Our online writing courses are a great way to be part of the Writing Workshops Dallas community even if you don’t live in North Texas.Read More
We're having a weekend Flash Sale good for 15% Off any of our upcoming 8-Week classes that start this month. We've got great courses to choose from in Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Screenwriting, and Online Classes. Just use discount code FLASH at checkout.
If you've already enrolled in one of our 8-week classes starting in October, we'd love for you to be our guest at an upcoming Seminar of your choosing. Simply contact us HERE and tell us which Seminar you'd like to attend for free (in-person or live stream).
Law and Order and its franchises have made a multi-decade run ripping stories from the headlines. It’s a good practice for a police-and-courtroom procedural–perhaps even a necessary practice for one lasting so long.
Writers are sometimes wary of that kind of headline ripping, and other times not interested. It doesn’t feel as creative. It doesn’t feel original. And newspaper headlines are not always the most intriguing or inspiring fare.
But newspapers are only one possible source of information, and many–magazines, documentaries, podcasts–have the express goal of finding and delivering the most interesting stories possible.
As for creativity and originality, there’s no requirement that a you write a story the same way you heard it, and that’s rarely the goal. Shift an idea. Transform it. Move it to a new state.
What you want is to strike sparks from your imagination, and to do that well, you need to strike your imagination against the world. This is what we will be looking at in my ONLINE Workshop: Finding Your Material in the Real World. You can learn more about this 5-week class, in which we will generate ideas for stories, by clicking on the button below. I hope you’ll join us!
What if blindness was contagious? What if everyone rode unicycles instead of bicycles? What if snow glowed in the dark? What if humans became unable to conceive children?
Most great ideas start with a “what if?”--but not all what-ifs are equal. Two of the ideas above are resonant, evocative. Two are not. Unicycle-world is quirky. There’s some magic to a world where snow glows. But neither is likely to strum a sympathetic chord within us. Neither is it tied to larger concerns and themes.
That’s what resonance is: the prolonging of a sound, the stretching of it. The way one frequency is tied to another.
Contagious blindness, the premise behind Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago’s Blindness, is connected to disaster and illness, to the idea of contagion, and the various metaphorical meanings of blindness.
The end of human conception resonates as well. Connected ideas: survival, fragility, sterility. Bonding and lack of bonding. Hope, or the end of it. Life and self-preservation. (This idea formed the basis for the book The Children of Men and its film adaptation).
Resonant ideas are a writer’s lifeblood. Always be on the lookout for them.
Five years ago, I listened to an interview with a pianist about playing music designed to be nearly impossible to play. I immediately thought “What if someone wrote music designed to actually be impossible to play?” Impossibility. Challenge. Composing. Performing. The difficulties and impossibilities of living any life.
It would be three years before I found the right form for that story, but it was on my mind the whole time. The idea hummed against other ideas.
When an idea does that, it means there is a story to be written, and that is what we will be looking at in my ONLINE Workshop: Finding Your Material in the Real World. You can learn more about this 5-week class, in which we will generate ideas for stories, by clicking on the button below. I hope you’ll join us!
We tend to think of cooking as how you work a stove. Don’t let the chicken dry out. Don’t burn the garlic. Don’t overwork the pie dough.
What happens in the pan matters, of course, but it’s not the only thing that matters. You don’t have to watch many cooking shows before you hear a chef opine about the importance of working with quality ingredients. This refrain is as uniform in the culinary world as any piece of writing advice is in our literary world. And not for nothing: what could be more important to a dish than what it’s made out of?
To my mind, we often have a similar blindspot in the writing community. We focus on how to write this sentence, where to end the story, how to manage the pace. Only rarely do we speak of the other half of the process. As much art fails at the level of conception as it does at the level of execution. Stories are sometimes boring or overwrought because of the writing, but just as often the problem stems from an insufficient or poorly developed premise.
My upcoming ONLINE class, “Finding Your Material in the Real World,” is meant to remedy the lack of instruction devoted to finding and developing ideas. Improving the way you find and develop ideas can do as much to drive your writing forward as learning about drafting and revision. It can also be a lot of fun.
I hope to see some of you there. Click on the button below to learn more and register!
In the 1960s, a genre called “New Journalism” exploded onto the reporting scene. No longer was “objectivity” the ultimate journalistic goal; this new sort of writing was chaotic, messy, colorful, in-depth, expensive to assign (ha), and brimming over with the voice of the writer. Its pioneers were writers like Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Gay Talese; today, its lovechild, “longform” journalism, is thriving on the internet via both old-school publications and websites like The Atavist Magazine, Longreads, and California Sunday. It’s characterized by length (say, 2,000-20,000 words) and by elements of creative writing like scenes, narrative arc, dialogue, and characters. And it’s super fun to write. But where does one start?
Over the eight weeks of this ONLINE course, we’ll read some of most energetic, crackling longform writing from the past 50 years, and try to figure out how the pieces work, both formally and emotionally. We will talk about the techniques of longform (do you just, like, interview someone for seven hours and hope a story comes out the other side?) and whether or not objectivity is overrated. Students will also work on their own longform projects, which can range from purely reported to reported-personal to personal-historical and everything in between. (Note that these will not be straightforward personal essays, though.) By the end of the class, you will have your own longform piece that will be workshopped in class and receive private feedback from the instructor. You will also have a better understanding of the current longform scene, including publications to pitch and practical tips for finding story material.
