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King’s Online Writing Workshops

King’s Online Writing Workshops

Make your writing dreams a reality!

SPECIAL PRICING: Members of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and King’s students, faculty, staff and alumni get $50 off the price of each workshop.

Whether you’re working on a novel, a memoir, or nonfiction, this spring’s King’s Online Writing Workshops can help you take your skills and project to the next level. Our non-credit workshops include eight 2.5-hour sessions and are open to everyone, whether you’re still at the idea phase or already have words down on the page.

Courses in fall 2021 will run online using the Zoom platform.

Space is limited, so sign up early to avoid disappointment!

Course fee is $449 + HST. Registration will be available soon.

Members of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and University of King’s College students, staff, faculty and alumni pay $399!

Particles to Porpoises: Writing Science and Nature in a Changing World

Monday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 4-Nov. 29 (no class Oct. 11) on Zoom

Capturing the natural and physical world through language is a timeless, timely practice that can help us, as writers, understand and explain ourselves and our place in it. This workshop is designed to unlock each participant’s personal relationship within this exciting field, helping to explore, through one keystone piece of writing, the concepts, conflicts and future of ourselves and our species on this planet. This course spans today’s most pressing topics, including the decolonization of science, how biography shapes the pursuit of knowledge and climate change, as well as the culture and role of storytelling in science. Participants from journalism, science communication and creative non-fiction are encouraged to apply.

Karen Pinchin, holding a shrimp.Karen Pinchin is a Dartmouth-based investigative journalist specializing in interdisciplinary reporting and editing on food systems, business and culture. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, she is currently writing her first book for Knopf Canada.

Stage, sound and screens: Arts and pop culture writing workshop

Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 6-Nov. 24 on Zoom

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.

This is a workshop for anyone eager to contribute your critical and journalistic talents towards arts and culture writing. 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 in the social media age.

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 helps lead institutional storytelling and has served as 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.

Finessing Your Language

Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 6 – Nov. 24 on Zoom

We all want to improve our language, whether it’s grammatical, like choosing the correct preposition; stylistic, like avoiding cliches; or larger-scale, such as disentangling our phrasing from racial or gendered stereotyping. This course will look at language from a variety of angles, helping you better understand grammar, the building blocks of beautiful sentences, our bad writing habits, and the ways systemic oppression has framed our language in often unconscious ways.

Each class will focus on a particular set of common stylistic problems, using short excerpts, writing exercises, and discussion to discover new ways of shaping our language. Occasionally you’ll receive short readings to prepare in advance of class. You’ll be encouraged to share the writing work we do in class with your peers and the instructor for constructive feedback.

Gillian TurnbullGillian Turnbull is a writer, editor, and professor. She is a mentor with the University of King’s College MFA program in Creative Nonfiction and has worked as a substantive and copy editor for several publications, including serving as Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Folk Music magazine from 2011-2017. She holds a Certificate in Publishing with a focus on editing, an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, and a PhD in Ethnomusicology. She is the author of Sonic Booms: Making Music in an Oil Town, hosts the Further Reading writing craft podcast, and has contributed to The WalrusThe National PostAtlantic Books Today, and The Puritan. Gillian also co-founded the writing collective Penizen, whose anthology Bad Artist is due out in 2022.

The Emerging Writer’s Toolkit

Tuesday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 5-Nov. 23 on Zoom

You’ve always wanted to write, but now that you’re finally ready to begin, you find yourself overwhelmed and unsure about the process. Will anyone read my book? What is a hybrid publisher? Do I really need to spend money on Grammarly Premium? Dozens of conflicting answers to your questions in Facebook Groups have only left you more confused, and you’re finding yourself spending more time on Google than on what you really love: writing.

New writers of any age will find the support, community, and answers they need in The Emerging Writer’s Toolkit. This course will cover the most common mistakes and misimpressions that trap emerging writers, so you can be free create with all your questions answered. Through group discussion, short exercises, and in-class feedback, you’ll develop the roadmap you need to finally write and submit your work with confidence and clarity.

