Thursday, June 8

Home/Thursday, June 8


8:00am: Breakfast


9:00am – 10:30am

Guest Faculty Lecture: Sherri L. Smith (F)

Building the Mystery: Layering Myth into your Worldbuilding

Without a past, world building can be little more than window dressing, thin soil on which to base a story.  But add some history and, as equally as important, the attendant mythology, and you’ll discover new depth to your reality and a stronger foundation on which to build.  In this lecture we’ll discuss how to create and incorporate myth and a deep past into your worldbuilding. We’ll examine techniques used by Tanith Lee, Frank Herbert, China Mieville, Lloyd Alexander and others.

Room: Salon 4

 9:00am – 10:30am

Faculty Lecture: Jill Alexander Essbaum (Poetry)

Dire-maker: Writing Poetry Of and Through Crises: The most difficult circumstances to write about are often the most dire. Your character is in crisis. Your character is in grief or despair. He is angry. She is terrorized. And now you, the writer, are frightened too. You’re navigating setting. You’re dealing with a plot that careens toward a terrible inevitability. And your character is doing one thing when they were supposed to be doing another. How do we handle this kind of writing? Like trying to steer a runaway stagecoach, it demands an enormous amount of planning, control, and finesse—in other words, it demands this seminar. During this course, we’ll discover techniques to employ and pitfalls to avoid so that your writing will deliver your reader through and to any extremity with full engagement and a can’t-tear-themselves-away attention to the poem you tell. We’ll look at some passages, do some writing, and share our strategies for elevating poetry to its highest emotional state—all while keeping our own emotions under control.

Room: Salon 6

10:30am – 12:00pm

Graduate Lecture: Corrie Dibble (F)

Room: Salon 4

How To Write The Hard Stuff. What are the hard subjects to write about? The obvious—pedophilia, incest, kidnapping, sexual abuse, prostitution, along with sex related fetishes and/or lifestyle. So, all right—sex. But, it’s not just sex, it’s any challenging subject. These acts will not be discussed at the dinner table. They will, however, be described at length in literature. Illuminating emotion in a true way earns a reader’s trust and makes them available to read about an experience outside their normal boundaries. This lecture will cover taboos in literature—sexual and others—by exploring the linguistic tactics of the authors Jack Ketchum, A. M.Homes, and Mary Gaitskill and we’ll study how they present their taboo material while capturing reader’s emotions.

11:15am – 11:45am

Graduate Lecture: John Flynn-York (F)

Room: Salon 4

A Screaming Comes across the Sky: Crafting a Powerful Opening

We have expectations about books before we ever crack the spine. We’ve read reviews, we’ve seen the cover art, we know a little—or a lot—about the author. But the rubber meets the road when we read the first lines. That’s when the author has to hook us, has to convey that it matters that we keep reading this book. This lecture will examine that critical moment through close readings of the opening paragraphs of three novels: Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau, Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment, and Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. What tools do these authors use to set up their characters, themes, and authorial voice? How do these openings get the reader invested? And how can the opening of a novel reflect the book as a whole? Grammar and syntax nerdery, a discussion about authorial intent, and a brief foray into the famous opening of Gravity’s Rainbow are all likely.


12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch


1:00pm – 2:30pm

Guest Faculty Lecture: Edan Lepucki (F)

Making A Scene: How to Make A Moment Come Alive. What is a scene and what makes one successful? In this seminar, Edan Lepucki will answer these questions and more by analyzing various methods of dramatization in fiction. Together we will explore scenes in contemporary fiction and complete a few writing exercises to get you thinking deeply about what a scene can do for your plot and characters. Suspense, the treatment of time in fiction, and exposition will also be discussed.

Room: Salon 6

1:00pm – 2:30 pm

Faculty Lecture: Emily Rapp Black (NF)

Short and Sweet (Or Short and Sad. Or Short and Dramatic. Or Just Short.) In this talk, we’ll look at the short personal essay – ~1500 words or less – and how to wrangle your life experience into a small, concise package, without losing any of the power.

Room: Salon 4



Guest Faculty Lecture: Kit-Bacon Gressitt & Sara Marchant (ALL)

The Personal is Political—and So Is Your Writing. A participatory discussion of the personal, the political and the writer, perhaps in some other order. Regardless, we hold this truth to be self-evident: It’s near to impossible to take the political out of the creative. Join us—and prove us wrong if you’re able. In response to the 2016 Presidential Election Sara, K-B and poetry editor Rae Rose created our very own self-help program: Writers Resist has an pro-active dedication to publishing diverse and often unheard writers, an effort that has pushed the publication into an international readership. We encourage those planning to attend this session to email us short examples of writing (very short—no more than 200 words) they believe will challenge or support our belief that the personal is political—and so is your writing. Email to: and

Room: Salon 6


Faculty Lecture: John Schimmel (S)

Life, Music, Movies, Videogames, Social Justice, and Everything After. In this wide-ranging talk, we’ll talk about how you can leverage your passions to make great films…or great video games…or a great life in the arts.

Room: Salon 6



Graduate Lecture: Eli Ryder (F)

Curing A Case of the Purples. Arguably, writing is an exercise of perfect choices: exactly the right word in exactly the right spot, over and again, until THE END appears on the page. How do we know what the perfect choices look like? Is there ultimately only one word, one perfect phrase that fits each moment of prose? Maybe, maybe not. What we do know is that there are choices that seem totally wrong. Overly decorated, extensively modified, accidentally comical—these are all symptoms of much-dreaded Purple Prose. Worry not, for there is a cure. In this lecture, we’ll examine a few “best-practice” guidelines against building purple prose and explore what happens when writers work both within and without those guidelines. Ultimately, we’ll uncover a set of tools that will ensure that we always work to unpurple the purple.

Room: Salon 4


 Graduate Lecture: Theresa Corigliano (F)

WORD PORN VS. WORD STORM: In defense of the quiet novel, where words can kill and the only thing that goes boom is character. Is there a place for the quiet novel in today’s publishing world?  In this lecture, I’ll be taking a close look at three books that defy a quick answer to the question: “What’s it about?”—STONER by John Williams, MRS. BRIDGE and MR. BRIDGE by Evan S. Connell. I won’t be arguing that the loud novel is inferior, rather that the quiet novel is equal to it.



Graduate Lecture: Jesse Wehrenberg (F)

Writing About War.

Creating believable characters and situations in a combat zone is no easy task.  In this lecture, I’ll give you an Armed Forces guide to writing. Writing from the front lines. Writing behind enemy lines. Writing about actual armed conflict.



Evening Program: Writing Genre For Fun & Profit: Agent Bridget Smith, Sherri L. Smith, Tyler Dilts, Stephen Graham Jones

Room: Salon 6