. It’s a mix of many ways of speaking, ranging from near-prose to near-song, each level of intensity of language enhancing the power of the others. How to manage these various ways of speaking and their interactions will be the focus of this talk. Poets discussed will include Louise Glück, Emily Dickinson, George Oppen, and Frank Bidart.
Matthew Henry Hall
“Improv + Writing”
What can writers learn from improv? Find out at this extremely interactive Craft Talk. First, we will go over the basics of improv. Volunteers then will get a chance to do basic improv warm-ups, then two-person scenes. As we go, we’ll discuss as a group the benefits of these activities for writers.
Note: Participation in the improv exercises is not required but will (most likely) be extremely fun.