Saturday, June 3

Home/Saturday, June 3

8:00 – 9:00am: Breakfast

9:00am: All Student Orientation in Salon 4

Required for ALL students

10:30am – 12:00pm

Faculty Lecture: David Ulin (NF)

Room: Salon 4

The Art of Literary Criticism. The ability to critically review artistic work isn’t always such a natural experience when you also creative artistic work. In this lecture, David Ulin will discuss strategies for writing strong literary criticism.

10:30am – 12:00pm

Faculty Lecture: William Rabkin (S)

Go Westworld, Young Writer: Building the Perfect “Puzzle Box” Series. Even in this new golden age of television drama, there is always one series that sets the bar for everyone else. Today, Westworld is the one that every writer is trying to duplicate – especially its new, bold, complex storytelling paradigm. The “puzzle box” show – a story that appears to be one thing until you reach the key that unlocks the mystery, and then it turns out to be something entirely different – works on multiple levels simultaneously, telling both the surface story and the real story so skillfully the audience is never aware of what they’re really seeing until the storyteller chooses to reveal it. With this puzzle box paradigm spreading to streaming shows like Netflix’s The OA and even network sitcoms like The Good Place, many writers will be eager to try it for themselves. But there are real risks to attempting a puzzle box pilot – and a failed one will look more like a collection of tricks than a coherent and complex dual story. This lecture will explore the history and structure of puzzleboxes to determine what makes one of these shows work, what elements are necessary for success, and how to avoid the traps this paradigm offers.

Room: Salon 6

10:30am – 12:00pm

Reading as a Writer: A Close Read of Denis Johnson’s “Dundun.” We hear that we should “read like a writer” often, but what exactly does it mean? Through this close read of Denis Johnson’s short story “Dundun,” we’ll go through line by line and see how every choice made in the piece adds to the effect of the narrative as a whole. We’ll look at language, introduction and pacing of information, character(s) (minor and major), scenes, action, POV, dialog, and the creation and intensity of the conflict, risk, tension, and unease that permeates the narrative. And we’ll look at how to take the techniques Johnson uses and apply them to our own work. Read the story prior to the lecture, and please bring a printed copy (or one on your device) so that you can mark up the text. Link to the story here:

Room: Salon 3

12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch

1:15pm – 4:15pm: Main Genre Workshops

Classes will be held in the Las Flores Conference Center

Salons 1, 2 and 8 are located in the main conference and meeting area


Crane/Goldberg: Begonia

Jones: Jasmine

Otis: Gardenia

Smith: Primrose

Waters: Iris


Stillman/Ulin: Larkspur


Essbaum: Lantana


Malkin: Hibiscus

Rabkin/Schimmel: Plumeria


Graduate Lecture: Lia Langworthy (S)

Room: Salon 4

THE UGLY TRUTH — More Slavery and Holocaust films, please! In today’s world of political and social upheaval, in which racism remains a firm reality, films about slavery and holocaust are relevant today more than ever. However, few projects on either topic are being made. Beyond the typical excuses that both topics are too vast, too depressing or too sacred lays another barrier – basic screenwriting tenets. The single and exceptional protagonist, the good vs. evil dichotomy and the propensity for a white savior/hero strip these stories of honesty and turns powerful stories into fables. The most successful, lauded American Slavery/Holocaust films (12 Years A Slave and Shindler’s List) will be explored as examples of working within the confines of such screenwriting tenets and the TV show Underground will be examined as an example of what we need more of — entertainment that pushes beyond traditional screenwriting limitations.


Graduate Lecture: Nicole Loomis (F)

Room: Salon 4

Imaginary Homelands —  What is the writer’s responsibility to the ‘truth’ of an historical event? Can historical accuracy—whether collective, familial, personal—be replaced with imaginative accuracy? Is it ethical to “steal” from your family history? To reveal family secrets for the sake of a better story? When are autobiographical works better served as fiction? And does non-fiction play by the same rules? We’ll debate these questions and examine writers who traverse with prowess the ever-shifting boundaries between fiction and non-fiction.


Evening Program:

JoAnn Chaney in conversation with Mark Haskell Smith (F)

Room: Salon 6