Featured Workshops

Creative Writing for Newcomers (virtual) with Vanessa Lent

Nov 3 – Dec 1, 7 – 9pm >>

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition” — James Baldwin

This five-week workshop will begin with a guided exploration of what it means to write about the many meanings of “home” — writing towards a new home, writing through longing to a past home, or writing to an imagined home. Participants will then spend the next four weeks learning about writing techniques while working on a single project. There will be weekly instructor feedback and opportunities to workshop parts of their projects with other participants. The workshop aims to equip participants with the knowledge and tools they need to continue their writing journeys with confidence.

Creative writing not only builds English writing skills, it also provides a fun and stress-free opportunity to deepen understanding of both self and language. Attending all workshop dates is not required, but participants who attend at least 4 of the 5 lessons will get the most out of the experience. Participants will be sent a schedule of workshop topics in advance.

About the instructor: Vanessa Lent is a language instructor and writer living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She has been a teacher and curriculum developer for Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) since 2015. She has published poetry in The Dalhousie Review, PRISM International, Public Poetics (WLU Press, 2015), Acta Victoriana, and Room and recently collaborated on a graphic novel excerpt for the collection Nova Graphica (Conundrum Press, 2020). Vanessa was awarded entrance to the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia’s 2018 Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program, and her poem “To Fisherman’s Cove” appeared in the 2020 Poetry in Motion project.

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers

Location: Zoom

Dates of 5-week workshop: Wednesdays, Nov 3 + Nov 10 + Nov 17 + Nov 24 + Dec 1 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Registration deposit: $10 ($5 for WFNS members)

This free workshop is open to Newcomers to Canada, including new and past immigrants, new residents, and international students and is designed for writers who are learning EAL (English as an additional language). You do not need to share your residency status in order to participate.

The registration deposit will be refunded after the first workshop session takes place. You can register without paying a deposit by emailing Andy at communications@writers.ns.ca.

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

Oct 18 – Nov 1, 7 – 9pm >>

Led by Governor General’s literary Award finalist Rebecca Thomas and Ann Connor Brimer Award finalist Andre Fenton, 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.

About the co-instructors: Andre Fenton is an award-winning spoken word artist & filmmaker who has represented Halifax at 7 national poetry slams across Canada. He is an author of three books, Ode to Teen Angst (2016), Worthy of Love (Formac, 2018), and ANNAKA (Nimbus, 2019). He is based in the Halifax area. Rebecca Thomas is an award-winning Mi’kmaw poet. She is Halifax’s former Poet Laureate (2016 – 2018) and has coordinated the Halifax Slam Poetry team (2014 – 2017). She is also the author of the children’s book I’m Finding My Talk (Globe & Mail Top 100 Pick of 2019; CBC Best Picture Book of 2019; and multi-award nominee) and the collection of adult poetry I place you into the fire (CBC Best Canadian Poetry pick of 2020).

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers

Location: Zoom

Dates of 3-week workshop: Mondays, Oct 18 + Oct 25 + Nov 1 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Wayfinding through Creative Nonfiction (in-person) with AnnMarie MacKinnon

Oct 16 – Oct 23, 1 – 5pm >>

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). Participants should bring an idea for a piece of creative nonfiction to develop or a work-in-progress to workshop with the group.

About the instructor: AnnMarie MacKinnon has been working in some form of publishing—either books or magazines— for nearly two decades, most recently as publisher and editor-in-chief of Geist magazine. She currently lives on Cape Breton Island.

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (1113 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS)

Dates of 2-week workshop: Saturdays, Oct 16 + Oct 23, 2021 (1:00pm to 5:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

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

Oct 13 – Dec 8, 7 – 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 tried-and-tested techniques.

  • Weeks 1 – 3 (led by Paula Altenburg): This three-part “Structuring your Story through Plot” section will focus on the basics of story structure for commercial fiction and make comparisons between popular methods of plotting within the industry. Participants will complete these weeks with a viable, point-form story outline in hand to carry them forward into the next two workshops in the Foundations of Fiction series.
  • Weeks 4 – 6 (led by Dave Beynon): “Setting the Scene” will examine the elements of a scene toward build a realistic, tangible, convincing setting. “Fleshing Out Characters” will consider how to make engaging and memorable heroes, villains, and background players. “The Importance of Dialogue” will borrow techniques from theatre, teaching participants to convey important information through dialogue in a way that is disbelief-suspending, full of cadence, and natural.
  • Weeks 7 – 9 (led by Becca Babcock): In week 7, participants will consider how theme helps shape the story, and how to use subtext to reveal the theme, as well as the characters’ conflicts and motivations. Week 8 will involve an exploration of language and imagery; participants will focus on making key moments of their stories more vivid and evocative through concrete imagery and memorable figurative language. Finally, in week 9, participants will closely consider the revision and editing process as they develop skills to assess and revise their own work, understand and evaluate editors’ feedback, and offer feedback to other writers.

About the instructors:

  • USA Today-bestselling author Paula Altenburg grew up in rural Nova Scotia knowing that, at some point in her life, she was likely to be a fiction writer. Swapping Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey books with her father guaranteed she wasn’t going to be the next Jane Austen, much to the dismay of her English teacher mother. A degree in Social Anthropology from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia confirmed that writing fiction and building worlds was the most logical career path for her. As well as writing commercial fiction, she’s worked in technical publications, holds certification in proposal management, and writes articles for international trade publications.
  • Originally from Britain, Dave Beynon moved to Canada as an infant, grew up on a farm northwest of Toronto, and worked as a cow-milker, short order cook, waiter, YMCA residence manager, factory worker, and purveyor of fine corrugated packaging and displays. He now lives on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies and periodicals, online, and in podcasts. In 2011, his novel The Platinum Ticket was shortlisted for the inaugural Terry Pratchett Prize. Dave has also co-hosted a local cable TV show called Turning Pages, an in-depth interview show that highlights authors, writing and publishing.
  • Becca Babcock grew up in Alberta, but since 2005, she’s lived just outside of Halifax with her husband Trent, and now with their five-year-old son, Thorin. Becca is a writer, writing instructor, and sometimes actor and filmmaker. She teaches writing and English at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and occasionally at other universities in the region. Her second book (and first novel), One Who Has Been Here Before, was published by Vagrant Press earlier this year.

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers

Location: Zoom

Dates of 9-week workshop: Wednesdays, Oct 13, Oct 20, Oct 27 + Nov 3, Nov 10, Nov 17 + Nov 24, Dec 1, Dec 8, 2021 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $269 (incl. WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $204

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