Winter & Spring Workshops at a Glance (Updated)

We’re very pleased to announce our winter & spring schedule! With winter weather, public health, and accessibility in mind, we’re presenting an all-virtual slate of workshops, with each conducted via Zoom.

Listed below are all workshops with seats still available. This post will be updated as more workshops open for registration and as workshop seats sell out. To view all ongoing & upcoming workshops, including those with open waitlists, please visit our main Workshops page.

At this time, registration for most workshops is restricted to current WFNS members. However, membership is open to all who write or have an interest in writing. (Find out how to join or renew.)

If registration fees would make it difficult or impossible for you to participate in a particular workshop, we encourage you to contact Andy at communications@writers.ns.ca to arrange for alternative payment.

Becoming an Illustrator of Books for Children (virtual)
with Emma FitzGerald

Thursday, Jan 13, 7pm – 9pm

Author/illustrator Emma FitzGerald (Hand Drawn Halifax) will focus on how to become an illustrator for children’s books and what to expect from a contract with a publisher. Practical tips and opportunity for questions will make for a session grounded in opening your eyes to the traditional publishing scene in Canada. The session will include a short creative exercise on trusting instincts when responding to an author’s text. This offering is focused on helping yet-to-be-published illustrators but may be helpful to those who are relatively new to the profession.

Dream, Animal, Ghost, Dance: A Poetry Workshop (Virtual)
With Anne Simpson

Mondays, Jan 17 – Feb 7, 7pm – 9pm

How do certain words shape us? What alternate realities do they allow us to inhabit? Each week, we will investigate one of these words—dream, animal, ghost, or dance—consider a poem by another writer who takes this word as inspiration, and experiment with a new form that comes out of paying close attention to this word. Could a call-and-response form give your poem more power? Could you write a poem as series of postcards to someone no longer living? We will revel in the ways a poem can mean new things according to the form in which you choose to write it. This will be a playful four-week workshop, full of discoveries about what poetry can do.

The Presence of the Past: Writing Historical Fiction (virtual)
with Michelle Butler Hallett

Tuesdays, Jan 18 – Feb 8, 7pm – 9pm

In this workshop, participants will explore various aspects of writing historical fiction through presentation and discussion of ideas and practical writing exercises. Week 1 focuses on conflict on both macro and micro levels. Week 2 examines the possibilities of considering character and plot as a Janus-head (or two sides of the same coin) and explores how each can drive the other, especially in historical fiction. Week 3 dives into setting and sense, while week 4 returns to plot by exploring the connections and differences between plot and story. Expect a lively and vigorous experience!

Next Step: Fiction Workshop for Youth (virtual)
with Sylvia Gunnery

Saturdays, Jan 29 – Mar 12, 10:30am – 11:45am

This workshop is for young writers aged 13 and up.

You’re writing, right? And you want to write more and learn more and develop your own writer’s voice and meet other young writers and share your writing. Right. This 6-session fiction workshop is your chance to do all these things. Make the commitment: it’s your next step as a writer.

Podcast Storytelling (virtual)
with Carmel Mikol

Wednesdays, Feb 2 – Feb 23, 7pm – 9pm

Are you looking for new mediums for your storytelling? Exploring ways to grow your readership? Whether you’re already podcasting or are just exploring ideas, this four-part workshop series will help you leverage your core skills as a writer and translate the fundamental principles of good storytelling into unique opportunities in audio formats. At the end of the workshop, you’ll know how to research and prepare for interviews, write audio scripts, and edit your material into an engaging listening experience. You’ll be equipped to start writing a podcast that stands out from the crowd and represents the topics, conversations, and stories you’re passionate about.

Writing for Younger Children (virtual)
with Janet McNaughton

Wednesdays, Feb 2 – Feb 23, 7pm – 9pm

This workshop will focus on the genres specific to younger children, picture book texts and chapter books, taking a hands-on approach with writing exercises in each class. People who don’t write them often assume anyone can toss off a picture book text. In fact, picture books require the skills of a poet, the brevity of a journalist, and the psychological constitution of a good parent, who can place the work in the hands of others and step back from the final process. Nonfiction picture books present their own unique challenges. Chapter books are crucial in helping children to transition from listeners to active readers, so strong writing and a good concept are important. We will also touch on the vital components of silliness and fun.

Creative Writing for Newcomers (virtual)
with Anne C. Kelly

Saturday, Feb 5 – Feb 26, 9:30am – 11:30am

This low-cost workshop is open to Newcomers to Canada (including new & past immigrants, new residents, and international students) and is designed for writers who are learning EAL (English as an additional language).

Are you a newcomer to Canada with a story you want to share? Do you want to develop and strengthen your creative writing skills? Join Anne C. Kelly for this four-week course to build basic writing skills and explore the principles of creative writing. The course will include writing exercises, sharing with other learners, and a chance to create and edit the story you want to tell.

Your First Novel (virtual)
with Sarah Mian

Mondays, Feb 14 – Mar 7, 7pm – 9pm

Writing a novel takes discipline, but it can be the most transformative and rewarding work of your life. In this four-week workshop, award-winning author Sarah Mian breaks the process down into manageable steps, offering a practical guide that will steer your story onto a clear and focused path. Along the way, she’ll debunk myths about the writing life, share wisdom from her own journey, and offer valuable tips for getting published.

Wayfinding through Creative Nonfiction (virtual)
with AnnMarie MacKinnon

Tuesdays, Feb 15 – Mar 8, 7pm – 9pm

What does it take to write a true story in a way that’s just as compelling as the most absorbing novel? In this multifaceted creative nonfiction workshop, we’ll delve into telling true narrative. Through discussions, writing exercises and workshop sessions, we’ll explore form, voice, structure and self-editing. We’ll talk about the elements of good narrative and look at how a piece of creative nonfiction works, from the sentence and paragraph level to its overall structure. And we’ll talk about what to do when we can’t get a piece of writing to work (as well as how to proceed when we’re ready to submit to editors).

