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2020 Summer Writing Retreat – “Finessing Fiction: Moving Your Work to the Next Level” with Charlotte Gullick

September 1, 2020 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM CDT

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Class Meeting Times:

“Finessing Fiction” will meet for a total of four sessions on Tuesday evenings in August: 8/4, 8/11, 8/18, 8/25

6:00pm to 9:00pm CDT on Zoom

Class Description:
Have you already toiled for hours on a first draft and are wondering where to go from here? Or maybe you have dozens of pages of ideas, fragments, scraps of dialogue—all those little gems you’d like to bring together into a compelling work of fiction. In both scenarios, you’re likely ready to take the next big step and uncover a clear sense of what is needed to take your work to an improved level. In this class, registrants will write, strategize, grow, connect, and plan. Along the way, you’ll pick up new ideas for defining your writing life as well finessing what you have into a more complete, engaging story.

Session Descriptions: 

Session #1: What’s Already Good, What Needs Improvement: In this first session, we will fire up our resolve to develop what we have into what we need. We’ll consider the importance of plot, causality, and scene. Additionally, we’ll connect with other writers, identify best practices, and pinpoint goals for the next three sessions.

Session #2 / Considering the Reader: We will explore what pulls the reader out and what demands that they stay as well as explore the importance of setting and the senses. In addition, we’ll study how simultaneous actions contribute to an engaging story that readers cannot refuse.

Session #3 / Identifying Action and Surprise: This session will focus on the key elements of action and story as they define compelling storytelling. We’ll dive into the character sins of omission and commission and investigate how they relate to secondary characters and subplots. We’ll also create an action plan that includes micro goals and accountability partners.

Session #4 / Finessing on the Line Level to Deepen the Work Overall: In this final session, we’ll study techniques for improving the work on the line level and for improving the entire project. Sometimes spending time with a single sentence can unlock the needed insight and perspective to understand the work more globally.

This class is for writers who have started a fiction project, have generated a bit of material, and are now ready for a clear plan for moving the material into greater strength and coherence. Both novelists and short fiction writers will find the material useful.

Participation: It’s recommended that participants be present for scheduled class time. Sessions will be highly interactive. There will be 1-2 small group activities per session that will not be available to those who access session recordings afterwards. The instructor will be available to answer any questions in real time only.

Homework Expectations: Registrants will be asked to read the novel We the Animals by Justin Torres (over the course of the month). Each week, there will be an assignment in response to that week’s reading, thinking about character action and development, plot, surprise. Additional short readings/podcasts will be assigned each week; they will include interviews with Toni Morrison, Angie Thomas & articles by Daniel Jose Older, Walter Mosley, Jason Reynolds, and Michael Noll.

Featured Presenter(s)

Charlotte Gullick is Chair of the Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College. She holds BA in Literature/Creative Writing from UC Santa Cruz and a MA in English/Creative Writing from UC Davis as well as a MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her awards include a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship for Fiction, a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, and residencies at MacDowell and Ragdale. She is the author of the novel By Way of Water.


September 1, 2020
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM CDT
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