Craft Talks

Join us at the Workshop @ Boulder to hear talks on craft from our faculty – Pam Houston, BK Loren and Benjamin Percy on the following topics:

Into the deep end (or how to get your writing off to a swimming start without boring your reader to death first). The blank page is a bad mo’ fo’.  And sometimes we are so afraid of it we fill it up with a whole lot of throat clearing that, in the best case scenario we end up cutting later, and in the worst case scenario derails whatever energy sent us to the blank page in the first place.  This weekend we will talk about (and practice) getting the good stuff down first.  The most salient image, the most memorable bit of dialogue, the white hot story moment that we are most terrorized by… We will cover everything from the initial step of paying strict attention (a la Henry James) out in the world, to the methods of collecting the shiny things we witness, to finding an organic structure for those glimmers as we shape them into story. We will worry less about to keep everything under control and more about getting all those electrically charged particles on paper in an order whose illogic might surprise us in all the best ways. - Pam Houston

Constellations (yes, stars in the sky) provide the outlines for some of our culture’s longest lasting stories: they are the basis for mythology (archetypal images). Using constellations as a guide, we can move beyond old notions of structure and find something new, perhaps something more fresh and invigorating. Understanding and mastering “emotional chronology” frees a writer up from linear chronology. Along with this freedom comes a sense of play (combined with rigor). It also helps to assuage a writer’s fear of “getting lost” as a story or novel unfolds. As Emerson once said, “The writer who fears getting lost suffers a complete failure of imagination.” Lost can be good. Lost is often where the magic unfolds. It’s the way a writer finds his/her way back to the page that matters most. Having the guts to get lost and find your own way home: it’s the heart of writing. - BK Loren

The Indelible Image: Moments Make Movies, Moments Make Stories. The shower scene in Psycho, the train station shoot-out in The Untouchables, the escape from the booby-trapped cave in Raiders. These set-pieces are what audiences gaspingly recall three hours, three months, three years after they leave the theater. We will discuss their timing and arrangement with regards to fiction and nonfiction, so that you might include similar crescendos that will transform your stories from merely memorable to iconic. - Benjamin Percy