2018 Writers Retreat Course Descriptions

Participants, please review the course descriptions below and select only one course through the registration link under the program "description" tab on the previous page.

(Extra)ordinary Content - Patricia Ann McNair

For writers of all genres, this workshop will guide participants to identify and use their most compelling material to create new work and reinvigorate ongoing projects. Drawing from memory, imagination, and observation, writers will discover their own extraordinary content. Writing activities will combine each writer's unique material with a variety of ways of telling, structure, and form, in order to make work that resonates. Prompts will encourage the exploration of emotional veracity, the role of specificity as a means to create universality, subtext and surface narrative, among other things. Whether a writer is creating imagined new worlds or writing autobiographical pieces, prose or poetry, these explorations will feed the muse.

Persons of Interest: Character Development in Prose - Eric Charles May

In both fiction and nonfiction, readers yearn to see how the events of a story affect the characters (real or imagined) involved. What is the impact? Why does it matter? For writers working in either fiction or nonfiction, the key to deeply developed characters is understanding how to present those characters on the page, in ways that are interesting enough to hold our own and our readers’ attention. This class will study fiction and nonfiction examples that demonstrate how events (plot) affect characters, and then we will generate new writing based on prompts that will help us develop engaging characters of our own.

Wild, Unusual, and Necessary: Exploring Image in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry - Brittany Cavallaro

In this class, we’ll discuss the power of concrete detail and sensory image, and develop strategies to help you push your writing into vivid color. Through generative exercises, readings, and craft concept discussion, we’ll explore the different ways we can use and transform images in our writing. Some of the questions we’ll be discussing include: How do you create a strong visual that "hooks" the reader in your novel or short story? When writing a poem, how can you ground complex thought and strong emotion in something your reader can see and experience? In memoir or creative nonfiction, how can you best convey complicated experiences through small, meaningful images? We’ll use this technique across your creative interests and projects while examining an array of contemporary writing. More experienced writers will be able to apply these techniques widely, learning strategies to refine their prose. Beginning writers will strengthen their foundation by working this fundamental tool of storytelling and verse.

Essentials of Story: Building Narratives Across Genre - Desiree Cooper

As someone who writes across genres, I’m often asked how I decide which genre to deploy. Is an idea innately a poem, or can it blossom just as easily as an essay or short story? The answer is that successful writing shares a common element, regardless of genre: powerful storytelling. When you focus on the story, the genre will reveal itself. Over the course of the week, we will study the critical elements of storytelling, which, when linear, goes from equilibrium to disequilibrium and arrives at a new status quo. We will look at how mood, metaphor and tension work in narrative poems, short stories and essays, and help you decide which literary option best serves your story. Get ready for a week of generating and genre-busting!

Writers-in-Residence: Anne-Marie Oomen and Mardi Jo Link

Anne-Marie and Mardi Jo will serve as our writers-in-residence to the participants of the 2018 Writers Retreat, making themselves available for one-on-one tutorials and meetings. Participants may sign up at the Retreat for a limited number of spots, and should be prepared with questions pertinent to their craft, genre, specific project, or the larger topics of book publishing, blogging, touring, and publicity. While this is a chance to ask questions and work with award-winning authors, the writer-in-residence role is not designed to allow for critiques of manuscripts. Please bring questions, but not pages.