Winter Seattle Writing Class: Follow the Story

follow the storyThe Seattle Writing Class Follow the Story will explore the genres of fiction and nonfiction. The eight-week course will introduce you to a wonderfully diverse mix of writing–personal essays, memoirs, profiles, travel stories, short light pieces and short stories. What are the “rules” and conventions of each genre? How can you use genre to deepen and enrich your own work? How can genre help you hit all the right notes in your writing? You’ll also learn essential techniques of narrative writing–dramatic scenes, dialogue, characterizations and scene by scene construction. The Seattle writing course will run January 11 to Feb. 15 on Wednesday evenings  and two Monday evenings, (Jan. 23, 30) from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 221 of the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford (4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.)

In addition to the classroom work, I’ll schedule individual conferences with each of you after the Seattle Writing Class. This will give me a chance to go over your story or book chapter with you one-on-one and suggest ways to improve it. There will be six assignments: a 150-word story idea or book concept statement, a 250-word scene, a 250-word genre exercise, a 1500- to 2500-word story or book chapter and its revision, a publication report for your story or book. The cost will be $625 per person. Texts: Follow the Story by James Stewart; Best American Essays of the Century edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Both titles are available at the Elliott Bay Book Company.

To enroll, send a check for $625 to Nick O’Connell, 201 Newell St., Seattle, WA 98109. The course is limited to 15 participants and usually fills several weeks prior to the start of class. For more information, see my website, www.thewritersworkshop.net or contact me at nick@thewritersworkshop.net or call 206-284-7121.

Follow the Story: Winter Creative Writing Seminar

follow the storyFollow the Story will explore the genres of fiction and nonfiction. The eight-week course will introduce you to a wonderfully diverse mix of writing–personal essays, memoirs, profiles, travel stories, short light pieces and short stories. What are the “rules” and conventions of each genre? How can you use genre to deepen and enrich your own work? How can genre help you hit all the right notes in your writing? You’ll also learn essential techniques of narrative writing–dramatic scenes, dialogue, characterizations and scene by scene construction. The Seattle writing course will run January 13 to Feb. 24 on Wednesday evenings and one Monday evening, (Jan. 25) from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 221 of the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford (4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.)
In addition to the classroom work, I’ll schedule individual conferences with each of you. This will give me a chance to go over your story or book chapter with you one-on-one and suggest ways to improve it. There will be six assignments: a 150-word story idea or book concept statement, a 250-word scene, a 250-word genre exercise, a 1500- to 2500-word story or book chapter and its revision, a publication report for your story or book. The cost will be $625 per person. Texts: Follow the Story by James Stewart; Best American Essays of the Century edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Both titles are available at the Elliott Bay Book Company.
To enroll, send a check for $625 to Nick O’Connell, 201 Newell St., Seattle, WA 98109. The course is limited to 15 participants and usually fills several weeks prior to the start of class. For more information, see my website, www.thewritersworkshop.net or contact me at nick@thewritersworkshop.net or call 206-284-7121.

REVISING YOUR LIFE: FALL WRITING CLASS

bird by bird

There’s still room in my fall writing class, Revising Your Life, which is a great choice for those getting back into writing, working on a memoir, or simply honing your craft. For more:

Revising Your Life: Turning True Events into Compelling Stories

It may happen in the shower. On the way to work. Taking a crowded elevator. Suddenly a story idea seizes you. You must write it down! You find a pen and piece of paper, plunge into the story, and write nonstop until you finish a first draft. You put it aside. A day goes by. Two days. You pick it up again.  Sure there’s some good stuff there, but the rest of it is, well, less than perfect.

If you’re like most writers, you put the material in the drawer and hope someday to get around to finishing it. How do you push beyond the messy first draft most writers produce to craft a compelling story or book chapter? This eight-week class in nonfiction and fiction will show you how to make that happen. You’ll learn essential techniques of research, interviewing, writing scenes, character sketches, structuring, revision, and how to put the finished manuscript into the hands of the right editor.

The course will run Oct. 14 to Dec. 2 on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 221 of the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford (4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.)

There will be six assignments, including a 150-word story idea, a 250-word research assignment, a 1500- to 2500-word first person story, a revised first person story, and a 250-word cover letter. In addition to the classroom work, I will schedule individual conferences with each student. This will give me a chance to go over your work with you one-on-one and suggest ways to improve it.

Texts: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Best American Essays of the Century edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Both titles are available at the Elliott Bay Book Company, 206-624-6600.

To enroll, please send a check for $625 to Nick O’Connell, 201 Newell St., Seattle, WA 98109 or click on the Buy Now button below to pay with a credit card. The course is limited to 15 participants and usually fills several weeks prior to the start of class. For more information, contact me at nick@thewritersworkshop.net or call 206-284-7121.

 

Fall Writing Retreat, Sept. 19 – 21

At Icicle Creek Center for the Arts, Leavenworth, Washington

Taught by Nicholas O’Connell, MFA Ph.D.

Journal writing is an integral part of the program. Do you have a story you’re burning to write, but never have time to get it done? If so, this is the course for you. This intensive weekend seminar, taught by one of the Northwest’s master teachers, will help you complete a personal essay or story from start to finish.

You will utilize writing practice techniques to generate an entire rough draft of your story in several hours. By the end of the weekend (Sept. 17-19) you will have your piece finished and the polishing process well in hand.

You will learn craft techniques, including how to use characters to sharpen and deepen your work, that would otherwise require weeks of coursework to assimilate.

You will learn secrets of how to prepare the piece for the market and how and where to send it. The Friday (Sept. 17) session 4 to 6 p.m. will include an introduction to the course and dinner at the inspiring Icicle Creek Center for the Arts outside Leavenworth. The Saturday (9 to 4) and Sunday (9 to noon) sessions will be held at the center’s Canyon Wren recital hall, a peaceful, beautiful place designed to enhance our creative work together.

