King’s Writing 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!

We’re offering workshops in three streams: nonfiction, fiction and journalism. Courses in Fall 2019 will run from the week of October 15 (right after Thanksgiving) through the week of December 10.

Space is limited, so sign up early to avoid disappointment! The fee per workshop is $499 + HST.

From the Heart: A Queer+ Nonfiction Writing Workshop

Tuesdays from Oct. 15 to Dec. 10, 6:30 – 9 p.m.
No class on Nov. 12.

Seminar Room, 3rd Floor, New Academic Building

The poet Stanley Kunitz wrote “the empty ones are those who do not suffer their selfhood.”

For those of us of trans, queer, two-spirit, or LGBTQ experience, we know what it is like to have our stories marginalized, fetishized, or ignored; or else lumped together by dominant culture in totalizing ways which fail to account for the unique and singular experiences that compose our lives and purviews. In this creative writing workshop, we will focus on digging down into the depths, finding the stories, images, moments, tones, metaphors, and words that give shape to what we know and have lived through. Prepare to cramp up your writing hand, because we will generate a lot of ideas here. We’ll tease out a moment of personal significance and unfold it into a short piece for workshop that may serve as a springboard for development into a longer work of creative nonfiction.

Geared toward writers of all levels from the LGBTQI2S communities (and allies) who want to explore ways of rendering marginalized experiences into razor-sharp creative writing, this eight-week creative writing workshop will provide you with ample opportunity to generate new writing wrung from the hard-won knowledges of your own life. You will dig down through the basalt into the heart of your unique life experiences, uncover the unsayable, journey toward your personal hinterlands, tickle the uncomfortable edges, and render this raw treasure into a short work of creative nonfiction. We will examine ways to uncover the “so what” of our own stories, as well as ways to avoid clichéd language and representation. We’ll explore ways of rendering our own philosophical and ethical truths while avoiding the didactic. We’ll consider audience and its effects on our writing. You will engage in energetic, supportive, vigorous, and compassionate discussion with fellow students on topics such as writing issues, craft points, and cultivating a writing practice. We’ll discuss the ethical and personal considerations of using material from one’s own life, talk about writing from marginalized experiences that are not our own, and how to delve past our own limitations while expanding our comfort zones.


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Cooper Lee BombardierCooper Lee Bombardier is a writer and visual artist based in Halifax. He holds an MS in Writing/Book Publishing (Portland State University), an MFA Creative Writing/Nonfiction (Portland State University), and a BFA Illustration (Massachusetts College of Art). His writing appears in many publications and in 12 anthologies, such as The Malahat Review, The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, Longreads, BOMB, and The Rumpus; and recently in the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, The Remedy–Essays on Queer Health Issues, and the Lambda-nominated anthology, Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Speculative Fiction From Transgender Writers, which won the 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Barbara Gittings Literature Award. His recent essay “Half as Sensitive” was nominated by The Malahat Review for a 2019 Canadian National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism. The Huffington Post listed Cooper as one of “10 Transgender Artists Who Are Changing the Landscape of Contemporary Art.” He has received fellowships from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Lambda Literary Foundation, and RADAR Labs. Cooper Lee has taught at the University of Portland, Clark College, Portland State University, Saint Mary’s University, NSCAD, and as a visiting writer at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Critical Studies graduate program, and at various high schools as a writer-in-residence through Writers in The Schools. His memoir-in-essays Pass With Care, is forthcoming from Dottir Press in Spring 2020.

Fundamentals of Fiction

Wednesdays from Oct. 16 to Dec. 11, 6:30 – 9 p.m.
No class on Nov. 13.

Seminar Room, 3rd Floor, New Academic Building

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.


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Photo: Niki Davison

Chris Benjamin writes fiction and nonfiction. He is the managing editor of Atlantic Books Today (, a triannual magazine about Atlantic Canadian books, authors and publishers. He is also the Writer in Residence for the South Shore Public Libraries ( 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.

Journalism and Advocacy

Wednesdays from Oct. 16 to Nov. 27, 6:30 – 9 p.m.
with a final class on Saturday, Nov. 30 from 1 – 3:30 p.m.

Haliburton Room, 1st Floor, Arts & Administration Building

In 2017, Desmond Cole, a Black columnist with the Toronto Star, resigned from his job after his editor at the paper told him he had to choose between being a journalist and being an activist. The editor argued the job of a journalist is to cover the news, not to make the news.

This course explores the intersection of journalism and advocacy/activism. What is activist journalism? How can journalists write for social justice? How does thinking about journalism as activism challenge traditional ideas of what the role of a journalist is, what is objective, or what is news? How do new platforms and forms of media encourage us to explore different perspectives and voices and think about power and media?

In this workshop series, we will think through the ethics of journalism and advocacy, and how journalists can work with communities. We will also explore “non traditional” forms of journalism and storytelling. Participants will work on a project throughout the workshop covering an issue of their choice.


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El Jones is a spoken word poet, an educator, journalist and a community activist living in African Nova Scotia. She was the fifth Poet Laureate of Halifax. In 2016, El was a recipient of the Burnley “Rocky” Jones human rights award for her community work and work in prison justice. She is a co-founder of the Black Power Hour, a live radio show with incarcerated people on CKDU that creates space for people inside to share their creative work and discuss contemporary social and political issues, and along with this work, she supports women in Nova Institution in writing and sharing their voices. El served as the 15th Nancy’s Chair of Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University for the 2017-2019 term. Her book of spoken word poetry, Live from the Afrikan Resistance! was published by Roseway Press in 2014. El writes a weekly column for the Halifax Examiner, and was an Atlantic Journalism Award winner in 2018. El would like to pay tribute to the many nameless and unrecognized women whose work makes it possible for her to be here today.