Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Notable Writer's Center Classes

Of course there are many wonderful classes offered this fall at the Writer’s Center (including two of my own; read more about them here). But these three stood out to me—perhaps because I know that these instructors are top-notch.

--Writing for Children and Teens, taught by Ellen Braaf (in Leesburg)
--Personal Essay: The Natural World, taught by Lisa Couturier
--Flash Fiction, taught by C.M. Mayo

See below for more details, or go directly to the Writer’s Center web site.

Writing for Children and Teens: The Magazine Markets
Writing for magazines read by children and teens is a great way to break into publishing and hone your literary skills. Using participants' works-in-progress, we'll explore ways to craft engaging stories and articles. In-class exercises will help get stalled projects back on track and generate ideas for future submissions. Our investigation into current markets for short fiction, nonfiction, humor, puzzles, crafts, and games will be tailored to participants' needs. Beginners are welcome. If you have a manuscript ready for review (maximum 10 double-spaced pages), please bring 12 copies to the first session. 6 sessions. No meeting 10/8)

Ellen R. Braaf: MS, freelancer, ghostwriter, reviewer, teacher, has published fiction, nonfiction, and humor for children and adults. Author of six science books for PowerKids Press, Ellen has been a columnist and feature writer for ASK magazine (Arts and Sciences for Kids) since it was launched by the Cricket Group and Smithsonian magazine in 2002. She serves as Mid-Atlantic Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and as Co-chair of Northern Virginia Writers

Wednesdays, starting September 10, 7:30-10:00 p.m. (Leesburg)

Personal Essay: The Natural World
If Nature is life, then “nature writing” is writing about life in its many forms. For example, a “nature essay” (if we must call it that) about your garden / your hike up a mountain / your walk along the beach / or the vulture flying overhead, etc., will be as much about the exterior landscape as it is about your interior landscape. What are the meanings we gather from our experiences in the natural world? Why do we go there? How does nature connect to culture? How do the human, the environmental, and the personal intersect? In this workshop we will use writing prompts and writing assignments, as well as some examples from the instructor’s work, to understand the genre. We will look at aspects of craft: imagery, detail, figurative language, voice, character, conflict, setting, etc., and how all of this weaves together with storytelling, memoir, research, and narrative as we work on producing a piece of writing of about 4 or more pages long. We will submit this work-in-progress to the class as we move forward. We also will work on editing and revision, which often is the best part of writing. All levels of experience welcome. Several of my former students have gone on to publish in national anthologies and magazines (after many revisions of course!). 8 sessions

Lisa Couturier
is the author of The Hopes of Snakes & Other Tales from the Urban Landscape (Beacon, 2006), a collection of essays that explores the relationship between the human and the nonhuman. She holds a master’s degree in Literary Ecology from New York University and has worked as an environmental writer, a travel writer, and as articles editor for national magazines. Her articles and essays have appeared in Orion, Isotope, Tiferet, and other national magazines, anthologies, and literary journals. In 2006 she was listed as a notable essayist in Best American Essays. She is currently at work on a memoir about motherhood and horses. Couturier lives with her family in the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County, Maryland. Visit her website at www.lisacouturier.com

Wednesdays, starting October 1, 2008, from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.

Flash Fiction
Flash, or micro-fictions are stories as short as six and as long as, say, 1,000 words. Though a genre with a distinguished tradition, flash fiction is perfectly suited for blogging and podcasting. For both beginning and advanced writers, this workshop will focus on improving your fiction-writing craft and generating new material. Suggested reading prior to the workshop: Dinty W. Moore, ed., Sudden Stories: The Mammoth Book of Miniscule Fiction. 1 session.

C.M. Mayo is the author of the forthcoming novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books); Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico (Milkweed Editions), and Sky Over El Nido (University of Georgia Press), which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her many other awards include three Lowell Thomas Awards for travel writing, three Washington Writing Prizes, and numerous fellowships, among them, to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Her work has appeared in many outstanding literary journals, among them, Chelsea, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Paris Review, and Tin House. An avid translator of contemporary Mexican literature, she is also founding editor of Tameme and editor of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. For more about C.M. Mayo and her work, visit www.cmmayo.com.

Sunday, October 5, 1 pm to 4 pm (one session)

Details about all of these classes—and many more!—can be found here.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.