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This workshop will focus on the fundamentals of the creative process for any fiction writers, beginning or advanced, who aspire to create enduring literature. We will address such issues as what is art; what is distinctive about the way the artist addresses the world, the inner self, and the objects to be created; and what are the essential characteristics of fiction as an art form. And, perhaps most importantly, how does the writer maintain creative control of the story writing process.

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In 1977, French novelist Serge Doubrovsky came up with the term “autofiction” to describe his novel, Fils. Exactly what autofiction is has been hotly debated, first in France and later in the U.S. and U.K. ever since. Autofiction is not simply another name for autobiographical fiction. Depending on who’s using the term and in what context, autofiction might come close to what some writers term memoir, or it might come closer to the ironic metafictional treatments of Self popularized by such writers in the 1960’s and 70’s as Kurt Vonnegut and John Barth and more recently, Ben Lerner and Michael Chabon. In this workshop, we will sample it all, reading and writing “Fiction of strictly real events or facts” as well as fantastical and allegorical representations of ourselves, using much of our real biographical information, but not much else. If you like the idea of exploring writing that takes you to an exciting but sometimes uncomfortable spot between real and imagined versions of yourself, then this is the workshop for you.

In advance of the workshop, I will make available to you several examples of different types of autofiction to use as models for your own autofictions.

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How do you get readers to care enough about your characters to keep them reading? How can you reveal settings without slowing the plot? The answer is conflict, the magical ingredient that allows the other ingredients to “strut their stuff.” At the workshop, we will have a brief discussion about the central role of conflict in today’s Twitter-paced world. After this, we will comment on one another's in-progress short fiction.  For participation in the workshop, please email me a one to five-page story, or excerpt, as self-contained as possible, by April 30, 2022 to btravalini@gmail.com. Notification of acceptance will be emailed by May 10, 2022.  Participants will be asked to prepare for the workshop by writing brief comments beforehand on questions that I will email prior to the workshop. I will share one other submission, (another participant’s short story), with each participant for similar comments. You will receive my questions and the submission by May 30, 2022. At the end of the workshop, you will have a better idea about how conflict energizes your scenes and drives your plot forward.

Workshop is limited to 15 participants.

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We live in globalized times. Those of us who regularly traverse nations, cultures or languages embrace the betwixt-and-between of our transnational reality. But how do we write from this “trans” perspective — of trans-national, trans-cultural, trans-lingual, trans-religious, etc. life — in fiction without bumbling into stereotypes or TMI (too much information)? In this workshop, we will consider ways to write our stories by reading like a transnational writer. We will do reading and writing exercises, using excerpts of stories, and respond to questions and writing prompts in search of ways to voice our “trans” global reality.

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The workshop’s major themes are strategies for invention—e.g., imaging and deep-diving randomness; memory work—i.e., plumbing what you remember and know, what you have seen, what disturbs you; and the formal craft of the short story. Its goals include generating writing as content and as literary stylistics. The time is scheduled in quadrants, with individual, small group and whole workshop activities. The first quarter is composed of introductions and reviewing your strengths and goals. The second quarter will focus on time spent on writing, either beginning a new project or working with an on-going project. The third quarter is workshop-focused: small group sharing, critiquing, revisioning the big picture, and minding/mining the particulars. The last quarter is rewriting the workshop project: reframing, cutting, expanding, refining, and polishing. The closing segment of the workshop is celebrating your work with readings and final assessments on takeaways.

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In this workshop, Paul will share what editors, first readers and judges look for in a short story. He will discuss how to get your story published, onto that shortlist and how to avoid the rejection pile. Paul will take you behind the scenes of anthologies, competitions and journals, explaining the psychology of the decision-making process and the importance of ‘That Killer First Page’. He will highlight the essential ingredients to create that crucial story opening. In a form and genre where every word counts, you will get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action; you will also get clues on when to stop. For the workshop, you write an opening and get feedback on that. We will look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.

