Pioneer Valley Writers' Workshops

Sunday afternoons, October 22-November 12, 1:30-3:30 pm. These workshops are held in memory of Eli Daniel Nemetz Todd, a writer born and raised in Northampton who died in October 2016 at the age of 23. They are made possible by donations to the Center for the Arts in Eli’s honor. Fee is $5 per workshop. Space is limited. RSVP required. See descriptions and links below.

Intro to Fiction: Generative Writing Workshop
Sunday, October 22 (1:30 – 3:30pm) $5 fee
Instructor: Kate Senecal
To RSVP click here .

This fiction writing workshop is for writers who have a short story or novel dying to come to life but don’t know where to start. We’ll cover the basic elements of fiction (characterization, plot, conflict, narrative structure, pacing, etc.) through brief craft lessons, discussing short readings, and trying our hands at several in-class writing exercises. You’ll also leave with tips and strategies about how to get started on new pieces of writing and what to try when you’re really feeling stuck! Open to writers of all levels.

All About Character: Details, Development, Motivation
Sunday, October 29 (1:30 – 3:30pm) $5 fee
Instructor: Joy Baglio
To RSVP click here .

Perhaps you’re wondering how to make your characters more believable? Are they driven by fierce, urgent desires, or is what motivates them vague and confusing? What are some ways to create more empathy for your characters, even the obviously flawed ones? In this class, we'll focus on all-things character-related: From descriptive details and minor characters to protagonist development, motivation, and character arcs. We’ll look at examples from Tim O’Brien, Aimee Bender, Flannery O’Connor, and Nabokov, among others, and we’ll discuss the specific choices that each author makes in the creation of vibrant characters that readers have a hard time forgetting. Participants will leave with several character sketches based on in-class writing exercises, as well as a clearer understanding of what goes into creating compelling characters. Bring any questions you have regarding character-creation in a recent project. Open to writers of all levels.

Wish You Were Here: The Art of the Postcard Poem
Sunday, November 5 (1:30 – 3:30pm) $5 fee
Instructor: Adam Grabowski
To RSVP click here .

Billy Collins once called the postcard a physical space that “forces us to sing our songs in tiny rooms.” Given such small space, what kind of songs could we sing? “I Love You,” “Good Riddance,” somewhere in between? Can it be poetry? In this generative poetry workshop, we’ll try it out. We’ll start with a couple prompts to get the juices flowing and then we’ll get down to business. Using Collins’ poem “American Sonnet” as our jump off, we’ll spend some time talking about what postcards usually are and what they can be if we want them to – our main prompts will come from there. There will be time for sharing, revision, and discussion of the poems’ titles. No sonnets will be hurt (or attempted) in the making of this workshop. Open to all skill levels. Materials provided, or bring your own post card.

Perfecting Dialogue: Characters in Life
Sunday, November 12 (1:30 – 3:30pm) $5 fee
Instructor: Seth Harwood
To RSVP click here .

In fiction and nonfiction, dialogue offers the unique chance for characters to shine via their own voices, as if unfiltered on the page. In this workshop, we’ll discuss how people really speak and how, as writers, we can mimic this using diction, syntax, and sentence construction. You’ll learn how to ground dialogue in scene, including how and where to insert physical movement into dialogue sequences, thus keeping characters visual and in scene and avoiding the dreaded “talking heads syndrome.” Finally, we’ll examine three things dialogue does best and talk about how to revise so every line does double –and even triple – duty.