Fee: $495 for new students; $470 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)
Having a literary community is essential to the life of any writer. Won't you join us at Writing Workshops Dallas? All spring classes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting (in-person & online classes) now enrolling.
Zap, Pow, Bam!
Those words exploded on the screen of my youth (and maybe yours, too) during the famously cheesy fight scenes in the Batman TV series. I loved them. Their primal colors and expanding letters syncing with horn blares, punctuating the show with such onomatopoetic pleasure – who could resist? It was the psychedelic 60’s on the heels of the afrofuturism that began in the 50’s, and the art and streets were in full rebellion against, well, you name it.
This is an oversimplification, of course, times and people being what they are — complicated and variable. Besides, I didn’t know any of that then. Heck, I wasn’t even born when the episode at the bottom of this post first aired. But I am looking back on those scenes, overlaying them with colorized scrims of meaning for myself.
Why am I doing this? Because I’ve been ruminating on small packages of words that convey a lot with a little. In a word, I’m thinking about FLASH. Also known as sudden, micro, mini, prose poem and hybrid, flash pieces are writing of up to about 1500 words. We might think of them as works that make their own small screens and then fill them. My first book, (made), is a concatenated collection of such writing. Bhanu Kapil called a it “magical dictionary….It’s not trajectory. It’s not narrative. It’s vibration.” (Thanks, Bhanu!)
In these shorter works, the words do extra work. They do vibrate together. And so we must pay extra attention to how they are fitting together. And yet, we can also shoot out of the cannon without worrying we will fall to the ground before hitting our target because we do not have to go as far as we do in the short story or essay or novella or, god forbid, the book. So much possibility in brevity! Which isn’t to say that we need to think of truncating our expression; hardly. We can think of it as an explosion onto the page.
That’s one way, anyway. I also adore flash that sneaks up on me. Or quietly and kaleidoscopically turns around its subject creating prisms on the walls in the room in which I’m reading. There are so many modes for making in this form. I’m back to working on a few of them of late as helpmates to the multimedia novel I’ve been writing for a handful of years now. They serve to give me a sense of completion while I spend the majority of my days with the sense of leaving everything unfinished each time I shut down my computer.
And so I decided to share my process. To that end, I’ve created a Flash Writing workshop for Writing Workshops Dallas. Come write with me! You can respond in fiction or CNF (creative non-fiction). It’s online so you can join in from anywhere. We will read, write, critique, and discuss these gems and also cover avenues for publishing. A one-on-one consultation with me on your work is included.
All the details are here at Writing Workshops Dallas, which starts on April 9th.
GUEST BLOG POST by Cara Benson originally appeared on her Blog.
We're super excited to have a great slate of online classes enrolling this spring. And we're even luckier to have Instructors like Tori Telfer (Lady Killers, Harper Perennial 2017), Nicole Kelly (Kimbilio Fiction Fellow, MFA UC-Irvine), and Cara Benson (New York Times, Electric Literarure) teaching these classes:
No matter where you live, we're happy to welcome you into our writing community! Won't you join us in 2018!
This ONLINE flash writing workshop is built for writers at any point in their journey (beginner through advanced) who want to focus on creating a batch of short pieces in either fiction or CNF – or both! Currently, there is an amazing abundance of flash being published in print and online. This course is designed to take part in this conversation. Not only will we read, discuss, write, and revise short works, but we will also consider possibilities for publishing this writing. Each participant will have the opportunity to workshop twice. This critique will be grounded on the principles of honesty, generosity, consideration, and respect. Participants will find their own writing and revising getting sharper as they hone their skills at responding constructively to others' work. A one-on-one conference with the instructor via Skype is included.
NOTE: Students are required to purchase a copy of Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories and The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction as the foundational texts for this course.
Fee: $495 for new students; $470 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)
- Cara Benson, Instructor
- Enrollment limit: 8 students
- April 9, 2018 to May 28, 2018
- Course is fully ONLINE; students can work according to their own schedule within weekly deadlines. Once you have enrolled the instructor will send you a link to our online classroom, provided via Wet Ink.
To register, simply click on the photo above! We look forward to having you in class with us this spring!
Our Spring 2018 workshops and seminars at Writing Workshops Dallas are Now Enrolling! In addition to our multi-week Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Screenwriting workshops, this year we've added Online Workshops in Fiction, Summer Teen Classes, Grant Writing Services, and an exciting series of craft-focused Seminars that you can attend in-person or Live Stream.
We believe having a literary community is essential to the life of any creative writer, no matter the stage of your career. And we're thrilled to be part of the thriving literary scene in Dallas and proud of the writers who've trusted us with their work. Check out our Testimonials page to see what our students have to say about us. We'd love for you to become part of our community in 2018! This is the year you write your story and find your readers. Our classes are inclusive and intentionally small, and spots are filling up. So check 'em out and avoid the waitlist before your spot is taken!