9:00 – 10:30
Humor Writing How-To
Laughter sheds light on how much more alike we are than different. It illuminates tender subjects, making us more receptive to insight. Simply put, laughter is intimate. It is how the light gets in. That is why humor resonates with readers and deepens our appreciation of a piece of writing like nothing else can. Number one rule? Don’t tell a joke, tell a story. In this substantive, fun, and inspiring workshop, we will learn specific techniques for including humor in our stories, essays, memoirs, and novels. We will explore different types of humor writing and tips for crafting each. Through published examples, videos, exercises, and lively discussion, we will come away armed with a craft toolkit for adding this rare, highly- publishable, and sought-after skill to our work.
LAURA J. OLIVER is a developmental book editor, writing coach, and former instructor at the University of Maryland and St. John’s College. The author of The Story Within (Penguin Random House), named by “Poets and Writers Magazine” as one of the best writing books ever published, her fiction and essays appear in national newspapers, magazines, and top-tier literary reviews. Co-creator of The Writing Intensive at St. John’s College, she has received a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, an Anne Arundel County Arts Council Literary Arts Award, is a Glimmer Train Short Fiction finalist, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
10:45 – 12:15
Ditch the Doldrums: Generating New Work
Embrace the element of surprise to shake off writer’s block and do some new work. In this open-genre workshop, you’ll encounter three different prompts—textual, visual, and aural—to use as a basis for your own new creations. We will discuss each prompt as a group initially, to help get ideas flowing before you start writing. Whether you write poetry or prose, this workshop will provide time and inspiration to help you out of your artistic rut. Come ready to explore, discuss, and write!
TARA CAMPBELL is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse. She received her MFA from American University. Previous publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and CRAFT Literary. She’s the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and four collections: Circe’s Bicycle, Midnight at the Organporium, Political AF: A Rage Collection, and Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. Connect with her at www.taracampbell.com or on Twitter @TaraCampbellCom
1:45 – 3:15
WAIT FOR THE LIGHT:
Resisting Resolution, Easy Reach and Wrapping It Up in our Writing
So often in our writing—be it poems/prose poems, short stories, essays, novels, and flash fiction—we, for what ever reasons, often conclude, or wrap up too soon with an unearned resolution rather than wait for a strong and original finish, or revelation. Often, the urgency to resolve comes from a place of “not knowing” and, too often we conclude with a “lesson” or commentary, or, worse, a vague ambiguous, amorphous, and forgettable generalization. Research has revealed that what makes the most indelible impression in a reader’s mind is the last one. As a writer, you want to be sure your last words make in indelible impression. In this workshop, we’ll look at writing with stellar endings, and how and why they are successful. We’ll look at your work, and where and HOW to wait for the best last words.
A 2012 Pushcart Prize recipient, NANCY MITCHELL is the author of The Near Surround, Grief Hut, and The Out-of-Body Shop and co-Editor of Plume Interviews I. Her poems have or will appear in such journals as Agni, Green Mountains Review, Ploughshares, Thrush, Washington Square Review, and others. Mitchell serves as the Associate Editor of Special Features for Plume Poetry, and is the Poet Laureate of Salisbury, Maryland. She hosts the Poets on the Plaza Reading Series live and on Zoom.
3:30 – 5:00
Illuminating Conversations: Interviews, Oral Histories, and Firsthand Accounts for Better Fiction and Nonfiction
Better listeners make better storytellers. For fiction and nonfiction writers alike, this session spotlights both the challenges and benefits of developing and strengthening one’s skills as an interviewer. A powerful but often overlooked tool in the writer’s kit, interviewing as part of the creative process offers a broad range of literary applications and adds the luster of insight and authenticity to every project. From inspiration to resource research to creating credible characters, settings, and dialogue, the interview provides the writer a real-life opportunity to get their story straight. Through examples of technique, the instructor’s personal experience as an oral historian and writer, group exercises, helpful handouts, and constructive conversation with practical tips, attendees will learn how to ignite their natural curiosity and desire to communicate with the art of the interview and then use those skills to explore the rewards of being able to proficiently articulate the voice of others.
BRENT LEWIS is a native Eastern Shoreman with deep Eastern Shore roots. He’s written for magazines, newspapers, and newsletters, and for 10 years oversaw the Kent Island Heritage Society’s Oral History Program. Before the release of 2021’s Stardust by the Bushel: Hollywood on the Eastern Shore, Brent published two nonfiction books, Remembering Kent Island: Stories from the Chesapeake and A History of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, and one indie novel, Bloody Point 1976. A documentarian and a playwright, Brent’s blog, easternshorebrent.com is a popular destination for readers interested in Chesapeake Bay storytelling, history, and memoir.