2017 Craft Talks

Join us at the Boulder Generative Workshop to hear from Andre Dubus III, Camille Dungy, and Pam Houston on the following topics:

Digging Beneath the Surface: The Discovery of Story Itself:  If I teach nothing in my writing classes, I teach this: do not outline your novel or novella or short story or essay. Do not think out the plot, the narrative arc, the protagonists’s journey, whatever you want to call it. Instead, try to find the story through an honest excavation of the characters’ total experience of the situation at hand. Do that, and I promise the story will begin to write itself, with little help from the godly, intelligent, well-read, and ambitious author. But how, precisely, does one go about this “excavation”? And how, technically speaking, can we ignite a story into “writing itself”? Come to this workshop, and I will seek to demystify those writerly tools and skills that time and time again, if they are sharp enough, and if the writer can summon enough daily faith and nerve, can penetrate the mystery of story itself. -Andre Dubus III

Writing The Real World:  These are not easy times. As writers, it is sometimes hard to grapple with the world around us without our writing crumpling under the weight of our fears and frustrations. In this workshop, we will read work that engages both the political and the aesthetic as we seek out ways to write compellingly and directly engage with political, environmental, socio-economic, and cultural topics that activate our day-to-day lives. Though we will mostly be reading poems, many of the strategies these writers use can be employed across a number of genres. We’ll even work on drafting some starts ourselves. By the end of the workshop, you should be equipped with several new ways to write the work you need to write in the face of the times in which we are living.  – Camille Dungy

Playing Tennis without a Net, or a Ball, or a Racquet, or a Serena Williams Signature Tennis Skirt:  Dialogue.  Some writers love it, some writers fear it, and all of us, sometimes, could ask it to work harder than we do. This craft talk will examine what dialogue is best at, what dialogue is not so great at, and maybe even more importantly, how to write dialogue that will make your reader want to lean in and listen hard. We’ll talk about all the nuts and bolts of writing great dialogue, pacing, rhythm, those pesky attributions, and why it is often a better idea to sink the emotion of the scene down into the body of the character who is talking, or into the objects in the room, or what’s going on outside the window, rather then letting those emotions sit on top in a bunch of nasty adverbs. We will look at many examples of great dialogue from literature, and then we will write some of our own. – Pam Houston