Our writing workshop program—launched last year—has been a tremendous success and we are excited to continue the program, bringing you low-cost workshops led by celebrated and award-winning writers. Check out our fall lineup below:
Ann Packer: Advanced Fiction Writing
6:30-9pm, Tues. evenings, Sept. 9 - Oct. 14
Gabriel Roth: The Novel
6:30-9pm, Every other Thurs., Sept. 18 - Dec. 4
Patrick Ryan: Young Adult Fiction
6:30-9pm, Every other Tues., Sept. 23 - Dec. 2
Simon Van Booy: Workshop for Beginners
7-9:30pm, Wed. evenings,
Sept. 24 - Nov. 5
Jessica Francis Kane: Finding Your Voice
6:30-9pm, Tues. evenings, Oct. 14 - Nov. 18
Stefan Merrill Block: The Story Laboratory
6:30-9pm, Wed. evenings, Oct. 15 - Nov. 19
Terese Svoboda: Focusing Your Fiction
6:30-9pm, Mon. evenings, Oct. 27 - Dec. 1
by Gabriel Roth
You start by thinking about all the things a novel should do: tell a compelling story, create vivid characters and reveal them in all their particularity, illuminate the human condition in general, reveal ordinary experience with a vividness that enables us to see the familiar world anew, open fresh possibilities for language... you can easily spend a whole afternoon just listing the requirements, and you should.
Then you divide the list into three categories. You can use a new sheet of paper with three columns, or you can just mark the first sheet with three symbols, like maybe an asterisk and a pound sign and a smiley face.
- Category One is “Things I Can Do.”
- Category Two is “Things I Can Maybe Do Without.”
- Category Three is “Things I Need to Learn.”
- And then you go down the Category Three list and set yourself assignments: Describe with startling freshness three things that happened to you today. Make flowcharts of the plots of six novels you admire. Write a scene in which two characters reveal all their hopes and weaknesses in eight lines of dialogue apiece. (I have completed all of these assignments, because description, plot, and dialogue were on my Category Three list.)
We are now offering this 12-week workshop in two successive 6-week sessions. Students have the option of signing up for only one session at a time, or paying a discounted rate for both. Sign up for one of our two offerings this fall and let the murder and mayhem begin!
Session 1: 6:30-9pm, Mon. evenings, Sept. 15 - Oct. 27
Session 2: 6:30-9pm, Mon. evenings, Nov. 4 - Dec. 8
by Ann Packer
I’ve recently finished a novel—truly finished, as in it’s departed copyediting and headed for page proofs—and I find myself in a familiar no-man’s-land, the space between books that surprises me every time with its overlarge helpings of exhaustion and despair. My book took a lot out of me; given the emptiness I now feel it seems that it took everything out of me, that all I am is a container for what goes into my fiction. The container is empty; the well is dry. I will write another book; I know this. And while I wait for the next project to make itself known, I will gear up for this book’s publication... READ MORE
by Courtney Zoffness
It’s natural to remember your first attempts at fiction with a combination of wistfulness and shame. Sometimes I think about mine, an international, star-crossed love story that featured a man who dreamed in black and white and a woman who dreamed in color. I even remember one of the first sentences (blush): “She dreamed in orange and blue, of apricot beaches and cerulean seas.” This isn’t because I’m a sentimentalist. It’s because submitting this draft to a graduate school workshop yielded one of the most important editorial lessons in my writing life. READ MORE
Margaret Atwood, interviewed by Dawn Raffel
Atwood discusses wonder tales, Scheherezade, post-9/11 dystopias, and Picasso's response to cave paintings.
Dawn Raffel: You make distinctions between types of fiction that might fall under what you call the “wonder tale” umbrella: Science Fiction [Martians, spaceships], Speculative Fiction ["Things that really could happen but just hadn't completely happened when the authors wrote the books"], Sword and Sorcery Fantasy, and Slipstream Fiction [surreal and strange]. Yet you seem less than delighted by the need to categorize at all. Do you feel that new technologies—electronic delivery systems rather than brick-and-mortar stores; hybrid-object books that combine text with visuals and sounds—might obviate the need for categories? Or will the blogosphere create ever narrower slices? Is it just a human need to categorize?
Margaret Atwood: I think it’s a human need to name – to tell this from that. On the most basic level, we need to distinguish – as crows do – the dangerous creature from the harmless one, and – as all animals do – the delicious and healthful food object from the rotting, poisonous one. In literary criticism it’s very helpful to know that the Harlequin Romance you sneak into when you think no one is looking is not the same, and is not intended to be the same, as Moby Dick. But stories and fictions have always interbred and hybridized and sent tendrils out into strange spaces.…
by Patrick Ryan
Workshops are like relationships in many respects: they can be healthy or unhealthy, productive or unproductive, a fusing of minds or a battle of egos. A healthy, intimate relationship is one where you feel as much enthusiasm for what your partner brings to the table as for what you yourself bring, right? That’s what a good workshop can be....