Devil’s in the Details

The chasm between what’s in our minds and what’s on the page can be the difference between a scribbled diary entry and a complete short story. Connect the dots by zooming in on imagery and picking apart found objects—send your powers of observation to the gym.

Begin Again

The hardest thing about writing (at any level) is starting. This workshop will lean heavily on freewrite prompts to unearth the true beginning of a fledgling story—by repeatedly writing and scrapping the first 300 words or so. Free yourself from the shrieking blank page or blinking cursor and find your flow in medias res.

What’s At Stake

Nothing makes otherwise decent writing fall flat like two dimensional characters with nothing to lose. Picture plot as poker table and characters as players—what’s the ante? What’s the next bet? What are the odds? What does the character stand to lose at each turn? We’ll examine character imperfections and background and nuance. We’ll weave context and subtext to fill the space between the lines.

Words Matter

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug. With that silly truism Mark Twain reminds us that words have real power—and like any tool they’re exactly as effective as the person wielding them. Let’s get good at words!

Breaking Free of the Self

They say writer’s block is all in the mind. So how can we get around the block? Borrow someone else’s mind! Dissociation is the name of the game here, as we relinquish the reins to let our stories break free of our unconscious constraints. Don’t worry—we’ll have plenty of time to rewrite and revise and make the story all your own.

In Notebooking is the Preservation of the World (series)

Explore Richmond’s wilds and write the experience. Each week we’ll take a page from Thoreau and visit a nearby woodsy walk where we’ll stop periodically to notebook what’s around. Then we’ll return to the writing room and unpack. Bring walking shoes.

Writer as Sculptor (series)

Writing is rewriting. But how the hell do you do that? Step aside from the linear illusion of the lines and instead picture words and paragraphs as clay. Pull things apart and add some stuff. Smooth a corner here and shave some there. Pinch this and push that. We’ll unpack and rewrite tricky passages as a group. We’ll get good at breaking fixing and cutting and pasting. This workshop is best for writers already working on a piece.

MFA-Style Workshop (series)

Each week the whole group will take home copies of two participants’ stories/chapters/poems to line edit and workshop as a class. We’ll touch upon many different styles and look at some published work by pros to figure out how things work in words. All are welcome, regardless of experience or prolificacy.