GREENSBORO—The fiction offerings at the upcoming North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference, Saturday, April 23, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will encourage attendees to build a firm foundation before choosing to zig when others zag by finding inspiration in the everyday and establishing a firm sense of place.
Spring Conference registration is now open.
Quinn Dalton will lead the Master Class in Fiction, "Make a Scene: Learn How to Use the Emotional Building Blocks of Fiction."
What is a scene? What should scenes do—and not do? How do you get into and out of them? How do you assess whether a scene is doing the work you want it to do for the story? Through exercises, prompts and discussion, you’ll learn to create scenes that propel your stories and keep your readers engaged until the final line. Then we’ll apply this perspective to your own in-progress work.
Master Classes require a separate application; each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.
Quinn Dalton is the author of a novel, High Strung, and two story collections, Bulletproof Girl and Stories from the Afterlife. Stories, essays, and articles on publishing and the writing craft have appeared in literary and commercial publications such as Glimmer Train, One Story, Poets & Writers, Mediabistro.com, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. Midnight Bowling, a novel, is forthcoming from Carolina Wren Press in March. The Infinity of You & Me, a novel co-written with the novelist and poet Julianna Baggott under the pen name J.Q. Coyle, is forthcoming from Harper Collins in the fall of 2016.
Other fiction sessions include "Not Set in Stone: The Importance of Place in Fiction" with Travis Mulhauser. This will be a focused discussion on the craft of setting your fiction—particularly, the importance of place. A critical, often overlooked element of our stories, setting too often stands flat—like bad background props in a low budget play. Setting can be the soil your story grows from, but it can also move fluidly through the narrative and impact our stories on every level—ultimately creating a multi-dimensional, immersive experience for the reader. And perhaps most importantly, a fully rendered place can often be the key to the universal in our fiction.
This workshop will look at contemporary master works, incorporate student questions and input, and talk about specific strategies for creating vibrant, realized “places.”
Travis Mulhauser is from Petoskey, Michigan. He is the author of two works of fiction, most recently the novel Sweetgirl from Ecco/Harper Collins. He lives in Durham with his wife and two children.
In the afternoon, Greg Shemkovitz will teach registrants how to "Make Something of Nothing." This workshop will look at how writers can enhance a narrative by bringing gravity to the ordinary. By letting the concrete bear the weight of the abstract—whether through symbolism, metaphor, simile, or even through gesture—a simple narrative moment can take on a whole new layer of tension. We will look at how to identify existing unutilized objects in a scene and how to complicate a moment by giving attention to an otherwise overlooked element, always in the hopes of bringing depth to the narrative and enhancing the emotions we feel for these characters. Workshop attendees will participate in short writing activities and should be prepared with a pen or pencil.
Greg Shemkovitz lives in North Carolina and teaches writing and literature at Elon University. He holds an MFA from UNC-Greensboro. His fiction has appeared in Foundling Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Prick of the Spindle, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Lot Boy (Sunnyoutside Press 2015) was a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award: www.gregshemkovitz.wordpress.com.
Anyone interested in writing for tweens won't want to miss Bonnie J. Doerr's "Tween Fiction: Writing Against the Current." Thinking of writing for young readers who are not quite ready for edgy books? Want to try something other than the current trends of dark fantasy, science fiction, post apocalyptic, dystopian, and the like? To get books into the hands of 10–14 year-old (tween) readers it helps to hook the gatekeepers. Rather than discussing techniques of the craft itself, this session will inspire ways to do just that with realistic fiction. How can you draw librarians, teachers, and parents to your work? Offer them practical applications of your fiction’s components. This workshop will present specific examples of such applications. Examples include activities to enhance a variety of subjects in any school’s curricula; to enliven a reading/signing event; as well as those that entertain, inform, engage, and encourage audience interaction during school visits and presentations. Though these examples concentrate on realistic fiction, the concepts can be applied to all genres. Time will be devoted to discussion and sharing ideas.
Bonnie J. Doerr, an educator, gardener, and wildlife enthusiast, is the author of eco-mystery novels for tweens. Her work, which features endangered or threatened wildlife and the real-life heroes who rescue, rehab, and release them, has been described as a “mashup of Jean Craighead George and Carl Hiaasen” by some and as a “teen detective series inspired by Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Lassie” by others. Island Sting (Leap Books 2010) won the 2011 EPIC Children’s eBook award, and Stake Out (Leap Books 2011) was a 2012 Green Earth YA Book Award finalist. Third in the series, Tangled Lines, is scheduled for release summer of 2016. Visit the author at http://bonniedoerrbooks.com.
Along with workshops and sessions hosted by top-notch faculty, Spring Conference will again offer additional beloved programming, including faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, Lunch with an Author (pre-registration required), and the second annual installment of the popular Slush Pile Live!
The NCWN 2016 Spring Conference is sponsored in part by the Greensboro News & Record; WFDD 88.5 FM: Public Radio for the Piedmont; and UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide free parking for Spring Conference registrants in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck, across Forest Street from the MHRA Building (behind Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Old Town Draught House). For directions, click here.
Pre-registration is open through Sunday, April 17, at www.ncwriters.org.