Tag Archives: novel-writing workshop

“And The Plot Thickens” Weekend Novel Writing Workshop

Today we are excited to bring Freelance-Zone readers an up-close look at “And The Plot Thickens”, a novel writing workshop in Rhode Island taking place later this month…

LobbyA11. How did the idea for the “And The Plot Thickens” workshop come about, and when is it?

‘And The Plot Thickens… How to develop a novel’ is held on August 28 & 29 2010.

The idea came about because we are passionate about the Arts. From the regular RISDA exhibitions we hold in our lobby, our series of arts inspired events and the local arts society we support, it shows in everything we do…We wanted to help people discover their own passion and writing their first novel is a dream that many of us have. We also realized that with people taking shorter weekends because of the economy, they wanted to do something more worthwhile with their time away – this workshop allows them to pursue their dream, share experiences and make new friends while spending the weekend in a wonderful hotel in a beautiful city.

2.  Who will be leading this workshop and what are that person’s qualifications?

Joanna Howard is a published author and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Denver, and MFA in fiction writing from Bowling Green State University. She currently teaches fiction at Brown University. Joanna is the author of ‘On the Winding Stair’ (Boa Editions, 2009) a collection of short stories which Publisher’s Weekly described as “14 tales of startling description and beauty.”  She is also the author of ‘In the Colorless Round’ (Noemi, 2007), a short collection of prose with artwork by Rikki Ducornet . Her publications also include numerous book reviews in Review of Contemporary Fiction and American Book Review, and she has worked as a co-translator on Marcel Cohen’s Walls (Black Square 2009) and on Frederic Boyer’s Cows (forthcoming from Noemi Press). Her stories appear in anthologies and journals including Conjunctions, The Chicago Review, Quarterly West, and American Letters and Commentary. Howard is a fiction editor for Tarpaulin Sky magazine, She has also edited for Denver Quarterly and other journals.

3. What will be covered in these two days?

Each day will be structured by a series of morning and afternoon sessions, which will include a range of writing exercises, workshops, and seminar style discussions.

Budding writers will learn practical skills for how to shape their ideas into a novel, discover how to create memorable characters and compelling narratives. They will examine their favorite novels and dissect what makes them great pieces of fiction. Reading-out exercises will give them the opportunity for feedback on material they have already written and advice on how to develop and shape their drafts. Joanna will share her experience and advice on how to talk about and present ideas to an audience and how to get that first novel published. Continue reading “And The Plot Thickens” Weekend Novel Writing Workshop

The Benefits of A Writer’s Getaway

hotel providence in Rhode Island

Transparency: The “And The Plot Thickens” novel-writing workshop at the Hotel Providence in Rhode Island is a Freelance-Zone sponsor. That said, we really think writers can get a lot out of this type of retreat, so we’re not hawking something here we don’t believe in. Travel broadens the mind!

A lot has been made about the profession of writing as a solitary endeavor. There’s a romantic image of the writer locked away in a room somewhere banging away on a keyboard safe from intrusions from the outside world…until the writer is in need of some inspiration, of course.

What happens when you get stuck and decide your book, article, or even a blog post needs something more than it’s got? That’s when the notion of the solitary writer goes right out the window. Writers NEED human interaction to get the job done, whether in the form of an interview, inspiration from overhearing a random conversation on the train or bus, even just looking up a literary reference is still going back to the well, so to speak, of the shared human experience.

I said all that to say the writer’s retreat, conference, or workshop is a pretty valuable thing. It’s easy to get married to that lone writer stereotype, but how do you know if your ideas are any good? How do you get confidence in your work?

You might think I’m telling people to go out in search of validation through the approval of people at these writing workshops—far from it. Rather than attending them looking for someone to affirm your basic genius, you should go to a writer’s retreat or conference looking for ways to overcome your shortfalls as a writer, to learn why your strengths work like they do and to undo bad habits that only come to light when you’re working under scrutiny.

You know the habits I mean—the ones you can’t help noticing when somebody else reads your material in front of you. “Wow, I DO have a set of crutch words!” It’s embarrassing at first, but realizing that every writer makes some of the same mistakes can actually help motivate you to be more vigilant.

A writer’s workshop like And The Plot Thickens is also helpful for another reason. Some writers don’t realize they’re toiling away at one type of writing when they could be more adept in a different area. Are you dreaming of shifting gears to a different sort of work?

If you’ve got a novel in you but don’t know how to get it out, this type of weekend workshop could be the way to unlock those particular doors. The same goes for any other type of writing—a novelist would do well to attend a blogger conference, a fiction writer could get a taste of straight journalism, etc. There’s also a lot to be said for getting away, spending a weekend at a place like the Hotel Providence in Rhode Island, and experiencing a complete change of scenery.

It’s never a bad thing to try something new, and those who have already committed to a novel, blog, or straight non-fiction format should give serious thought to spending time with colleagues and peers in environments like this. It’s good for you.

(For more information about the various “Discover Your Passion” workshops, visit the Hotel Providence on the web.)

–Joe Wallace

Image courtesy of Rhode Island Roads.