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By virtue of their brevity, it is quick and easy to provide a writer with great feedback on a short story, right?
Wrong! (And we’ve all lived through a horror to know it.) But at some point in the writing process, we need and want to receive feedback on our short stories. The first half of this workshop will guide you through a range of reflections to help you better understand your own creative process as a short story writer, how to find appropriate feedback and how to hear it in a way that empowers you to serve the story you’ve written. When should we seek feedback? How? And from whom? Is a writing group a good idea? And what group model – if any – might suit us best? The second half of the workshop will provide strategies for giving astute and sensitive feedback on the stories of others and particularly, how to shed light on missed narrative opportunities peculiar to the short form – those elusive and wondrous ‘gaps’ that have the capacity to create whole worlds. This workshop is designed to be empowering, illuminating and skill-building: no scary feedback sessions here.

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We live in strange times. On one hand, we in the 21st Century claim to prize logic and rationality above all else; in our college classrooms, in our Fortune 50 boardrooms and in our civic debates over immigration, climate change and other vexing moral and ethical issues, our society seeks empirical data and proof. Yet in the popular and artistic media the irrational is booming! We are obsessed, it seems, with zombies and vampires, magic and tall tales. Why? Is there something in us that craves the balance of light and darkness? Whatever the reason, short fiction writers should rejoice over the surging interest in the modern fairy tale. Fairy tales—the oldest form of the short story—have always provided an artistic and intellectual space to explore what logic and reason cannot, the unspoken possibilities inherent in human beings.

In this workshop, through a series of exercises, we will leave reality in the dust. We will explore the fairy tale as a highly relevant, accessible, fun and liberating modern form of the short story. In doing so, we will see how this form can enlighten us about the light and dark sides of ourselves.

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In this workshop, I will help the writers enter into negotiations with all their senses, as they begin at the beginning of stories. In other words, we will look at what happens “after the boots have been put on,” as the writer begins those first steps and how to continue walking with confidence. I would like participants to leave knowing why they are creating the particular work they’re engaged in and how to finish it.

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Personal experiences by someone who combines publishing, editing and writing. From putting together the best collection possible to creating can't-miss tag lines, synopses, audience targeting and marketing plans. Historical examples followed by one-on-one tutoring of workshop attendee presentations. This workshop will provide 1. Hands-on information and one-to-one dialogue for short story writers at all levels of their development. The approach will depend on the make-up of the attendees. 2. Specific information on what makes a good short story collection. 3. Information on publishers who are favorable towards publishing short story collections and the types of collections they favor. 4. Information on how to create/fine tune successful tag lines, synopses, audience targeting and marketing plans -- with examples followed by one-on-one with attendees. Mirolla will help writers develop the ability to explain during the workshop the level they're at (how close they feel they are to having a collection ready), and the types of short stories they write. He will assist writers the skill of bringing in tag lines, synopses, audience targeting and marketing plans so that they can be discussed and dissected in the workshop.

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This workshop is interactive and process oriented. It has as its goal, the opening of doors to and enhancing your creative energies. Multiple short activities and exercises bring about exploration and understanding of self, context, relationship...etc. You will participate in the presentation and working through of multiple short activities and exercises to facilitate this opening of doors to your creative mind. We will look at things from diverse points of view. You will dig into your sub-conscious, work to catch floating (and often previously unnoticed) thoughts, expand your thinking and use language to express that thinking. We will turn things upside down and inside out, pay attention to oneself and what is around one's self, hear and see different points of view, capture and record accurately and then engage in playfulness to transform collected data into creative writing pieces.  The workshop will include the cycling and weaving through of activities focused on the following:
1. Notice and attention.
2. Data gathering and accurate recording.
3. Playfulness.


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Every life, everybody's past and present, is brimming with material that can be crafted into a short story. In this workshop there will be an examination of stories that have mined 'the personal' particularly well and how they transcend the limitations of 'fact'. We will discuss how to recognize those situations that have the greatest dramatic adaptability, and ask what it takes to elevate specific life events so that they will work as a story. We will also consider how 'life moments' can inspire us in a thematic or metaphorical sense to create stories unrecognizable as factual to anyone but us.