Nellwyn Lampert is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her memoir, Every Boy I Ever Kissed, was published by Dundurn Press in 2019. Nellwyn has worked for a variety of publications, including MUSICultures, She Does the City, The Huffington Post, and The Puritan Literary Magazine, and has taught creative writing workshops for organizations such as Authors Publish, Memoir Mentors, and The St. Louis Publisher’s Association. Nellwyn is currently working on the anthology Bad Artist with Penizen Press and a second memoir. Nellwyn holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of King’s College.

Writing About Hard Things

Tuesday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 5-Nov. 23 on Zoom

Good creative nonfiction doesn’t shy away from hard topics, yet with that responsibility comes a lot of challenges for the writer. From legal issues to relationships, emotional cost and self-care, how do writers sit in the trenches of difficult work while being true to story and honesty?

This course will examine how we write about hard topics, from traumas to conflicts, all while protecting and balancing the author’s wellbeing, relationships, and artform. Students will workshop their own pieces in class while learning about how to use the writer’s tools for effective storytelling, even when those stories are difficult to share. This class will be a supportive, caring environment in which to explore and create without judgement.

Kelly ThompsonKelly S. Thompson is a retired military officer who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and is a PhD candidate at the University of Gloucestershire, specializing in Nonfiction. Kelly won the House of Anansi Press Golden Anniversary Award, the 2014 and 2017 Barbara Novak Award for Personal Essay, and was shortlisted for Room magazine’s 2013 and 2014 creative nonfiction awards, placing 2nd in the 2019 competition. Her essays have appeared in several anthologies and in publications such as ChatelaineMaclean’s, Maisonneuve, and more. Her memoir, Girls Need Not Apply, was an instant Globe and Mail bestseller and listed in the Globe and Mail’s The Globe 100: Books that Shaped 2019. Her next memoir releases with McClelland & Stewart in 2022.

Intro to Memoir Writing

Thursday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 7-Nov. 25 on Zoom

Intro to Memoir Writing is a creative writing workshop for writers of all levels who wish to learn the power of memoir to harness personal experience into works of literary art. Folks without any formal writing experience are welcome, too! We will home in on a singular, pivotal moment in your life, and employ it as a focal point for a memoir. This workshop will teach you to use form, structure, theme, shape, metaphor and other elements of writing. You’ll learn how to touch the universal by getting microscopic with the specific. We’ll look at excerpts from contemporary and classic memoir to learn about voice, subjectivity, point of view, and temporality. You’ll develop a polished chapter during this eight-week workshop. Your pages will be workshopped in depth in class.

We will engage in energetic, supportive, vigorous, and compassionate discussion with fellow students on topics such as writing issues, craft points, publishing, and cultivating a writing practice. We’ll discuss the ethical and personal considerations of using material from one’s own life and how to delve past our own limitations while expanding our comfort zones. The group will meet twice weekly via live video classes with in-class generative exercises, craft lectures, and group workshops.

We will meet synchronously via Zoom.

  • We’ll do generative writing exercises in class, with a short break.
  • There will be light “homework,” and an expectation that you will write workshop pages.
  • You must email your drafts to the entire group one week before your scheduled workshop.
  • You are expected to provide detailed commentary to fellow workshop members regarding their pages and email them back to the author. Don’t worry: I will offer guidance!
  • I will email you short readings to support classroom learnings!

