Sewanee Writers' Conference
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Liminal Spaces and Rites of Passage: World-Building and Guiding Characters Through the Unknown w. Darcy Parker Bruce
What makes a play distinctly a play? How do the characters that populate plays differ from the characters that populate films or books? In this class we will discuss how to break with traditional realism and imagine spaces that exist between the known and the unknown. Number of sessions: 3.
Unconventional Approaches to Ekphrastic Poetry w. Adam Vines
In this master class, we will look at models of ekphrastic poems that move in surprising directions, distinguishing themselves from the ekphrastic poems that merely ground themselves in the encapsulated content within the confinement of the frame. In addition, we will look at paintings by artists such as Hopper, Miro, and Frankenthaler and discuss the narrative trajectories that are evoked by the frozen moment in the painting and how these trajectories can inform a unique approach to a draft.
Pitch On: How to Successfully Query Magazines & Websites w. Alyssa Konermann
Get the editor's side of story pitches: What makes the good ones stand out? What might be getting yours deleted that has nothing to do with your story? When's the time to send? And to whom should you send? I'll offer a candid take on what to expect, how to proceed, and how to place—and get paid for—your stories with magazines, websites, and other outlets. I will also offer feedback on one pitch per participant within a week of the class. Number of sessions: 1.
Gusto in Meaning: What this Editor Hopes for in all Three Genres w. Speer Morgan
This class will try to point out what this editor looks for in the pieces that we publish. We now receive so many "almosts" that it would seem useful to convey what we hope to see in published pieces. William Hazlitt wrote "On Gusto," an essay in which he defined the greatest artists as capable of displaying gusto or "some character of power." What we look for at TMR is power in meaning, theme, or overall purpose by whatever style or method the author employs.
How to Catch an Agent’s Eye with Your Opening Pages w. Renée Zuckerbrot
Every agent’s in-box is flooded with queries and sample pages. How can you make your pages catch and hold an agent’s attention? What are we looking for in an opening paragraph? What turns us off? In this class, I'll bring sample pages to illustrate what agents are hoping to find when they open your Word attachment. I’ll highlight the markers agents are looking for in your writing, and the markers that will take you out of the running.
‘Who Am I?’: Character On Stage w. Dan O’Brien
The theatre is a crucible of identity. We will investigate how we create and develop compelling characterizations over the course of a play’s narrative arc. Where is the playwright’s identity—that is, the playwright’s own character—amidst the characters of the play? As we strive to create theatre with integrity and empathy: in whose voice can we—should we, must we—speak? Each session will consist of a short lecture followed by discussion and responding to participants' work.
Sell Your Show w. Jessica St. Clair
Actor, writer, and producer Jessica St. Clair, who has co-created comedies for NBC, HBO, and USA, will share strategies and tools for taking a TV series idea from your notebook to pitch meetings to the soundstage and beyond. Participants are encouraged—but not required—to come prepared with drafts of synopses and treatments for the discussion portion of these online meetings.
The Art of the Query Letter (and anything else you ever wanted to know about how publishing really works) w. Anjali Singh
This master class will help you write a successful query letter. Some of the subjects covered will include: "doing your homework"; how to describe your work in a selling way and writing your own flap copy; thinking about your literary influences and authors you imagine your work sitting alongside; articulating why your book is meaningful to you and will be to potential readers; what and how much to include in your bio. Participants may send their own query letters and questions ahead of class.
The Art of the Pitch: How to Free Your Story Description from Chronology w. Liz Van Hoose
“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.” —Warren Spahn
You’ve finally hit the print button. Now comes the question: How to convey your thematically rich, high-stakes, character-driven fiction without resorting to episodic summary? This seminar will cover the fundamentals of pitching your work to agents, with a focus on crafting a winning description of your novel. Bring your book synopses and pitch letter drafts. We’ll roll up our sleeves and make magic together in 300 words or less.
(Re)considering inclusion and diversity in your writing w. Sharrell Luckett
What does it mean to write the voice of a culture that you have limited knowledge about? How do you maintain the integrity of your piece when it's being published or staged by PWIs; or a company and editors with limited knowledge on the topic? Using key concepts from the field of "black acting methods", such as community, devising, and identity-building, this workshop will center the most pressing issues and concerns about inclusion and diversity as it relates to your writing.
Short Fiction Workshop w. Adam Latham
Each participant will submit one short story (15 pages double-spaced, max). We will examine exemplary stories by other writers, discuss aspects of craft (with particular emphasis on voice, dialogue, character, and structure), and critique submitted work. Participants will read each submitted story, provide a thoughtful written response, and engage in workshop discussion. 1 workshop of 3 meetings.
What All Publishing Professionals Wish New Writers Would Know: You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way w. Gail Hochman
The basic rules of publishing are absorbed relatively well by new writers: learn your genre or your type of book; identify your audience; only send your most polished material; etc. In this class, I want to talk about the real things that motivate every agent and editor, how and why they make the decisions they do, what you should look for in an agent and editor, how to induce your agent/editor to work harder for you, and why every book length project you write may not need to be published.
Writing Parents and Their Children w. Ananda Lima
Parent-child relationships are personal, emotionally charged, and complex, and can offer rich meaningful material for a writer. But some of the same features that make it a powerful source, can also make it difficult to gain distance from the writing. This multi-genre, generative workshop will look at the crafting challenges and opportunities of writing about parents, children, and their relationship.
Behind the Curtain: How Acquisitions Decisions Get Made w. Millicent Bennett
Join Millicent Bennett, Senior Editorial Director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for a revealing glimpse into the decision-making process of an acquisitions editor at the major New York publishers. A longtime editor of both fiction and nonfiction, Bennett talks writers through the steps that an editor and her acquisitions committee take in deciding which projects to pursue, as well as providing additional context for the many complex factors that can lead to an offer and a book contract.
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