Join us for a one-day creative writing workshop!

typewriter-have-a-wonderful-dayDo you want to jumpstart your writing? Try a different approach? Lift yourself out of your rut (not that I’m assuming you’re in one)?

Fellow writer Brad Zellar and I will be teaching two one-afternoon creative writing workshops in Northfield, MN on Saturday, April 10.  We’d love to see you there. Here are the details.

Workshop #1: Writing from Place
Date and Time: Saturday, April 10, 1-5 p.m.
Location: Northfield Public Library, Division Street, Northfield, MN
Cost: $50 (includes all materials)

Recall some of your favorite books. What part did the setting and landscape play in making these books unforgettable? Is there a place in your own life that haunts you, that is inextricably bound with your memories and the experiences that made you who you are? All writing, no matter the subject or genre, is made more powerful by a powerfully-evoked setting. This oneday intensive class will help you conjure places of great meaning to you, whether beautiful or ugly, real or imagined, and translate that power onto the page.

Through a series of guided writing exercises, discussion, and analysis of both published and peer writing, you’ll come away with insights and techniques for conjuring place, whether from your own life or a fictive world. This workshop is designed for writers of fiction, memoir, poetry and essays. Open to anyone, all experience levels welcome.

Brad Zellar, a writer, editor, photographer, and former bookstore owner, is the recipient of a 2010 Minnesota State Arts Board grant. His journalism, fiction, poetry and photography have been published in a variety of newspapers, magazines, journals, and anthologies. He is the recipient of awards from The Society of Professional Journalists, The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and the Minnesota Magazine Association. Zellar is the author of “Suburban World: The Norling Photos” (Borealis Press, 2008), which the Coen brothers used as a primary setting reference for their most recent movie, A Serious Man.

Workshop #2: The Order in Which It’s Told
Date and Time: Saturday, April 10, 1-5 p.m.
Location: Northfield Arts Guild, 304 Division Street, Northfield, MN
Cost: $50 (includes all materials)

Our clocks and calendars say we live our lives in a linear fashion, but certainly not our hearts and minds. How can you use different chronologies to create the strongest possible story? A story told from the point of view of an eighty-year old man recollecting his twelfth birthday could begin in the middle of the birthday, then flash forward sixty-eight years. Or, it might start on the old man’s deathbed and work backward. An entirely different tone will be set in the story, depending on where in time the writer places the narrative and emotional emphasis.

Through writing exercises, published examples, and discussion, we’ll work with the role of chronology in structuring a piece of creative writing. This workshop helps writers clarify how they want to use time, and the sequencing of key events in their prose writing.

Alison McGhee is a #1 New York Times bestselling writer and Pulitzer prize nominee who writes novels, essays, picture books and poems for all ages. She is the recipient of many awards, including four Minnesota Book Awards, a Best Books for Young Adults award, and three Booksense 76 picks. She is also a professor of creative writing at Metropolitan State University.

To register for either class, please email me at alison_mcghee@hotmail.com. Each class limited to 15.

Two one-day creative writing workshops, Northfield, MN, 24 January 2010

typewriter-have-a-wonderful-dayI’m pleased to announce two one-day creative writing workshops, Writing from Photographs and The Art of Writing Picture Books, to be held in Northfield, MN on Sunday, January 24. Fellow writer Brad Zellar and I will be teaching the workshops concurrently. See below for details, and please forward this email to any friends and writers who may be interested. Thanks!

Workshop #1: Writing from Photographs: Inside and Outside the Frame
Date and Time: Sunday, January 24, 1-5 p.m.
Location: Northfield Arts Guild, 304 Division Street South, Northfield, MN
Cost: $50 (includes all materials)

It’s said that every picture tells a story, but that’s only true if we apply our memories and imaginations to reconstructing or re-imagining the constellation of circumstances and details that literally frame all photos. In a sense, then, a photo is actually a mere scene from a story –a beginning or an end, perhaps, or a mysterious, poignant, or telling incident that unlocks the story’s secrets.

What would the complete picture have shown that the photo does not? What happened just before the shutter was snapped, and just after? Time is forever frozen in the image, but life went on before and after that particular moment, and that life, and those details, are the proper story of the most evocative photos.

Bring in three photos of your own, ones whose largely untold stories fascinate or resonate on some imaginative level, and we’ll provide others. Through a series of guided writing exercises, discussion, and analysis of both published and peer writing, you’ll come away with insights and techniques for character development, scene setting and storytelling, both real and imagined. All experience levels welcome.

Brad Zellar is a writer, editor, photographer, and former bookstore owner. His journalism, fiction, and photography have been published in a variety of newspapers, magazines, journals, and anthologies. He is the recipient of awards from The Society of Professional Journalists, The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and the Minnesota Magazine Association. For as long as he can remember he has used found photographs as inspiration for fiction, poetry, and essays. Zellar is the author of “Suburban World: The Norling Photos” (Borealis Press, 2008), which the Coen brothers used as their primary reference for their most recent movie, A Serious Man.

Workshop #2: The Art of Writing Picture Books
Date and Time: Sunday, January 24, 1-5 p.m.
Location: Northfield Arts Guild, 304 Division Street South, Northfield, MN
Cost: $50 (includes all materials)

Anyone who has ever read a book to a child over and over (and over and over) knows the power of the best picture books, those astonishing collaborations in which illustrations and text both reflect and deepen each other. Text and art are inseparable; two halves make up a greater whole. “Goodnight, Moon,” anyone? “Where the Wild Things Are?”

How does a writer approach the telling of a book in which the illustrations are half the equation? What sorts of subject matter are possible, and how best can you present them? What are the central questions and tension of your story? What’s the best pacing for such a compact (thirty-two pages) book? Through a variety of in-class writing exercises, discussion of published materials, and lecture, you will gain an understanding of the questions, challenges and delights of picture book writing. Instructor will also explain the submission and publishing process of picture book writing. All experience levels welcome.

Alison McGhee is a Pulitzer prize nominee who writes novels, picture books and poems for all ages. She is the recipient of many awards, including four Minnesota Book Awards, a Best Books for Young Adults award, and three Booksense 76 picks. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several picture books, including “Someday” and “Only a Witch Can Fly,” which the New York Times recently named one of the Best Ten Illustrated Books of 2009.

Each class is limited to 20 students. Please email alison_mcghee@hotmail.com to register. Looking forward to seeing you in January!