GREENSBORO—Imagine two cars get into a fender-bender. Now imagine the drivers telling a policeman the story of what happened. One driver claims the other car stopped suddenly, causing the accident; the driver of the car who was hit claims the other person shouldn’t have been following so closely.
Both people are describing the same event…but who’s telling the truth?
The idea that a character’s reality can change the way a story is told is at the heart of this year’s Master Class in Fiction, offered as part of the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference. Led by Valerie Nieman, a creative writing instructor at NC A&T State University and the author of the award-winning novel, Blood Clay, the workshop is titled, “A Matter of Interpretation.”
This class examines the idea that characters are presented through their appearance, actions, and words—yet what is evident to other characters within the story may not be accurate, and the reader likewise must often ferret out the truth behind the surface. We'll explore how a story may hinge on the difference between a character's apparent reality and the hidden truth, and how the counterpoint between differing elements of a character's depiction can power the story. We will do a “two versions” exercise based on a scar or tattoo.
Attendees who sign up for Jacob Paul's workshop "Sentence Aesthetics: Using Micro-Poetics to Create Rhythm in Prose" will strip their fiction down to the floorboards and joists. This workshop will focus on how writers can leverage sentence syntax, lexicon, and length to build and release tension in prose. Registrants will begin by studying several examples, then outline general principles, create a sample scene, and end in a discussion about application. Paul's debut novel, Sarah/Sara, was named one of that year’s five best first fictions by Poets & Writers.
There are also workshops available for those interested in writing historical fiction, and those interested in writing for children.
Charlie Lovett will teach “When the Past Isn’t Past: Using History in Fiction.” Lovett’s multi-strand novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Bookman’s Tale, explore the often complex relationship between past and present. In this workshop he will help participants examine ways to incorporate the past into narratives, regardless of when those narratives happen to be set. A little bit of a lecture, a little bit of an in-class exercise, and lots of Q & A.
For those interested in writing for children, Eleanora E. Tate will lead participants in discussions about selected literary devices they might not be familiar with, how to identify them in manuscripts, and how to apply them in their own work. Tate has conducted creative writing workshops in schools, libraries, and universities for children and adults for over forty years, and is the author of eleven novels for young readers. Her workshop is titled “Triggers, Transitions and Tone, Oh My! Using Literary Devices in Children’s Literature.”
The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.