Cooper Lee BombardierCooper Lee Bombardier is a queer, trans American writer and visual artist living in Canada. He is the author of the memoir-in-essays Pass With Care, a finalist for the 2021 Firecracker Award in Nonfiction. His writing appears in The Kenyon Review, The Malahat Review, Ninth Letter, CutBankNailed MagazineLongreadsNarratively, BOMB, and The Rumpus; and in 17 anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, The RemedyEssays on Queer Health Issues, and the Lambda-finalist anthology, Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Speculative Fiction From Transgender Writers, which won a 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at University of King’s College and in women and gender studies at Saint Mary’s University. www.cooperleebombardier.com

Fundamentals of Fiction

Thursday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 7-Nov. 25 on Zoom

How do you create compelling characters? How can you use sensory details to create more powerful scenes? How does conflict fuel your story? Whether you’re working on short stories or a novel, this 8-week workshop with award-winning author and editor Chris Benjamin will equip you with the insights and tools to sharpen your storytelling. The workshops will be packed with examples and exercises, with time for discussion and feedback. Topics will include:

  • Writing Figuratively and Sensually: Sensory and figurative language can create powerful imagery, helping the reader to immerse themselves in the world you are creating on the page. Exercises will help you tap all five of your senses and use effective comparisons and sensory phrases to indicate deeper meaning in the story you are telling.
  • Desires, Obstacles and Incidents: Kurt Vonnegut once said that “every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water… No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
  • Character Development: Dive deep into creating your characters. How well do you know them? We’ll embark on exercises designed to help you get inside their lives—and their heads.
  • Story Structure: What is the narrative arc of your story? Where will you begin—and end?
  • Short Stories: They’re not just short(er)! We’ll use a series of exercises to explore plotting and executing the short story.
  • Novels: What tips and techniques can we use to bring order to novel-length works of fiction? How do you move forward when you’ve run out of steam? How do you know when to stop?
  • Incorporating Ideas/Theme: “A novel’s whole pattern is rarely apparent at the outset of writing, or even at the end; that is when the writer finds out what a novel is about, and the job becomes one of understanding and deepening or sharpening what is already written,” advises American novelist Diane Johnson. We’ll explore how you can deepen your writing by understanding what it is you’re really writing about.
  • The Essence of Editing: Strengthen your work by editing your work, with exercises and strategies for spotting weaknesses in your work and bringing polish to your page.

Photo: Niki Davison

Chris Benjamin writes fiction and nonfiction. He is the managing editor of Atlantic Books Today (atlanticbookstoday.ca), a triannual magazine about Atlantic Canadian books, authors and publishers. He is also the Writer in Residence for the South Shore Public Libraries (southshorepubliclibraries.ca) based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and supported by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, where he is working on a new collection of short stories and a novel.

His work has been published in journals, magazines and anthologies (The Fiddlehead, The Puritan, The Antigonish Review, Descant, The Dalhousie Review, The Nashwaak Review, Galleon, Roseway, Voiceprint Canada, The Society). Chris’ first novel, Drive-by Saviours, won the H.R. Percy Prize, was longlisted for a ReLit Prize and made the Canada Reads Top Essential Books List.

His latest nonfiction book was Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School, which was named a Nova Scotia Book of Influence by the province’s librarians and publishers. It won the Dave Greber Freelance Book Prize. His previous book, Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada, won the Best Atlantic-Published Book Award and was a finalist for the Richardson Non-Fiction Prize.

Chris lives in Halifax with his partner and two children.

Character and Setting in Fiction

Monday evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), Oct. 4-Nov. 29 (no class Oct. 11) on Zoom

No matter if this is your first book or your fortieth, whether it’s ten thousand words or a hundred thousand, writing fiction is hard.

This eight-week workshop will help bring your fictional characters and story worlds to life through established storytelling techniques used for commercial fiction. The first half of the workshop will focus on character development, dialogue, point of view, and the different ways to add description to your story without overwhelming the reader with too much detail. The second half will cover setting, setting research, and worldbuilding.

Each session will include an optional exercise that can be completed on your own time. While instructor feedback will primarily be provided in class so that everyone can benefit, it’s understood that not everyone is comfortable with sharing their work.

USA Today bestselling author Paula Altenburg grew up in rural Nova Scotia knowing that at some point in her life she was likely to be a fiction 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. A degree in Social Anthropology from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, confirmed that writing was the most logical career path for her. As well as writing commercial fiction, she’s worked in Aerospace and Defense as a production manager for technical publications, holds certification in proposal management, and has written for international trade publications.