All students, including those with no previous creative writing experience, are welcome.

This workshop has three parts: The first will be devoted to creative nonfiction. Students will draw on their own lived experience for important memories to develop into personal narratives. We will subsequently mine these anecdotes for larger areas of social enquiry that students will research, parse, and integrate into their writing to transform memoir into the researched personal essay. Excerpts of finished work will be adapted into oral storytelling and excerpts will be recorded as spoken word podcasts. “This American Life” and other iterations of personal narrative from contemporary culture will serve as models and inspiration.

Next we will introduce the conventions and techniques of fiction: point of view, tone, voice, diction, foreshadowing, imagery, and narrative arc, and apply them to the writing we already have in hand. What happens to memoir when it is refracted through the prism of literary technique? Reinvented as fiction, the personal essay is now the short story. Our third project will introduce genre fiction including fantasy, satire and science fiction. Our first pieces of writing will again be remade and rearranged according to a new set of conventions.

The goals of this workshop are to:

  • Offer the time and space to spark the imagination and nurture creativity;
  • Introduce and practice specific literary techniques and skill sets;
  • Focus on and develop writing style; and
  • Teach students to critique the work of others and revise and polish their own work.

Class readings will be eclectic but carefully targeted to the task at hand. Benchmarks for student evaluation include demonstrated commitment to the creative progress and the acquisition and development of specific skill sets. Participants will assemble portfolios of their best work to exemplify both their creativity and their progress.