The course fee will be $425 per person double occupancy, $400 triple occupancy, $500 single occupancy, or $325 for meals but no lodging. The fee includes two nights lodging, four meals, and expert writing instruction.

To enroll, please send Nicholas O’Connell a check at 201 Newell St., Seattle, WA 98109 or you can pay with a credit card via the Paypal link above. The course is limited to 15 participants and will likely fill quickly.

The Storms of Denali Book Tour: The Ethics of Climbing and Parenthood

The McCall Public Library was a great venue for my first reading in Idaho. The weather was sunny and warm outside, with jet skis zipping over Lake McCall, a sparkling sapphire of a lake in northern Idaho. With all the the sunny weather and recreation opportunities, would anyone show up for the reading? I set up my slide projector on a computer table. Librarian Lida Clouser pulled down a screen for the slide show. She brought her husband and kids, who sat in the front row. One of her sons told her that he wanted to be either a writer or a climber when he grew up. Guess what, she said, the guy giving the talk tonight is both! The pressure was on. Gradually people filed in, sitting down on the overstuffed chairs. Chatting with them, I discovered than one man had attempted Denali and many read climbing literature., so I knew they would love The Storms of Denali. By the time I started my reading, over 20 people were in attendance. After the reading and slide show, I asked for questions. This is quickly becoming my favorite part of the book tour, as I get a sense on how people are responding to The Storms of Denali. “Can you comment on the ethics of a husband and father going on a dangerous climb?” a woman in the front row asked.  “That was one of the questions I wanted to explore in the book,” I said, thinking of what I discuss in  my writing classes through The Writer’s Workshop. “The narrator, John, is a husband and father, and he feels a lot of guilt about being gone and away from his family, but he still goes on the trip. His climbing partner Wyn doesn’t see any conflict with marriage and parenthood and difficult climbing routes. The two of them argue about this in the course of the book.  In the end, I think readers will understand what I think about this issue, but in a novel you don’t want to make an obvious pronouncement; you want to embody it through the characters. You want readers to discover it as if on their own.”  The answer seemed to satisfy her. I looked over at the boy who was in the front row, holding my ice hammer. What did he think about the issue? The enthusiasm for climbing shone in his eyes. The summit seemed in his sights, no matter what the ethics or obstacles.

The Book as Physical Object

The book as physical object. Though the number of electronic books continues to grow, there’s nothing quite like a book with an appealing cover design, elegant type and tempting jacket copy. With the explosion in growth of electronic books, such details are increasingly being lost. That’s why I so enjoyed receiving in the mail a stack of my new novel, The Storms of Denali. Yes, the carton was heavy, the postage was expensive, but turning the book over in my hands, the smell, feel, and tactile sensation of it was pure pleasure.
For an author, the physical book is a proof that your idea, your world, your characters have become real. Authors can tend to doubt this will ever happen, especially after working for years on a project as I did on the novel, wondering if the words will ever reach a larger audience. The physical book is proof that they will. The Storms of Denali will be out to bookstores within the next few weeks.
Readers benefit as a well-designed book enhances the pleasure and experience of reading, turning the pages with your fingers, working back and forth to take in all the details and insights and appeal of the manuscript.
I have nothing against digital books. I read them myself, but when it comes to a work I really want to devour, nothing beats the actual, physical, tree -sacrificed paper pages of a book.

Nicholas O’Connell, M.F.A, Ph.D., is the author of the forthcoming The Storms of Denali (U of Alaska and U of Chicago presses), On Sacred Ground: The Spirit of Place in Pacific Northwest Literature (U.W. Press, 2003), At the Field’s End: Interviews with 22 Pacific Northwest Writers (U.W. Press, 1998), Contemporary Ecofiction (Charles Scribner’s, 1996) and Beyond Risk: Conversations with Climbers (Mountaineers, 1993). He contributes to Newsweek, Gourmet, Saveur, Outside, GO, National Geographic Adventure, Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sierra, The Wine Spectator, Commonweal, Image and many other places. He is the publisher/editor of The Writer’s Workshop Review and the founder of the online and Seattle-based writing program, www.thewritersworkshop.net.

Hello world!

Writing for Story: Summer Seattle Creative Writing Class

This summer I’ll offer a Seattle Creative Writing Seminar entitled “Writing for Story: How to Recognize, Organize and Write Narratives.” This course will demonstrate how to heighten conflict and resolution in fiction and nonfiction, greatly enhancing the readability and publishability of the finished piece. You’ll receive detailed, constructive criticism of your fictional and nonfictional stories and book chapters. In addition, we’ll discuss dramatic scenes, outlines, cover letters, and other topics of interest to you.

The course will run June 13 to Aug. 1 on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. and one Monday evening July 9 in Room 221 of the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood (4649 Sunnyside Avenue North).

In addition to the classroom work, I will schedule individual conferences with each student. This will give me a chance to go over your story or book with you one-on-one and suggest ways to improve it. There will be six assignments: a 150- to 250-word story idea or book concept statement, a 250-word dramatic scene, a 25-word outline of your story, a 1500- to 2500-word story or book chapter and its revision, and a cover letter for your story or book. The cost will be $575 per person. Texts: Writing for Story by Jon Franklin; The Art of Fact edited by Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda. Both titles are available at the Elliott Bay Book Company.

To enroll, please send me check for $575 to 201 Newell St., Seattle, WA 98109. Enrollment is limited to 15. For more information, take a look at my website, www.thewritersworkshop.net, or contact me at nick@Thewritersworkshop.net or 206-284-7121.