Description of Class
You’re working on a project. You’ve got vision, passion, and drive. And you’ve got pages. Now, you want to polish those pages and make them into something more than your private project. You want to live the writing life.
This 12-session course will meet every other week and is designed to show you how to engage in the practice of writing, both as a solitary endeavor and a form of communal engagement, in an effort to advance your work and enter you into the community of writers. We will balance classes with craft discussions, best practices, and ongoing workshops that will offer peer feedback.
Regardless of your project—poetry, fiction, memoir, something hybrid—it helps to have a schedule. It also helps to have a supportive community. You’ll get both in this class. We’ll look at published pieces, as well as the work of peers, to get a sense of how writers hone their craft and revise their work. We’ll talk about the writing life—how to engage with the community of writers, how to support and be supported, how to set up a realistic schedule, and when it’s time to submit.
Jan 3: Intro/ice breaker. Discussion of individual projects: in-class writing/workshop: the elevator pitch.
Jan 17: Making, and keeping to, a schedule—how to set realistic goals.
Jan 31: Dialogue versus Description—when and when not to let your characters have their say. Readings: include excerpts from Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ernest Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” as well as snippets of Ulysses by James Joyce.
Feb 14: Making the Scene—avoiding over-explanation in favor of “world-building”; show don’t tell (okay, tell a little). Readings: examples from Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, “The Fellowship of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, and “Against World Building” by Lincoln Michel.
Feb 28: Keeping a consistent voice—not straying in your writing, staying focused, and reviewing for tone. Readings: from “Dolly City” by Orly Castel-Bloom and “Eggshells” by Caitriona Lally.
Mar 14: Revision versus Editing—we’ll go deep here and explore the aspect of revision, often the most time-intensive part of writing, as well as editing. (And the difference between the two.) Readings: selections from “Exercises in Style” by Raymond Queneau.
Mar 28: Entering the community— making connections with, and contributions to, your fellow writers, locally and globally.
Apr 11: Forming your own community—we’ll talk about how to start a writing group, reading series, or journal of your own. Read: selections from local literary journals—Rhino, Curbside Splendor, Chicago Review, etc.
Apr 25: How, what, where, and why to read your work in public—exploring reading publicly as a means of testing your work. Readings this week will take the form of listening to work by Ciaran Carson, Valzhyna Mort, and Gwendolyn Brooks.
May 9: Navigating conferences: what to expect, how to get the most out of the event, having realistic goals for talking with publishers and agents.
May 23: Getting ready to submit your work – contests, submission best practices, including basics of cover and query letters, polishing your work.
Jun 6: The world of publishing— what to look for when submitting to big, small, mid-size, presses; what to consider about self-publishing
Jun 20: Reviewing final revisions. Class wrap up.Top