SPRING WRITING RETREAT CRAFT SESSIONS
Inspiration, that Orphic moment of detached awareness can only be charmed by one who has practiced the craft of writing in times of expiration—when the muse has passed.
Faculty will present a one-hour craft lecture covering an element of creative writing. Topics might include: character development, tracing the narrative path, working in the reflective mode, structure, viewpoint, dialogue, style, tone, sound and rhythm, images, order, etc.
Each of the faculty members bring their own unique approaches and experiences to the writing craft topic areas which will, in turn, afford participants an exciting opportunity to gain valuable insight into the processes and mechanisms that are the foundation of the creative writing practice.
Below is an example from a previous year (stay tuned for the 2024 updated schedule):
Christina Olson presents Weird Science: the various and sundry fun ways in which scientific fact can shape/inform poems.
Chad Faries presents Re-collecting Memory: This seminar explores the ethics of truth and its expectation in poetry and creative non-fiction. Are writers accountable for accuracy in reporting non-fiction experiences? How can we account for gaps and still remain true to the experience? Strategies will be contemplated and explored.
Lee Griffin presents Summary Writing: To keep the story interesting and alive, and the reader reading, we must Show, Not Tell. Often this happens by letting your story unfold through a series of scenes. But the same rule (showing, not telling) applies as well in summary. By choosing revealing details, vivid descriptions, scenes that are not much longer than a snapshot, you can economically give all the background information needed to bring your piece to the time and events in which your story takes place.
Jessica Leigh Lebos presents “Starting Where You Are: Why Local Writers Matter”: A close-up review of how locality and setting can drive the story.
Laura Valeri presents Plot is Not A One Way Street: Got an idea but don’t know where to start or how to tell the story? Think you might have a good start but don’t know where to take your idea next? This lecture will explore the interconnectedness of narrative structures and plot, reviewing different methods for plotting short stories and how these may be influenced by your narrative style. From the long story to the 25 word-long hint fiction, we will review several ways of thinking about plot and narrative structure that will expand your notion of what a story can be.
Publishing Panel with Leigh Rich, Alexa Orgera, Frank Mandelson presents Getting Published: An essential part of any desire to write is publication. This panel will outline some of the essential ideas and tools you will need to develop in order to raise your chances of securing an agent and finding a home for your work.
Craig Johnson: Character: The Easy way. An in-depth and straight-forward analysis of what makes characters click, providing writers with tools to tell the stories that engage readers.
Beverly Donofrio: Summary Writing. An essential story-telling tool for all writing genres. At this stage, it’s a hackneyed rule, but no less true, that to keep the story interesting and alive, and the reader reading, we must Show, Not Tell. Often this happens by letting your story unfold through a series of scenes. But the same rule (showing, not telling) applies as well in summary. By choosing revealing details, vivid descriptions, scenes that are not much longer than a snapshot, you can economically give all the background information needed to bring your piece to the time and events in which your story takes place. Donofrio will offer an exercise to help you create a montage that efficiently and entertainingly leaps through time, and/or develops a character, a dynamic, a relationship.
Neil Shepard will present: The Sexy Sentence: a look at how sentences — their length, level of complexity, and rhythmic structure—can help reflect or reveal the content of a piece of writing, as well as help shape the reader’s emotional and intellectual response to it.
PAST RETREAT SESSIONS
Nonfiction Craft Session:
Sue William Silverman: From Image to Metaphor: A Generative Lecture. To write creative nonfiction, you need more than a merely good story. More important is to discover, through writing, your metaphors. What does this experience mean? How can your story become universal? How can your reader relate to a story that, after all, only happened to you? This lecture (with writing exercises and informal discussion) will explore how the writer achieves this by savoring the images from a particular life (think of William Carlos Williams’s adage “no ideas but in things”), and then slanting them, expressing the details, so that they illuminate shared experience of the world around us.
Poetry Craft Session:
Susan Meyers: The Song of Syntax. The syntax of a piece of writing—poetry or prose—is crucial to its music, as well as its meaning. Syntax affects pacing, tension, tone—almost every aspect of the writing. During this hour we’ll take a look at numerous syntactical approaches and at published poems and excerpts of prose chosen for syntactical variety. Bring a draft of a poem or prose piece you’re working on. A class packet is included.
Cathy Smith Bowers: The Physiology of Sound. It is fairly common knowledge that the sounds of words—vowels, consonants, stresses, etc.—have an emotional impact on both the speaker and listener alike. But people are often surprised to learn that the sounds of words can also have a physical effect on the body. In this workshop we will take a writerly look at the physiology of sound so that we might begin to make more rational decisions in the diction and syntax of our own poems.
Fiction Craft Session:
Lenore Hart: The Last Detail: A Master Guide to Manuscript Revision. Sometimes titled: HOW TO WIN A NOVEL COMPETITION, short master course focuses on honing a novel manuscript to perfection, and the best tips to avoid rejection by an editor or contest judge. In the process, the writer learns to gradually internalize the skills needed to self-edit, revise, and intensify theme, character, believability, and sense of place, and in the process become a professional-level craftsperson.