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
Telling the Stories Only You Can Tell
Almost all writers work from autobiography to some extent. How closely do we cleave to fact? How can a story be true to your concerns and obsessions and still be fiction, an account of your own life that wonʼt make your relatives give you the silent treatment at your next Thanksgiving dinner? We will examine and employ ways to let go of what actually happened to enrich the story with new, meaningful layers. This is a short story workshop where we will generate new material and work on aspects of stories you may already have written.
Poetry, Elizabeth Arnold
The workshop will focus on student poems with a steely concentration on the words on the page. A look at poems of past and present masters will be made as relevant.
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.
“Grit and Beginner’s Mind”
Patricia will talk about how to develop grit and other attitudes necessary for a long term writing practice.
“Sentence Makes Sense, and so Can Not-Sentence”
Some poems depend on the sentence to drive their content, to BE that content in the sense that sentences can move seductively or stop. Other poems avoid sentences altogether. This talk will explore the difference in poems by such poets as William Shakespeare, Thom Gunn, Basil Bunting, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and C.K. Williams.
This talk will explore how other art forms – painting, film, music – can inform and evolve our own writing practice.
In this lecture, Matt Burgess will discuss openings–first pages, first paragraphs, first lines–and some of the effective strategies writers employ to get readers to take that first step through the door. Authors under consideration may include Homer, Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bishop, and Roxane Gay.
Matthew Henry Hall
“’Dear _______’ A Brief History of Letter-Writing & Its Place in Art, Literature and Daily Lives”
Letter-writing—defined here as using a pen or pencil or hunk of coal or, in more modern times, a typewriter, to get one’s thoughts down—used to be, and not that long ago either, the primary form of written communication between two people. Shocking! (Insert gasping emoji.) Attendees will be encouraged to write an actual letter on paper to a person of their choice as well as hear a lively (and very brief) history of what we now call the postal service and its use by writers, artists, and others as a way to discuss ideas, observations, theories, and work as well as expressing their love for someone else. Finally, we’ll consider letter-writing as a literary device (i.e., epistolary novels, etc.) and, in an open discussion, how that’s changed with contemporary works that use electronic communication in their texts.
“Home-Ground: Developing your sense of place”
In your novel or short story or memoir, you want to create what John Gardner called “the vivid and continuous dream.” That is your responsibility to your reader. Storytellers have long rooted stories in particular places to create the dream. In this talk, Patricia will share strategies for paying close attention to the places you feel deep affinity for. Come prepared to do some writing.
“Prosody: Iambic Meter”
We will focus on how rhythm works in poems written in iambic meter. The way a strong wind running against a river’s current causes whitecaps, rhythm driving against the mathematical norm of iambic meter can produce incredible force, just as the meter’s restraint can actually increase the power of what might otherwise be an unwieldy, dissipated rhythm. Getting hold of these very visceral dimensions of iambic poetry will not only unlock for you the vitality of formal poems; it will grant access to a new source of energy in your free verse poems.
“The Magic of The Everyday”
This talk will explore the ways writers transform their routine, daily lives, even the boring bits, into art.
In this craft talk, Matt Burgess will engage us in a (let’s hope) dynamic and constructive dialogue about dramatic and exciting dialogue. Examples will range across plays, novels, and poetry.
Matthew Henry Hall
“Creating Idiosyncratic Characters & Works-In-Progress Scenes (or ‘Test Your Characters and Scenarios Out—With Real People’)”
We’ll look at some basics of improv and ways to create extremely idiosyncratic characters. Then fiction and creative non-fiction writers will get a chance to direct our volunteer actors to try out a scene from a work-in-progress in real time. Participation in the improv exercises is not required but will (most likely) be extremely fun.