At Barnes & Noble where I often speak prior to signing books
For the past four or five years I’ve held a semi-annual workshop at Ozark Folkways near Winslow, Arkansas. This non-profit organization provides rooms for all sorts of workshops from basket making, rug weaving and pottery to my writing class. I mostly teach the basic craft of writing, but often I concentrate on writing life stories, memoirs and biographies.

There are plenty of teachers out there who can help writers with the craft. However, I’ve always firmly believed that no one can teach the creative ability that is necessary to make a writer. All we can do is step in when that ability hatches and begins to drive the new writer wild with passion. Yet they aren’t sure how to hone this ability and learn the ins and outs of what makes good stories.
Ideas are one thing. Putting together a salable story is quite another. For several years I wrote without knowing what it took to put together a book. I had the pages, the characters, the story, but it wandered, wasn’t cohesive. I had no idea about editing and polishing. My words sang but they were often out of tune. Clearly I needed help.
The first workshop I attended was conducted by award winning short story author Pat Carr. She lives not too far from me as the eagle flies, but I’d never met her until I attended an Ozark Writers League meeting and sat in on her workshop on writing short stories. Pat has a unique style for digging our stories out of our minds and placing them on paper. I was blown away by the stories I came away with, just from participating in the workshop. Not only did Pat inspire me, the others who attended did too.
So I guess my message here is, when a bunch of writers get together what happens is like magic. The ideas fly, brainstorming guides everyone down new paths. The information gained from such an experience is far more valuable than the cost. And that’s another good point about enrolling in workshops. They usually aren’t as expensive as conferences. A teacher can afford to charge a minimal price and count on attracting twenty or thirty participants.
I limit my workshops to 20 because I like to do a lot of one on one, brainstorming by each and every one, and working with each writer’s story. And I don’t have to travel far to Ozark Folkways. Everyone goes away with characters, plot and a firm idea of where to go to finish what they’ve started. Many of my students return over and over because they say they always learn a lot of new things, no matter how many times they attend. I never do the same workshop twice. Each one has new ideas, different approaches and information because there’s so much to learn.
Speaking at conferences is wonderful, and I enjoy it, but it’s usually limited to an hour or 90 minutes at most and I’m just getting started good in that length of time. I narrow down what I’m going to teach to one subject, such as creating exciting characters, finding your voice, point of view, keeping description within the action, etc. And there is great value to these short workshops at conferences. I have learned a lot in them, and hope those who attend mine also learn a lot. But I feel an all-day concentrated workshop is of the greatest value to the novice writer.
If you can’t find a writer’s workshop, why not contact a writer whose work you admire and ask if they’d be willing to give an all-day workshop if you’d help promote it to other writers in the area. You’d be surprised how many would-be writers will crop up.

About veldabrotherton

For thirty years I've been a writer. Publication of my work began in 1994 . I'm pleased to have recently settled with Oghma Creative Media as my publisher. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. I recently signed a contract to write westerns again, and what fun it's been working on the first one. If I weren't writing my life wouldn't be so exciting.
This entry was posted in conferences, Ozark Folkways, Ozark Writers League, Pat Carr, Uncategorized, Velda Brotherton, workshops, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to WORKSHOPS

  1. "All we can do is step in when that ability hatches and begins to drive the new writer wild with passion."What lovely words! Quotes like that alone are enough to make me come back to read more. That and the wonderful, thoughtful, helpful information you provide.I think it's important to remember that creativity and craft cannot necessarily be taught, but it can be nourished and developed, and workshops are a great way to do that. I have been thinking a lot about workshops and writer's groups lately — mainly in that I need to get involved in this way ASAP when I am stateside again. This has been a nice reminder and encouragement.

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