Description of Class
Most writers have a story sitting in a folder somewhere that hasn’t been opened in a while. It’s the one we keep thinking about at odd times when we’re not at the writing desk, the one with the character you keep meaning to work into the next novel, the one with the plot that just never found the right ending. “Dust Off That Draft” is the class where we refuse to admit defeat and find ways to get excited about finishing that story.
In this six-week class, you’ll learn ways to take a fresh approach to plot, character, setting, scene, and thematic elements and inject new life into your stories. Through class discussion, workshop sessions and writing exercises, you’ll discover methods for objectively evaluating your own work and recognizing not only the trouble spots but also the hidden gems that exist in your pages. The class will also cover some of the differences in approaching the revision process versus the first draft. And through the workshop sessions, you’ll have a chance to hear new voices discuss your work and stir up new creative energies.
At the end of this class, students will be able to look at their drafts with a fresh set of eyes and recapture that spark that started them on their stories, novels, essays and memoirs in the first place.
Week 1: The Heart of the Matter. What did we set out to do with our stories, and can we articulate it? We’ll look at the stories we’ve started and deconstruct them to look at the frameworks that support them.
Week 2: Forward Momentum. We’ll discuss the beats in a narrative arc that have to exist in our stories and focus on why scenes are so important. We’ll also explore how to use backstory effectively without weighing down the progress of our plots.
Week 3: Do You Know Who You’re Dealing With? Characters are the lifeblood of our stories, novels and even memoirs. We’ll explore techniques for establishing the bonds between reader and character, and we’ll look at what makes the best ones so memorable.
Week 4: Nothing Happens Nowhere. Sometimes our characters and plots need to get out of the void. We’ll figure out how to find the unique, richly detailed elements of our worlds and use those to inject new tensions into our writing.
Week 5: What’s the Point? Thematic elements of our work are sometimes afterthoughts, but this is the time to think about them. How does what we’re trying to say actually come across on the page? We’ll ponder how to mine tangible traits and details from esoteric ideas that can inform fresh approaches to our work.
Week 6: Untying the Knot. We’ll talk about revision from major rewrites to finishing touches. We’ll learn how to take all the elements of the craft we’ve discussed and apply them in ways that measurably improve our stories.