GREENVILLE—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Squire Summer Writing Workshops run July 18-21 on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville.
The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer a limited number of attendees the chance to spend fifteen hours studying one genre with one instructor in a small-group setting, along with ample time to attend programs and readings, write, reflect, and dine with one another. In other words, the chance to live a literary life, at least for one long weekeend.
Alex Albright will lead the creative nonfiction workshop, "Dramatic Plot Not Required."
Good creative nonfiction is an immersion into another world. It needn’t be plot driven: it’s always more than a record of what happened, and much more than simply writing from an "I" point-of-view. Its definition, in fact, sometimes seems fluid and subjective. This session will begin with a brief historical overview of how the newest literary genre came to be before, and of how it’s variously defined. Writers will soon settle on personal goals of CNF that match their interests in writing nonfiction prose: memoir? travel, history, review or opinion piece? biography? Primary emphasis is on how writers at any stage in their career can employ the techniques usually common to writing fiction—setting, dialog, and character development especially—to better authenticate their creative nonfiction work, with a special emphasis on developing settings and a narrator’s identity appropriate to both your story and the time and place in which it occurs. Participants should bring to class introductory paragraphs for two or three of their favorite nonfiction pieces by other writers.
Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the workshop.
"I don't so much teach writing as personal editing skills," says Alex. "How do you get the distance needed to read your own manuscript with the same kind of attention to detail that you bring to others' manuscripts?
"Why you're wanting to tell the story you're telling is your business—and I'm glad for it. What I want to happen in a good workshop is to help you better authenticate the two traditional aspects of good writing, setting and character development.
"To that end, I'm interested in raising awareness of the importance of multiple layers of temporal and spatial settings, often with a mix of emotional and literal takes on the particular times and places in which your narratives occur.
"And too many writers, it seems, demonstrate in their writing the belief that creative nonfiction is merely a true story told from an 'I' point of view, a partial truth at best. Without making your narrator a real character, no one can really hear your voice or know the motivations of your lead character. Your relationships to the narrative you're telling and to the places and times of that narrative ought to round out your character in a way that draws readers in. But if the narrator remains a generic 'I,' that's a tough sell. To that end, I find it helpful to add to almost any major character, narrator included, a sense of distant and recent pasts as well as notions of what will happen soon in their lives, as well as what they hope, or dream of, for their future.
"It's a package, of course, in different sizes and wraps, depending on you, the maker. And the best packages are personal in a way that transcends the facts of their narrative. Helping you to find that transcendence is one of the most important ways a community of writers functions, and it's a major reason for treasuring these communities wherever you can find them. They are never guaranteed and they almost always take work and patience, some good editorial eyes, and writers whose egos are strong enough to withstand questions.
Alex Albright developed one of the first creative nonfiction curriculums in the U.S. while teaching at East Carolina University, where he also founded the North Carolina Literary Review. A Graham native, he earned degrees in English and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC Greensboro, where he studied with Fred Chappell. His book The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy was a 2014 Montaigne Medal finalist. In 2015, the NCLR established the Alex Albright Award for Creative Nonfiction. His recent publicatons include “Langston Hughes in Reno” in Nevada Magazine; “Carolina Bluegrass Band: Getting Good Grades from Russell Johnson” in Bluegrass Unlimited; “On Bohemian Bluegrass, Beer, Some Barbecue and a Few Weeks in Prague” in storySouth; and “Mose McQuitty’s Band and Minstrel Days, 1899-1937” in Bandwagon, which won the 2017 Stuart Thayer Prize for Best Publication on Circus History. He lives in Fountain and with his wife, Elizabeth, operates Fountain General Store; they were co-recipients of the 2012 Brown-Hudson Award from the NC Folklore Society.
Additional workshops include Fiction led by Emily Colin and Poetry led byLenard D. Moore.
Registration for the Squire Summer Writing Workshops is open. Register now.