King’s Writing Workshops

Writing Workshops Cancelled

Due to ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, these workshops have been cancelled. Please check back for information about future workshops.

Kickstart your writing!

Whether you’re working on a novel, a memoir or a more journalistic piece, the King’s Writing Workshops can help you take your skills and your project to the next level. Our new non-credit 8-week workshops are open to everyone, whether you’re still at the idea phase or already have words down on the page!

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Fans, stans and pans: Arts and pop culture writing

Mondays from Mar. 23 to May 11, 6:30-9 p.m.

Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, New Academic Building

So, you want to write about music. Or maybe film, or television, or whatever amalgam of the two a Netflix limited series represents. Perhaps literature is more to your taste; maybe you’re an enthusiast of theatre or the visual arts. Great news: it’s never been easier to engage with, write about, and publish thought-provoking criticism and journalism about arts and popular culture. Not-so-great news: that same reality also means everyone’s a critic, the longtime centre of community arts journalism — the newspaper — is in decline, and good writing often has to rely on the algorithms of retweets and Facebook shares to find an audience.

This is a workshop for anyone eager to push through all that noise and contribute your critical and journalistic talents towards the arts and popular culture. Over the eight weeks, we’ll work together through discussions and in-class exercises to illuminate the tools and techniques of modern arts and culture journalism: interviews, reviews, thought-pieces, and more. Armed with a bit of theory, some practical advice, and the insights and feedback of your peers, you’ll complete three small written pieces and one long-form article — all of which can be tailored towards whichever medium or media you prefer. Whether you’re looking to get started in the field or to boost your portfolio, this workshop will equip you to be more intentioned, more insightful and more impactful in your writing, helping your work speak up and stand out.


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Ryan McNutt is music critic and journalist based in Halifax, who has been contributing artist interviews, critical essays and music reviews to outlets such as The Walrus, Maisonneuve, Exclaim!, AUX (now A-Side), Chartattack, Canadian Notes and Queries, The Coast and others for more than a decade now. A graduate of Dalhousie University’s Master of Musicology program, Ryan served on the Polaris Music Prize grand jury in 2013 and has also served on juries for the Juno Awards, the East Coast Music Awards and the Nova Scotia Music Awards. He was the 2016 recipient of the East Coast Music Award for Media Person of the Year. By day, Ryan is a public relations professional at Dalhousie University, where he leads institutional storytelling as the editor and head writer of Dal News, publishing more than 500 articles on university news and events annually. He also holds a BA from Acadia University and an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations from NSCC.

Aesthetic Incubator: Discover what inspires you

Tuesdays from Mar. 24 to May 12, 6:30-9 p.m.

Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, New Academic Building

As writers, we all sometimes lose our way. What do I want to write? How do I move forward? Why do I even bother? What am I trying to say?

Designed for writers of any genre, the Aesthetic Incubator will tackle a basic question about making art: how can one locate and sustainably tap the resource of one’s own creativity? Students will come away from the class with a manifesto or aesthetic statement and a clear, specific plan of approach for a new or ongoing piece of writing. Whether you’re in the middle of a writing project or looking to jumpstart something new, this workshop will give you the tools you need to get excited and get to work. The purpose of the Aesthetic Incubator isn’t to inspire you—it’s to teach you how to inspire yourself.

To do this, you’ll gather a package of favourites—art, images, music, sounds, clips from TV or film, literature—along with a short piece of your own writing. As a group, we’ll examine these samples with critical empathy, analyzing the structures of the art you love in order to shed light on the art you’ve made. The goal is to use your taste to help you articulate precisely what you want your own writing to do—what effects you want it to have on a reader and on the world.

In the Aesthetic Incubator, you will be making a star map. You’re going to locate your lodestars—the gravitational forces that move you as writers and makers and people—and together, we will take these coordinates scattershot in space and sketch them into a constellation. Because the constellations are mythic and beautiful, but they’re also practical: they’re navigational tools. In this workshop, we’re going to triangulate your current position and your creative destination.


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Suzannah Showler is the author of Most Dramatic Ever (ECW 2018), a book of cultural criticism about reality TV, and the poetry collections Thing is (McClelland & Stewart 2017) and Failure to Thrive (ECW 2014). Her writing has been listed for and occasionally won awards from the National Magazine Awards, the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and elsewhere. She was a 2017-2018 Presidential Fellow at The Ohio State University and is a graduate of their MFA program. She also holds an MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing from the University of Toronto and a BA in English and Contemporary Studies from the University of King’s College. You can read her work in The New York Times MagazineThe WalrusSlateBuzzfeed ReaderHazlittThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and Maisonneuve, among other places.

How Harry Met Sally: A writer’s workshop on the goals, motivations, and conflicts of writing romance

Wednesdays from Mar. 25 to May 13, 6:30-9 p.m.

Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, New Academic Building

In this 8-week workshop, we’ll explore the romance genre and the tools required to bring your story to life. Some of the topics we’ll cover include:

  • Sub-genres of romance
  • Fundamentals of good writing
  • Tropes
  • Point of view—whose story is it?
  • Characterization
  • Emotion
  • Values and beliefs
  • Plot vs. subplot
  • Scene and sequel
  • Beginning, middle, and end—hook the reader and keep them engaged
  • Dialogue
  • Setting the scene
  • Description
  • Worldbuilding
  • The writer’s ego—the art of the critique
  • Writing to your strengths and identifying weaknesses.

Participants should come prepared for in-class writing. Also provided will be a bibliography of how-to books on writing genre fiction.


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Paula Altenburg grew up in rural Nova Scotia knowing that at some point in her life she was likely to be a writer. Swapping Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey books with her father guaranteed she wasn’t going to be the next Jane Austen, much to the dismay of her English teacher mother. She earned her degree in Social Anthropology from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, and with a background in technical publications, she now works in proposal management.

A member of Romance Writers of America and Novelists Inc., Paula has written and co-authored more than twenty books for publishers Tor, Entangled Publishing, and Tule Publishing Group.

Getting Personal: 4 Perspectives on Memoir Writing

Thursdays from March 26 to May 14, 6:30-9 pm

Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, New Academic Building

Writing about our own experiences and lives can be both rewarding and challenging. Where are the boundaries between our stories and the stories that “belong” to those whose lives have touched ours? Can we rely on our memories–and how can we deepen and enrich memory with research and the perspective of others? What makes memoir more than simply journalling? And what practical tips and techniques can we apply to our writing to create meaningful work that engages readers?

Whether you are working on a book-length memoir or shorter essays and columns, this workshop will provide the opportunity to develop your skills in scene-building, dialogue, description and capturing characters on the page, while also engaging in conversations around truth, boundaries and a writer’s responsibilities to themselves and others.


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This workshop will be led by a team of experienced memoir writers: Cooper Lee Bombardier (author of the forthcoming Pass With Care), Pauline Dakin (author of Run, Hide, Repeat), Lorri Neilsen Glenn (author of Following the River: Traces of Red River Women and others) and Kim Pittaway (published in Chatelaine, Reader’s Digest, The Globe and Mail and others).