Creative Writing at URI            Summer Programs

2015 Event Descriptions


Workshops meet each day of the conference: Thursday, 6/18, 1:30 – 3:30 pm; Friday, 6/19, 9:00 – 11:00 am; and Saturday, 6/20, 9:00 – 11:00 am.

Beginning Fiction – Jody Lisberger

This workshop will help beginning writers figure out how to start a story, develop dramatic tension, and create compelling characters. We will use a few published stories and exercises to learn these skills and also these: how to move a story forward, make the best use of back story, write dialogue, shape scene, and develop interiority.The workshop will generate material for participants to develop later into stories. There will be a short writing assignment and reading given in workshop on Thursday, due for Friday, and a short exercise on Friday due for Saturday.

Intermediate Fiction – Adam Braver

Artfulness in a narrative often is more essential to conveying a story’s meaning than the storyline. In other words, the power of a story is in the way one tells it—not just the content. But first, we’ll start with the question of what we’re writing and why we’re writing it: Why this aspect of the story? Why this perspective? Who cares? We’ll look at narrative strategies, asking questions of what makes a story artful, and what is the balance. We also will engage in writing exercises, and culminate the workshop with readings of an original short piece.

Advanced Fiction – Brian Leung

This fiction workshop will, of course, attend to the craft tools of plot, character, setting, and etc. but we will also explore the challenges and possibilities of writing outside one’s subject position as well pursuing form and structure beyond the traditional linear story form.  We’ll place a keen eye on invention, imagination, and surprise, exploring the difference between tool and gimmick.  Recognizing the economy of our time together, we’ll apply our discussion and exercises to the production of short-shorts/flash fiction, recognizing that most of us will go on to apply the workshop concepts to larger projects.

Beginning Poetry – Gregory Pardlo

Advanced Poetry – Tina Chang

The Sensual Form
This workshop is intended for writers who are interested in sensual detail (relating to or drawing from the five senses) with the understanding that poetry cannot exist without spirit, soul, shadow, intuition. In a portion of the class we concentrate feeling, narrative, memory, witness. The other half of the class is devoted to poetic devices, formal strategies, structure, rhythm, sound. We’ll have the chance to practice a traditional form such as the pantoum and ghazal and we’ll also practice a modernized form such as the contemporary zuihitsu, the pecha kucha, or erasure, all the while moving toward one’s own individualized form(s).

Creative Nonfiction – Karen Brennan

Memoir – Richard Hoffman

Screenwriting – Robert Leuci

In our three day workshop on screenwriting we will cover professional formatting, the proper use of elements such as scene heading, action, the parenthetical, dialogue and transitions among others. Most importantly we will deal with the particular complexity of the craft itself, the writing of the screenplay. Through a comfortable workshop atmosphere we will deal with narrative and character development, pacing, tone and plot points. We will learn and use index cards, script notes, loglines and treatments and copyright protection. For all those that wish, an advanced copy of an already started screenplay will be accepted and discussed both privately and in class. There will be work, but we’ll have fun.

Master Classes

And Bowing Not Knowing to WhatTracy K. Smith
1:45 – 2:45 pm, Friday, 6/19

Poetry has always lived in close proximity to the sacred. Even poetry that is rooted purely in the secular, the everyday, the world of objects and real experience often manages to alert us to other perspectives, presences and realities. Simone Weil has stated, ‘We know by means of our intelligence that what the intelligence does not comprehend is more real than what it does comprehend.’ In this workshop, we will explore the ways that various contemporary poets have used their poems as vehicles for approaching the mysteries that surround and confound us. We’ll look at how poets like Marie Howe, Franz Wright, Mary Szybist, Lucille Clifton, Adélia Prado and others have conjured and re-fashioned a sense of the sacred in their work.

Making a StoryAntonya Nelson
3:00 – 4:15 pm, Friday, 6/19

This class will lay out ten strategies — from inception to solid draft — for turning an autobiographical event into a short piece of fiction, in ten steps.

Craft Sessions

How to Lose at Family Feud and Live to Tell About ItBrian Leung
3:00 – 4:15 pm, Friday 6/19

Most writers have ambitions of originality and fresh imagination, and yet, quite often we write “the top five answers on the board.” That is, we first imagine what most other people would imagine. This craft session for prose writers will embrace the metaphor of “losing at Family Feud,” as we discuss several examples of published writing that do just that. A brief writing exercise will give us a tool to take beyond the session and apply to our various writing projects.

Finding Truth Outside the BordersAdam Braver
11:15 – 12:30 pm, Saturday, 6/20

In France, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction nearly is nonexistent. The fictional world (and its narrative conventions) mixes with the autobiographical or “real” world in a search for a larger truth—one not necessarily hemmed in by manmade borders. This is exemplified by the works of 2014 Nobel Laureate Patrick Modiano, as well as award winners from Gwenaelle Aubry to Delphine De Vigan. But given our cultural expectations, this can raise many questions. In this craft session, we will discuss such questions. What is truth? What are the ethics? What are the boundaries? This will follow with an exercise.


Ru Freeman and Padma Venkatraman

Ru Freeman and Padma Venkatraman will discuss the relationships between ethnicity/race/culture and fiction, how ethnicity/race/culture may influence a writer’s language, the impact of colonialism on the politics of South Asian writers, and the place of diversity in writing and publishing today. The audience is invited to participate actively by asking questions that relate to various aspects of diversity and multicultural literature.

Think Big We Do

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