January 10, 2018
$315 | 8 Weeks
Writers are often told “Write what you know.” But most writers are motivated to write about what they don’t know, or understand, about what they know. In this 8 session course, you will learn how to draw inspiration and material from your life experiences or those of people you know, or want to know, to craft compelling, publishable memoirs, personal essays, autobiographical novels and short stories, and/or narrative poetry.
At the end of the course, you will have examined a range of personal narratives in the long- and short-forms of book-length memoirs, personal essays, autobiographical novels and short stories. You will also have a deep understanding of the essential elements of craft, including plot structure, conflict and transformation, sensory imagery, characterization and character motivation, dialogue, “real” vs. “story” time, voice, and point of view. Poetic forms will also be explored as a way to create personal narratives. Students will learn techniques to awaken the creative muse, write with emotional honesty, discover the “authentic” vs. “cultivated” voice, dramatically reconstruct true events, characters, and dialogue, and take creative risks to enhance and further the story. Included are techniques on how to become closely attuned to what makes you write the best you can, how to become your own best editor and discussion about the ethics of writing about people one knows and doesn’t know.
To bring all students, at whatever level, to a higher level of skill and confidence in their writing, through instruction, discussion, exploration of craft and writing process, critical reading of student and published texts, and weekly writing exercises.
Learning objectives for students
– To understand and become familiar with writing as a process
– To critique writing (one’s own and that of others)
– To develop an authentic, individual voice
– To understand basic elements of “good writing”
– To apply the tools of the workshop in editing and revision
– To cultivate and explore ideas on paper with greater assurance and precision
Recommended (not required) text:
Patricia Hampl’s I Could Tell You Stories
Jamaica Kincaid, Mira Bartok, Nawal El Saadawi, John Cheever, Aleksander Hemon, Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kate Braverman, Patrick Modiano, Tony Hoagland, Sherman Alexie, Valerie Mejer Caso
Writing assignments, student critiques, and discussion of craft and texts are included every week.
Week 1: INTRODUCTIONS/LONG-SHORT TERM GOALS
Course Overview/Guidelines; Critique Sign-Up and Guidelines; Discussion of “Good Writing,” Style and Taste
Week 2: CONFLICT/DRAMA
Engaging the Reader
Week 3: IMAGERY/INTUITION
Pulling in the Reader through the Senses
Week 4: CHARACTERIZATION/CLINCHERS/C’ IN ACTION; ORCHESTRATION
The Inner Monster; How to Write the “Who”
Week 5: POINTS OF VIEW
Who’s Telling the Story?
Week 6: VOICE
Importance of Process
Week 7: SETTING
Time and Place
Week 8: FLESHING OUT THE STORY/DEEPER AND BROADER
Adding Depth and Breadth
Margo is a fantastic teacher! She gave so much attention to every single piece of writing including all the critiques. I was extremely satisfied with the class content. I was sorry to see the workshop come to an end. I would absolutely recommend it. ... Madlyn Springston
Margo was attentive and understanding as an instructor. She provided useful critiques and wise guidance. She was also kind in giving criticism, a skill not mastered by all instructors. All the lessons were adequately described and the lecture notes and supplemental readings were very detailed and clear. The assignments were challenging and interesting... I would and I have recommended your classes to many friends... Your attention to and care for your students is admirable. I am very happy to have found your website. ... Sia Corrina Durocher
I found Margo to be highly sensitive to our abilities, both in terms of our gifts as well as challenges as writers. I really appreciated her attention to subtle but powerful details. Her suggestion of what seemed like a simple one-word change were profound and helped me see my writing process in new, advanced ways...Terilee Wunderman