Masterclass on Revision (virtual)
with Carol Bruneau

Wednesdays, Mar 2 – Mar 23, 7pm – 9pm

Fear and dread of revising can stand in the way of stories becoming their strongest selves. Often, revising means revisiting and falling in love (again) with a story’s inspiration and potential. In this workshop, we’ll focus on fine-tuning key elements—character development, plot and structure, dialogue and setting—to best convey the story’s truest meaning and keep a reader hooked. We’ll work on strengthening scenes, improving pacing, and deciding when to cut and when to add information—all to create a cohesive, propulsive read that’s satisfying from beginning to end. In other words, we’ll explore ways to make your long or short fiction the very best it can be.

Spoken Word Intensive (virtual)
with Andre Fenton & Rebecca Thomas

Mondays, Mar 14 – Mar 28, 7pm – 9pm

This workshop offers significantly reduced registration fees for BIPOC writers/artists.

This dynamic workshop will delve into the art of poetry with big hearts and open minds. Participants will address themes spanning from joy to activism and will explore the creative process, dedication, and responsibility of poets who use their voices. Alongside the bigger picture, there be tips and tricks for participants to turn their poem on the page into a complete performance, with a focus on stage presence, body language, and communication. The Spoken Word Intensive will be an inclusive space where participants can share their work, ask for advice, and spend time developing their craft.

Myth, Magic, Mystery, & Meditation (virtual)
with Sheree Fitch

Mondays, Mar 14 – Apr 4, 7pm – 9pm

Whether writing for adults or a younger audience, whether comedy or tragedy, the elements of myth, magic and mystery in poems and stories enhance and deepen the work. Using examples from many literary genres, we will write, share and explore. What do we consider mythic? What are our personal myths? How do our beliefs enter our work? What do we mean by mystery and the mysterious? And what happens when we approach writing through meditation?

The Question and the Answer: Writing Mysteries (virtual)
with Tom Ryan

Tuesdays, Mar 15 – Apr 5, 7pm – 9pm

WEEK ONE: The Question. After a general introduction and discussion of the history and evolution of mysteries and mystery sub-genres, we will jump right into getting started with a killer premise. WEEK TWO: The Investigation. We will examine the mechanics and structural considerations of the mystery genre, while delving into setting, atmosphere, and subtext. WEEK THREE: The Detective. We will focus on characters—witnesses, suspects, victims and villains alike—with special attention on creating a compelling protagonist. WEEK FOUR: The Answer. We will discuss working backward from the big reveal, with special attention paid to misdirection, planting clues, and delivering on the promise of your premise.

Raising the Dead: Bringing Facts to Life in Creative Nonfiction (virtual)
with Tyler LeBlanc

Wednesdays, Apr 6 – Apr 27, 7pm – 9pm

How do you turn your months, years, even decades of careful research into a compelling story? How do you translate those facts that you find so riveting and integral to your story into vivid scenes and illuminating passages? How do you make the facts work for you? In this workshop we’ll explore creative ways to find, process, and reimagine the very bedrock of nonfiction—the truth. Through discussions, writing exercises, and workshop sessions, we’ll dig into research techniques, scene creation, structure, and how you fit into it all. We’ll talk about how to research and write your way out of a dead-end, and how to extend your creativity into your fact-finding missions.

Staying in Scene: Assembling the Building Blocks of Fiction (virtual)
with Jeff Miller

Wednesdays, Apr 6 – Apr 27, 7pm – 9pm

Dramatizing action, conflict, and relationships, the scene is where fiction comes alive. But for new and emerging fiction writers, differentiating scene from exposition—and knowing when to use each—can be a challenge. This workshop will clear your confusion and help you, as a writer, “stay in scene.” Through craft lessons, discussions, writing prompts, and workshopping, we will explore the key elements of scene, including emotion and concrete sensory detail. We will place a particular emphasis on writing effective dialogue—one of the best ways of revealing character. We will also look at scene design, explore various types of scenes, how to know when a scene is necessary, and how to use memory and backstory without bringing the forward-motion of the story to a halt.

Landscape as Muse: A Poetry Workshop (virtual)
with Margo Wheaton

Saturdays, Apr 23 - May 7, 10am – noon

In this 3-session workshop, participants will be invited to explore and deepen their own artistic relationship to a landscape that inspires and impassions them. Through a blend of targeted group discussions, short required readings, and focused writing exercises—including plein air exercises outdoors—participants will discover the richness and particularities of writing about a landscape as a living, breathing, and changing entity. Each workshop will also feature a 30-minute Q&A session with an invited guest writer who will share specific writing strategies based on their practice of landscape-based writing. As an integral part of learning how to engage with a particular landscape artistically and consciously, an ecological lens will be employed throughout.

Foundations of Fiction (virtual)
with Paula Altenburg, Dave Beynon, & Becca Babcock

Wednesdays, May 4 - June 29, 7pm - 9pm

Foundations of Fiction presents three different approaches to the craft of fiction, coordinated to ensure new writers⁠—and those who've already published a few stories—are equipped with tested techniques. Weeks 1 - 3 (led by Paula Altenburg) focus on structure, plotting, and outlining; weeks 4 - 6 (led by Dave Beynon) examine scene, character, and dialogue; and weeks 7 - 9 (led by Becca Babcock) consider theme, imagery, and revision.

Additional winter and spring workshops will be added
as they open for registration.

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