Elements of Writing





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PUTTING ACTION INTO WORDS (LLA 0358): How many times do writers hear, “Show, don’t tell” when their work is critiqued? This workshop focuses on one often-overlooked way to accomplish that. Borrowing from the actor’s perspective, students will explore the connection between what characters do and what they feel, and the words the writer chooses to convey both. The workshop is for fiction writers who are or intend to be published. It uses classroom reading and discussion of written scenes, from published works and the students’ own works, as well as improv and other theatre techniques that apply to fiction writing. By the end of this course, students should know how to clearly and powerfully convey characters’ emotional states through descriptions of physical action. Through scene analysis and improv exercises, students will learn how to make the most of gestures, facial expressions and bits of business to let readers inside their characters’ hearts and heads.

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF WRITING (LLA 0099): You don’t have to be a Hemingway or Stephen King to be a good, fundamental writer. This skill is necessary in every profession. Your instructor will sketch out basic standards that will help you be a better communicator. In addition, you will also learn how to meld “flair” with “just the facts” copy. 

WORD PROCESSING FOR WRITERS (LLA 0107): Microsoft Word is the word processing software of choice for most published authors. But preparing your manuscript for publication involves using many Word features that authors need but most office workers don’t use. Styles, table of contents and index creation, font management and sophisticated layout controls are just a few. You will learn the functions needed to design a book, either from scratch or using templates, and export acceptable files to print-on-demand publishing services. This is an intermediate Word class; you should already be a Word user. This class is a requirement for our Continuing Education Writing Digital Badge.

WRITERS WORKSHOP: HOW TO START AND KEEP GOING (LLA 0250): This workshop focuses on the idea that you have for that book, or that play, or that movie, or short story, or anything! You will learn to foster and take care of that little baby of an idea so you can see the storytelling potential it holds. We will share and hold each other accountable to weekly writing goals. Sharing, not only of your work but also of your process, will be encouraged. This is a room that is a safe space for people who wish to write and create a community with other writers.

WRITING WORKSHOP: CRAFT COMPELLING CHARACTERS (LLA 0121): Developing multi-dimensional characters is a key element of successful writing. One method to help writers hone this skill is to cultivate full character profiles and backstories. This background information is invaluable for shaping the character’s role, ensuring credible actions and motives. Students will explore types of character boards, including Pinterest, to produce visual references to help in this process. Of course, imagination is also critical to writing vibrant prose. This course focuses on both aspects, as students will exercise their creativity by experiencing planned and spontaneous character development. Character dossiers will be written and challenged with improv situations to keep creativity flowing.

WRITING WORKSHOP: DIALOGUE (LLA 0356): Whether written or spoken, effective dialogue springs from a character’s driving need to speak. This workshop brings an actor’s perspective to writing dialogue in fiction. Through the question of “why these words now,” students will learn what works on the page, what doesn’t, and how to craft dialogue that pulls the reader deeper into the story. The workshop is intended for fiction writers who are or intend to be published. It uses classroom discussion of written scenes from novels and short stories in multiple genres, and focuses on techniques students can use to clear clutter and achieve clarity in their own fiction writing. By the end of the course, students should know how to analyze written scenes, develop a fuller understanding of how dialogue works in fiction, and have acquired useful tools for polishing dialogue in their own work.

WRITING WORKSHOP: REVISION (LLA 0251): You’ve finished writing your draft, but are you ready to revise? Whether you plan to submit your piece to an agent, professional editor or publisher, your writing must be in its best possible state. Ernest Hemingway said he rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times before “getting the words right.” In this productive class, we’ll explore revision techniques and tips to get your words right. Through reading examples, exercises and supportive group collaboration and feedback, you’ll take a draft through multiple stages of revision. Please bring a work in progress (fiction or nonfiction) to the first class.

Please note, not all courses are offered every semester.