GREENSBORO, NC—Warp, weave. Thieve and lie. Hearts that beat—and break. Fiction is action, and a good story demands a writer's best verbs. Need proof? Just check out the titles of the fiction course offerings at the upcoming North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 12, at UNCG.
Two-part workshops meet twice during the conference, once during Workshop Session I (in the morning) and again for Workshop Session II (in the afternoon). Peacock, whose first novel Life Without Water was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book, says about her course:
Writing good fiction is not the same as laying a brick wall: first the characterization brick, then the setting brick, then the action brick. Instead, all the elements (character, plot, setting, action, structure, description, emotion, and more) must work together to form the tapestry of storytelling. In this class we will examine successful storytelling through reading and commenting on students' work and the work of published writers, as well as through class exercises.
In addition Drew Perry will lead a fiction workshop titled "Thieves & Liars: How We Build the World."
This workshop will address something critical to the crafting of stories and novels: When and how to steal from the world around us (hint: early and often), and when to make things up (another hint: when the story demands it). Registrants will talk about how things like landscape, humor, oddity, and stray detail are often the most important ways of entering into a piece of work—and keeping it alive in draft after draft after draft. Another way of thinking about this: attendees will talk about how to use their own strange obsessions most productively in their writing. So someone really loves, say, tractors. Or tigers. And they keep appearing on the page. Registrants will find ways to make that feel less weird, and more like they're working.
Perry is the author of two novels: This Is Just Exactly Like You, which was a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and an Atlanta Journal Best of the Year pick for 2010, and Kids These Days, just published by Algonquin Books. He teaches writing at Elon University and holds an MFA from the writing program at UNC-Greensboro.
In the afternoon session, Kim Church will lead a fiction workshop titled "The Beating, Breaking Hearts of Fictional Characters." Church's debut novel, Byrd (Dzanc Books, March 2014), is the fragmented family history of a child secretly given up for adoption.
The heart of fiction is character; but what is the heart of a fictional character? How is it revealed to the writer, and how does the writer express it? This workshop, for fiction writers at all levels, will focus on how to create characters that are unique, lively, and memorable—characters we might like to spend time with after the workshop is over. To prepare for this session, registrants should think of a memorable event from their own life—something that touched or scared or excited or confused or changed or defined them in some small way. Something they don’t mind sharing with others, a moment they’d like to put in a time capsule. Attendees should not write about it beforehand, but come with an idea. And paper and pen.
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.