“In-depth exploration of story through my Character Perspective Exercises© expands and elevates the individual writer’s understanding of their emerging narrative.”
WRITERS I’VE SERVED
- Writers of Prose Fiction
- Writers of all ages and stages starting out or returning to the craft
- Established writers seeking craft skills in a new field
- Actors and directors committed to writing solid dialogue for stage and large and small screen
- Academic writers wishing to strengthen their narrative push, and to infuse historic or actual persons with contemporary credibility
- Anyone wanting to hone their story telling chops, with special reference to potent characters and structurally dependable narrative arcs.
Without question, the best workshops have been composed of an eclectic mix of people from various cultures and disciplines, with differing skill sets, at varied levels of their practice.
See side-bar, ENDORSEMENTS.
EVERY PROJECT ADVANCED. EVERY QUESTION EXPLORED. EVERY VOICE HEARD.
The online vocal and written exchanges are communal, intense and intimate. Feedback is immediate and mediated. We work hard to critique what you have actually written, not what we may have misheard, or re-wrote in our minds as we listened.
Your ideas are protected and your work respected. Group rapport is fundamental. Our four-fold purpose is to write, listen, challenge and support.
Only one phrase is actively discouraged: “If I had written this, I would have…” The fact is, there is only one writer per project. The writer is the best judge of their work. The final arbiter is you.
There are rarely more than eight participants per course, its members meeting for two hours weekly. Courses span four to eight weeks, depending on the needs and availability of the applicants.
Courses are generally conducted on the weekend, most often Saturday, the most convenient time for working folk. I’ve given Wednesday night courses too. They work fine, but are a little more time zone sensitive, especially for writers joining the group from Europe.
And, of course, I’m always delighted to work one on one.
ON-LINE, LIVE, AND INTERACTIVE
The exercises are based on live, group interaction. Assessment is careful, considered, respectful and rigorous: we determine what the writer actually wrote as opposed to what we think we heard. Work expands organically. Naturally. Writing is re-writing. Only by exploring breadth and depth can we elevate new work.
Polished work and follow-up comments are exchanged between participants by e-mail, and live, on-line.
The sessions are real-time, computer to computer via. Skype, which is free, easy to download and simple to use. We use voice only, no cams. We’re writers after all. It’s the voice and the ideas it transmits, the thoughts, that count. The sound quality is always extraordinary. It really feels like we are all in the same room working together.
Each two hour session begins with a fifteen to twenty minute exploration of the basics — the craft — of dramatic or prose fiction narrative. Ninety minutes of writing and listening exercises follow.
“Whether you’re a seasoned dramatist, an established poet, a prose fiction writer seeking the tools to master a new genre, or just starting out, The Character Generated Story Workshop takes you quickly, with depth and precision, to the heart of your characters and the story you need them to tell.”
See FAQ, below, for answers to common questions.
LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STORY AND PLOT
E. M. Forster, in his wonderful collection of craft essays on drama and prose fiction, Aspects of the Novel, says it best:
“The king died, the queen died is the story;
the king died, the queen died of grief is the plot.”
I believe, like Forster, that the essentials of character, story and plot are common to both prose fiction and drama. In both genres, action speaks louder than words.
The plot, the arrangement of events — i.e., what the characters do, not only what they say — shapes the story.
Story drives the forward motion of the load-bearing narrative.
Forster also tells us the essence of all art boils down to two simple words: Only Connect.
Writing can be perilous, some say must be perilous. Emotional audacity and intuitive courage must be balanced with knowledge of essential elements of craft and the intellectual discipline to establish a stable, sustainable practice.
“No tears in the writer,” Whit and Halley Burnet tell us in The Fiction Writers Hand Book, “no tears in the reader. No joy in the writer, no joy in the reader.”
You’ll emerge with a carefully worked, thoroughly assessed five hundred word story outline, a one page synopsis suitable for marketing/fund raising, and a three page ‘producer’s’ outline. You’ll have several carefully shaped chapters and/or scenes, a strong sense of beginning, middle and end and a grasp of the theme that will drive your work forward to completion.
You’ll be well on your way to an advanced draft of a work in progress, or the first draft of a new work.
The design of the live, on-line workshops arises from popular, successful live courses offered by MasterPlayWorks at L’Atelier La Roque Alrick in Provence, France, the National Theatre School of Canada, McGill and Concordia Universities, the Quebec Writers Federation, the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, writer’s organizations across Canada, private workshops, and one-on-one dramaturgical sessions in professional work environments countrywide and abroad.
Theory and practice, craft and imagination play off each other in lively, informed discussion moderated with rigorous criticism, careful insight and general good humour. The great strength of the courses is the timed Character Perspective Exercises, which are assessed live on-line by the group in positive, supportive, challenging exploration. Developed in tandem with my personal practice and award-winning professional publication and production history, my craft-oriented courses help writers strengthen the dynamics, thematics and architecture of their work.