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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.

Please submit up to 1,500 words from a single work, along with your current CV or resume detailing your literary experience, no later than March 27. Submissions should be saved as an MS Word document, using double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

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.

 

GREENSBORO—From “The Iliad” to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” poetry has been a storytelling force for thousands of years. Poetry examines the relationships around us: in politics, myth, and among our families and friends. The genre is unique in its power to engage the listener and serve as a catalyst for change.

At the upcoming North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference, attendees have the opportunity to examine this time-honored method of storytelling and search for the deeper connections in the fabric of everyday life in workshops led by three highly acclaimed poets.

Joseph Mills, author of five poetry collections including This Miraculous Turning (Press 53, 2014), will lead the Master Class in Poetry, “Changing Stories.”

In his Tiffany Aching series, Terry Pratchett writes, “There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” In this workshop, we will consider the power of changing the stories we live among. This may be a matter of re-telling a story, turning it, or tearing it apart. We may consider fairytale retellings (such as Anne Sexton’s Transformations), changes in perspective (such as Gregory McGuire’s Wicked), or examples of ekphrasis (such as W.H. Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts” or Billy Collins’ “The Brooklyn Museum of Art” in which the narrator walks into a painting by Frederick Edwin Church). In doing so, the emphasis will be on practical exercises to generate material. In addition to looking at submitted poems, we will be taking advantage of the workshop’s two-part structure to generate material and then return to it.

Please submit three poems, along with your current CV or resume detailing your literary experience, no later than March 27. Poems should be saved in a single MS Word document, using single-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Rachel Richardson, a 2013-14 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and author of two poetry collections, including the forthcoming Hundred-Year Wave (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016), will lead the poetry workshop, “Excavating Artifacts: Poetry and Documentary Forms.”

How can a poem confront and engage history, politics, place, and myth? For poetry that seeks to explore the past, or witness the present, or speak out of a deeply-rooted landscape, it is easy to revert to comfortable modes of telling. How do we make these stories live, without slipping into nostalgia or polemic? To shake loose our stories and invigorate language and form, it can be helpful to borrow from the documentarian's tools. This workshop will explore ways of writing and revising using primary source documents, such as newspaper articles, family photographs, transcribed interviews, court cases, letters, keepsakes, and more. Participants should bring a couple of "documents" (to be interpreted as loosely as you like) that interest you to work with—anything that has a story to tell. We will spend workshop time discussing published “documentary poems” and their strategies, and doing generative writing exercises that will spark your own poems.

In the afternoon, conference-goers will have the rare opportunity to take a workshop from the presenter of this year’s Keynote Address. Jaki Shelton Green, a 2014 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, will address the general session at 11:00 am. After lunch, she’ll lead the poetry workshop, “Conversations in the Lines, or Eavesdropping on Yourself.”

What are the relationships you have with your poems that inspire or inhibit your voice from “telling” or showing up? Bring poems that you have strong relationships with. We will explore where these relationships, like kinships and friendships, intersect, collide, marry, divorce, confront, and unite in our poetics. How do these relationships limit or help to push the territory of language? How do these relationships inform, demand, dominate, or suppress? (Secrets, lies, fantasies . . .) There will also be a focus on selected poems that illustrate “what we talk about when we look at ourselves.”

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.

 

GREENSBORO, NC—Creative nonfiction aims to tell the truth. But historical accuracy alone isn’t enough to create a compelling narrative: the stories must be worth telling, and then told with an authentic, irresistible voice.

Nonfiction writers will have a chance to hone these vital elements of the craft at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference, held April 18 in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Eric G. Wilson, a professor of English at Wake Forest University and author of three works of creative nonfiction, will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class, “Creating Presence.”

The Creative Nonfiction Master Class will meet twice during the conference: once during Workshop Session I (in the morning) and again for Workshop Session II (in the afternoon). The course description is as follows:

Without a strong voice, prose—no matter how stylistically felicitous—feels generic, institutional, and bloodless. Animated with an engaging persona, the same words spring into an essay: idiosyncratic, imaginative, vibrant. But while essential for powerful creative nonfiction, voice is notoriously difficult to define. Sure, we say it’s the personality of the writer, the unique presence, the controlling consciousness, the point of view, the constructed “I” behind the “eye,” and so on. These traditional definitions, however, are almost as vague as the term they are meant to clarify. In this workshop, we will do our best to understand voice conceptually and practically. We will discuss how important writers have understood voice as well as how it works in selected essays (including those submitted for this workshop). We will also complete exercises designed to strengthen your voice. You should come away from the sessions with strategies for creating a more captivating verbal presence.

Please submit up to 1,500 words from a single work, along with your current CV, no later than March 27. Submissions should be saved as an MS Word document, using double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

In addition, Marianne Gingher, author of Bobby Rex’s Greatest Hit, will lead a workshop titled “Stories Worth Telling.”

We know what they are. They keep happening to us. If we live long enough, our personal histories pile up the drama. How do we make sense of all the stories we’ve lived? Which of them demand to be told, and why? How do we make personal experience make sense to others in such a way that readers connect and identify? This is a workshop in the “personal” narrative or “writing from life.” Participants should bring a “time line” of their lives, documenting dates and a “headline” summary of the five or six most significant events/turning points of their lives. We will discuss techniques for making memoir writing come alive and include a brief in-class writing exercise with feedback. Two personal narratives that workshop participants might want to read before they attend the class are “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard and “The Lamb Roast” by Rosemary Hamilton. Both were published in the New Yorker and should be accessible online.

Writer and musician Tom Maxwell, formerly of the band The Squirrel Nut Zippers, will lead an afternoon workshop titled “Narrative Truth vs. Historical Truth.”

Memoir writing is, by needs, the art of navigating a strange terrain. How does one turn real people into characters? How does a messy, non-linear story get hammered into a narrative arc? What gives one the right, ultimately, to do this? Let’s discuss the manifold issues of objective truth, characterization, and emotional authenticity.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference 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.

 

 
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