Carmen Aguirre and her 2017 memoir workshop group

Four-Day Morning Workshops

– June 7th through 10th

Fiction with Eliza Robertson

Unlocking Your Myths: What are your myths? The stories passed down to you, and the stories you pass on. (Are they the same stories?) How can myths—inherited from your ancestors or the wider “cistern” of storytelling—feed your fiction? Over four mornings, we will identify what stories and archetypes resonate with us and how to integrate them into our writing. We will draw from texts by writers like Joseph Campbell, Martin Shaw, and Anne Carson, as well as examples from contemporary fiction. Most importantly, we will write— using creative translation and adaptation exercises to weave old tales into new writing. I invite you to bring family photographs, stories your grandmother told you, dream journals, and anything else that may help you tap into your hidden stories.

Nonfiction with Tyee Bridge

That Rough Beast -- Personal Nonfiction with Soul: On a visit to Tuscany in the thirties, DH Lawrence was enthralled by a painting of a chimera— the beast that combines lion, goat and snake—in an underground tomb: “The bloodstream is one, and unbroken, yet storming with oppositions and contradictions.” Great personal nonfiction is a lot like that, merging unexpected elements into something memorable. It can include your experiences, imaginings, and off-the-cuff insights, along with facts, descriptive scenes, dialogue, and more. But how do you pull it all together? In four interactive sessions we’ll kick start your creative process and you’ll do some writing every day as we explore braided structures, intimacy, humour and the elusive quality of “voice.” I’ll talk about rhythm and language and some of their respective wellsprings and bylaws. Bring a piece you’re already working on, a niggling idea, or start completely from scratch. 

Screenwriting for TV with Jennica Harper

In the Writers' Room: We’ve entered a new golden age of television. From Atlanta to Big Little Lies, from The Handmaid’s Tale to The Good Place, TV has never been better, and there’s truly a show for every taste in the multi-channel universe. But what makes a story right for television? In this four-morning workshop, we’ll explore the building blocks of a great TV series, from a unique world, to characters in conflict, to a story engine that promises multiple seasons’ worth of great episodes. We'll then walk through how TV series are pitched and written, from pitch to Series Bible to Pilot Script. The workshop will culminate in the group acting as a writing staff, or "Writers’ Room," pitching series ideas and collaboratively breaking the pilot episode of one show.

Afternoon Workshops:

Humour for Radio, Podcasts & Beyond with Pat Kelly

Thursday, June 7th

Finding the Funny: Comedy is not about being interesting; it’s about finding the funny in an average premise. After revisiting the ‘average’ origins of some of the most successful stories from my CBC radio show This is That and why they work so well, we’ll look at how ‘being average’ can not only lead to creating great premises, but hilarious characters as well. We’ll brainstorm a list of very trivial prompts, then break into teams and use these suggestions to develop comedic premises that will be pitched to the group. From the top selections we will dig even deeper to expand on the comedic potential of our chosen ideas, as well as look at the difference between delivering the idea on page versus as a podcast or radio program.

Dramatizing Your Big Ideas with Marcus Youssef

Friday, June 8th

Art & Politics – Not Always Strange Bedfellows: Agenda-driven, “political” writing and performance can feel didactic, inhuman, and simplistic, like the worst kind of Facebook post. But there are ways to make big ideas entertaining and resonant. I will ask each participant to identify a specific issue, or political or moral position that is important to them. We will investigate a variety of ways to dramatize that issue to make it engaging and accessible to a broad spectrum of audiences who may or may not share that particular obsession (though of course they should!). From finding the human story that underpins your interest in the issue, to considering humour’s potential to unlock contradictions and humanity, to empowering your own critical voice to help make your work as complex as it can be, this workshop considers strategies to use when you want to write material that responds directly to what you see occurring in the world.

Performance for Writers with Leanne Dunic

Friday, June 8th

From Page to Stage: Reading in front of a crowd isn’t something we’re all born to do. I’m a writer, not a performer! But sharing your work aloud can be a rewarding experience for a multitude of reasons, and is a gift from you to your audience. We’ll look at how various techniques help make the most of reading opportunities and how to be present in the performance, taking into account personal styles and goals. Please bring a self-authored three-minute long piece which we’ll workshop to discover each others’ performing strengths.

The Poetry of Song with Leanne Dunic

Saturday, June 9th

Dismantling the Eggman: Is it possible to access our subconscious to create lyrics that speak to deeper truths (without drug use)? We’ll experiment with media and words to write a song with surrealistic lyrics, the ultimate outcome of which will show the benefits of freeing oneself from expectations. While listening to music from outside the box, we’ll play with images to open our creativity and to develop characters. Finding inspiration in songs like The Beatles’ classic I am the Walrus we’ll look to our surroundings to find music and lyrical possibilities. No experience necessary!