Creative Writing Workshops: Two workshops delivered by Victor Rangel-Ribeiro.
(Wednesday June 23 & Thursday June 24, 2008)
Writing Workshops at the 2008 Goan International Conference, Toronto
Note: Workshop I will be limited to a registration of 12 attendees, and 25 auditors;Advanced Workshop II will be limited to no more than eight attendees, and will include individual consultation with the workshop leader.
I. Words into a Story–All-day Creative Writing Workshop
Introductory interactive session (20 minutes): Inspiration and creativity. Waiting for inspiration vs. writing to get the creative juices flowing. Role of laughter and absurdity. Importance of maintaining flow in writing: a line must be drawn between writing and editing.
Ways of jumpstarting a story. Consciously building a plot. Alternative: The opening sentence as starting point. Following up: picking the right word leading in the right direction. Exploring the one story that springs to mind from a single word, phrase, or sentence. Developing the story: starring roles. Relatively speaking: aunts and spear carriers. Tweaking the plot: the one simple question that acts like a kaleidoscope: each time it is asked, a brand new plot emerges. Writing at speed, participants will pursue their own versions of the plot; the spontaneous stories created in this session will be shared and commented on.
In the afternoon, each participant will take one of his or her own drafts from the morning session and develop it into a more finished product, keeping in mind the key elements of voice, point of view, character development, dialogue, plot, and overall believability. Key passages from each will be shared with the group. Wrap-up: individual reports, and general discussion on lessons learned, progress made.
II. Advanced All-day Creative Writing Workshop
Admission limited to eight writers who have had stories published in name publications or who submit from ten to twenty pages of unpublished original work showing acceptable writing proficiency. The focus in this workshop will be on helping each writer complete an unfinished manuscript or work-in-progress and prepare it for eventual publication. If you are suffering from writers’ block, this is the workshop for you.
You will be expected to come to the workshop with one unfinished manuscript to work on during the day. You should also bring what you consider to be a great short story by a known author. Let us know in advance the title and author of the story you choose, so other participants can read it too. At our opening session the group can then analyze its strong points, and examine the various ways in which each author has used structure, voice, dialogue, and point of view to reveal character and propel the story along.
You and your peers will then take turns to talk about your story, the writing process you became involved in, and most specifically the difficulties you ran into as the story progressed. After we explore ways in which those difficulties can be overcome, you will follow up by working on your unfinished manuscript, using new insights as you focus on particular areas that you consider to be weak in relation to the whole. From time to time we will share what each one has redone, and offer constructive criticism. Through a continuous process of writing, sharing, critiquing, revising and rewriting, you will hone your skills and strengthen your story, as each revision brings the work closer to completion. Individual conferences will be scheduled during the working session.
The day will end with a discussion of what magazine editors, publishers, and agents expect to see in a finished manuscript. We will share information on copy-editing techniques, manuscript formatting requirements, and submission procedures; what to include in a covering letter; how and where to meet people who matter; how to pick an agent; how to beat the publishers’ slush pile and get your work directly into an editor’s hands. We will also discuss the dreaded rejection slips, and how we can turn them to our advantage.