Updated April 25, 2012

New, this spring:

Compelling Narrative

For Journalists, Writers of Drama (stage, film, TV) and Prose Fiction
interested in refreshing their practice, and exploring a new genres
Interdisciplinary craft workshop/seminar:
learning new forms while expanding common ground.
On-line Workshop: Saturdays, 11:00am to 1:00 pm EST (Canada), May 12-June 30, 2012.  
(Alternate: Wednesday evenings... see below).

NOTE: Enrolement limited to four to six writers per eight week, sixteen hour course.

"A rich and powerful forum for the exchange of ideas
among working writers in related fields.”

Why compelling narrative?

Think of compulsion in two ways: the writer is compelled to dig deep to find a meaningful narrative. The reader, or audience member,  is compelled by the narrative to seek personal echoes of the truths the writer offers up

Compelling narratives operate in two directions: the writer is naturally driven to create a compelling narrative.
To compel the narrative itself. The story-hungry reader and audience member is compelled by the narrative which, if it's well-crafted and thoroughly considered, takes hold and will not let go.  

A third way emerges, a kind of over soul complete in itself, composed of the writer and reader's fused experiences, evidenced in the giving and receiving of narrative.

The job of the narrative is to connect: all that separates reader and writer is time.
“Kent Stetson turns an unfailingly patient ear to the work being produced in real-time by the group. The humour keeping it all afloat is the kind that can only be earned by a prolific teacher who is publishing and producing award-winning work of his own. Stetson is the real thing.” 2010 Workshop participant  Porter Anderson, BA, MA, MFA  

We work on-line. Live. You can join from home or cottage! From anywhere in the world. No need to dress up. We work via Skype, audio only... no video. Wear your ‘jammies or sweats. Be prepared to work hard, despite the informality, and learn from colleagues working in new ways in old and new territory. 

Course Outline

Here's what we'll do and how we'll do it:
  • Week 1:  Assessing your place in time. Past. Present. Future. Three free-write exercises (timed, 1/2 hour each, prepared in advance). He/she (you, objectified) in the past. I/me (you, objectified) in the present. He/she (you, objectified) in the future.   What forces shaped you as a writer? Where are you now, in relation to the world in which you live? Where do you hope to go? Purpose? To identify your particular, personal narrative, to help locate your writerly obsessions and desires in the present and project your intentions into the future. Discussion: Gestalt. Zeitgeist. Fruition. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.
  •  Week 2:  Three (1st, 2nd and 3rd person) free-write perspective exercises: Constructing characters that carry the work's theme, make your arguments, transport the work across the divide from writer to reader. We'll develop five characters: A protagonist, an antagonist, a second or foil for each, and what Robertson Davies identified as the Fifth Business - the force, personified, let loose on your play or novel that forces change upon all. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.
  • Week 3:  Continue free-write character work. Re-examine literary tools. For example; what exactly are plot, story, narrative, character, tension, action. How do they interact? What makes effective dialogue (the ice berg theory: Top one-ninth visible, accessible, compelling dialogue... nine tenths burried, i.e: the subtext).  Drama vs. prose. Scope. Landscape. Interior and exterior worlds. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.
    Eric Bentley tells us the playwright is like a perverse traffic cop:
instead of preventing accidents, he beckons cars into collision.

  • Week 4: Story: The who what where when of narrative. The facts. Construction: the world in which your character live. What story do you want your characters to tell? What argument must they make on your behalf? What is your theme? Motifs?  Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.
  • Week 5:  Story outlines (500 words) read. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.  Lead in to week Six: What is the difference between stroy and plot and why does it matter? 
  • Week 6:  Plot: The how and why of  narrative in all fiction, be it drama or prose.  "The king died the queen died is story. The King died, the queen died of grief is plot." So E. M. Forster told us. And so it remains true. A basic truth we ignore at our peril no matter the genre we work in or wish to experiment with. Discussion: metaphor, irony, theme, motifs, voice, tone, pace, rhythm. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.
"The task of the novelist is not to narrate great events
but to make small ones interesting." Schopenhauer

  • Week 7:  Plot presentations/assessments concluded.  We take lots of time per writer and give fair, rigorous, courteous, balanced critiques. Discussion: Free indirect style and the internal monologue; where prose fiction and dramatic dialogue overlap. Where prose and drama plot paths diverge: a matter of style or content? Or both. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation.
  • Week 8: Your new narrative. Narrative defined: see OED.  What next?  The greatest compulsion of all is toward the exploration, rendition and exportation of the self. Marketing your work. To connect. Hone new tools. Sustain a rigorous practice. Cross disciplines: narrative structures in various genres. Similarities. Distinctions. Convergence. The Third Way. Group assessment. Peer review. Leader summation. Au revoir.

Sign Up

Call me at +1 514 270 1948, or e-mail kent.stetson@sympatico.ca for more info. We'll set up a one-on-one Skype info-date in which I'll answer individual questions regarding the course and its suitability to your particular needs.*

Cost: $1500.00 cdn plus applicable taxes. Paypal, check or international money order. Early sign-up bonus. Payment schedule negotiable.

Note: Depending on numbers, I'll run a second course if required on Wednesday nights, 7 to 9 pm. Remember... no more that 4-6 participants per class.  The course is intense, the attention highly individualized, the discussion animated, intelligent and entertaining. We may go fifteen or twenty minutes past the alloted time. Leave your achedule a little free if you can.

*Selection by converstation. Drop a note (kent.stetson@sympatico.ca) and we'll set up a phone (+1 514 270 1948) or Skype (un: kentstetson) call.

On-going Services

Master CRAFT Works
: Short course: The Character Generated Plot in Drama and Prose Fiction.
Five Weeks. Twenty hours.

Who did what to whom: the who, what, where and when of the story. The How and Why of the plot.

Master TEXT Works: On-going

For induividual drama writers seeking constructive criticism of complete early drafts.

What's the Big Idea? Got your story straight?

Master BOOK Works: On-going

Craft seminar/workshop for individual prose writers: novellas, novels and short fiction.

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader: no joy in the writer, no joy in the reader." W & H Burnett.

Master CHARACTER Works: On-going

Private sessions tailored to the needs of individual writers just starting out.

"I'm sorry.... who did you say you were again?" Write characters who make strong, lasting impressions.
For more details see:

Workshop Information




YouTube: 4 MPW videos