NC Literary Hall of Fame



CHARLOTTE—On Saturday night of the North Carolina Writers' Network 2018 Fall ConferenceIan Finley will present an abbreviated staging of his new play Native, which explores the relationship and developing tensions between Paul Green and Richard Wright as they try to adapt Wright’s classic novel Native Son for the stage.

Ian also will lead the session "Dramatic Structure, or The Story of My Tattoo."

Fall Conference runs November 2-4, at the Hilton Charlotte University Place. Registration is now open.

Ian Finley holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School at New York University. He served as Resident Playwright for Burning Coal Theatre Company, a small, professional theatre in Raleigh, from 2004 through 2012. In 2012, he was named the Piedmont Laureate in the field of Playwriting and Screenwriting by the arts councils of central North Carolina. He is the author of The Nature of the Nautilus (winner of the Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Award), And There Was War in Heaven (finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), Native, The Greeks, 1960, Jude the Obscure, Suspense, A Perfect Negroni, 11:50, and the Our Histories cycle of site-specific plays for Burning Coal.

This year, NCWN has been celebrating publishers based in North Carolina, so we asked Ian to answer the following prompt:

"Congratulations! You've inherited a large fortune, on the condition that you use it to start your own publishing house. What kind of books are you going to publish?"

Here's what Ian said:

"Because there are a limited number of publishing houses focused on scripts, it's a big challenge for emerging playwrights to get published. They may have well received productions in major cities, but if those cities aren't Chicago, Seattle or New York, getting the validation and boost of a published script is a big challenge. I would love to start Curtain Up Press, a publisher specifically focused on (and actively searching out) writers who have had productions in cities outside of The Big Three and getting them in print. There is incredible theatre from DC to Atlanta (including in North Carolina!); wouldn't it be great to see that in our bookstores too?"

In his session, which is part of an effort by NCWN to expand offerings for writers of stage and screen, Ian will discuss how above all, drama requires conflict. More than in any other form of writing, forces in opposition to each other are the engine of your script (and the way to hold the audience’s interest). Understanding dramatic structure is the key to turning up the conflict, holding your story together, and ultimately developing theme. Useful at every stage of the writing and revising process, dramatic structure is the most valuable tool a writer can wield.

The special performance of Native will be followed by a panel discussion on the play’s themes, and how writers today still grapple with its questions, featuring Paul Green scholar Margaret Bauer, playwright Ian Finley, NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, and Native cast members.

Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Master Classes will be led by Judy Goldman (Creative Nonfiction), Maureen Ryan Griffin (Poetry), Randall Kenan (Fiction), who, as a 2018 inductee into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, also will give the Keynote Address.

Register here.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers, in all genres, at all stages of development. For additional information, visit


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