Featured Workshops

Poetry Intensive (virtual) with Margo Wheaton

The goal of WFNS’s new “intensive” workshops is to guide writers through the feedback, revision, and submission processes that form the path from completed draft to submitted manuscript. Each “intensive” combines elements of WFNS’s traditional creative writing workshops and professional development sessions with the peer-to-peer feedback (facilitated by the instructor) that makes informal writing groups so valuable. Participants must have a completed draft before the workshop begins and must commit to reading other participants’ drafts between workshop sessions.

"From a Batch of Poems to a Unified Whole:
The Art of Crafting a Chapbook "

The magical process by which a poet transforms a bunch of seemingly unconnected poems into a unified manuscript, one ready to enter the world as a chapbook, can seem mysterious and fraught. How do you know when your poems are ready? Which poems should you use and which should you rewrite or discard? And what’s a chapbook, anyway?

A poetry chapbook is frequently the first volume a poet ever publishes. Although opinions vary, chapbooks are frequently about 10 – 20 pages in length. Doing the thoughtful work that is required to turn a batch of individual poems into a chapbook manuscript, one that’s ready to send to a publisher, enables you to develop the same skills that are required to create a full-length book of poems.

In this five-part workshop series, writers will discover the synergy that exists in a selection of their own poems and explore the innate structure and scaffolding upon which to build a polished chapbook manuscript. Through a combination of peer workshopping, group discussion, and facilitator-led presentations, participants will receive the feedback, knowledge, and skills that will enable them to move their own chapbook manuscripts from draft stage to final version. By the end of this workshop intensive, participants will know what sequencing is and have strategies to find their poems’ best order. They will have discerned their manuscript’s unique narrative arc and be able to check for consistency and flow. Participants will also identify the main subjects, themes and stylistic forms upon which they will focus their manuscripts. This will help them gain clarity about which poems to discard, as well as a sense of what new pieces they may need to write in order to create a strong chapbook manuscript. In the final session, participants will learn about the mechanics of preparing and submitting a chapbook manuscript for publication and explores options for submitting it.

About the instructor: Margo Wheaton lives in Kjipuktuk/Halifax and holds a Master’s degree in English and a Certificate in Adult Education, both from Dalhousie University. Her debut poetry collection, The Unlit Path Behind the House, won the Canadian Authors’ Association’s Fred Kerner Award for best book of the year and was shortlisted for the J.M. Abraham Award, The Gerald Lampert Award, the Fred Cogswell Award, and the Relit Award. She recently published Wild Green Light, with author David Adams Richards, as well as Rags of Night in Our Mouths (McGill-Queen’s UP).

Recommended experience level: Emerging and established poetry writers with at least two publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies—or with similar publication experience in another form or genre (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Dates of 5-week workshop: Tuesdays, Nov 15 + Nov 22 + Nov 29 + Dec 6 + Dec 13, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $254 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $189

Blueprint for a Memoir (virtual) with Donna Morrissey

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?

In this 8-hour workshop, you will learn just what the heck qualifies as ‘memoir’; the two types of ‘short memoir’ and which works best for your story; and how to find the heart of your story and strengthen it. You’ll also learn the critical ingredient for a successful story and how to focus and center a story over the three stages of storytelling. We’ll also discuss what to tell and how not to hurt others in the telling.

No writing experience necessary.

About the instructor: Donna Morrissey has published six nationally best selling novels and received awards in Canada, the US, and England, with her novel Sylvanus Now being shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. Donna’s fiction has been translated into several different languages. She was nominated for a Gemini for her script The Clothesline Patch, and her latest novel, The Fortunate Brother, spent six weeks on the bestsellers list and won the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel of 2017. Her memoir, Pluck, was released this year by Penguin Canada and quickly hit the bestsellers list.

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Dates of 2-week workshop: Monday, Nov 14; Wednesday, Nov 16; Monday, Nov 21; Wednesday, Nov 23, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $214 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $149

Fiction Intensive (virtual) with Stephanie Domet

The goal of WFNS’s new “intensive” workshops is to guide writers through the feedback, revision, and submission processes that form the path from completed draft to submitted manuscript. Each “intensive” combines elements of WFNS’s traditional creative writing workshops and professional development sessions with the peer-to-peer feedback (facilitated by the instructor) that makes informal writing groups so valuable. Participants must have a completed draft before the workshop begins and must commit to reading other participants’ drafts between workshop sessions.

The Novel

There are many paths to publication, and most of them start with a polished draft. In this fiction intensive, you’ll learn strategies and techniques for revision including self-editing and editing with peer feedback. You’ll also learn the basic best practices of preparing your polished manuscript for submission: writing a synopsis, writing query letters, and preparing for self-promotion/publicity—not to mention managing the feelings that arise at every stage.

No matter what path you take to publication, one of the most vital tools in a writer’s kit can be their peer relationships: a writers’ group can be a supportive atmosphere for ongoing professional development, so we’ll also focus on building and navigating writers’ group relationships, including guidance on how to develop feedback for peers and work with feedback from peers.

Participants should have at least a messy first draft of their novel in order to benefit fully from this workshop—but those with a messy first draft of a short story and a desire to learn about the novel are equally welcome.

About the instructor: Stephanie Domet is a writer and editor who lives in Kjipuktuk. She is the author of two novels for adults—Homing and Fallsy Downsies—and a book for middle grade readers called Amazing Atlantic Canadian Women. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of AfterWords Literary Festival, and she is probably wearing something she sewed.

Recommended experience level: Emerging and established fiction writers with at least one traditionally or self-published novel OR two publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies—or with similar publication experience in another form or genre (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Dates of 5-week workshop: Mondays, Nov 7 + Nov 14 + Nov 21 + Nov 28 + Dec 5, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $254 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $189

Taking Care of Business (virtual) fall, 2022

Taking Care of Business returns, offering 4 professional development sessions for a single low price. Whether you attend just one session or all four, you’ll get tips for literary success from industry insiders, benefit from behind-the-scenes de-mystification of the topics under discussion, and have the chance to ask your own questions during each session’s 30-minute Q&A.

Click the tabs below for the details of each session.

Recommended experience level: This edition of Taking Care of Business addresses topics most relevant to established and professional authors, but new and emerging writers are welcome to attend (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Session dates: Thursdays, Oct 20, Oct 27, Nov 3, & Nov 10, 2022 (7:00pm to 8:30pm each session)

Non-member price: $104 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $39

Nonfiction Intensive (virtual) with AnnMarie MacKinnon

The goal of WFNS’s new “intensive” workshops is to guide writers through the feedback, revision, and submission processes that form the path from completed draft to submitted manuscript. Each “intensive” combines elements of WFNS’s traditional creative writing workshops and professional development sessions with the peer-to-peer feedback (facilitated by the instructor) that makes informal writing groups so valuable. Participants must have a completed draft before the workshop begins and must commit to reading other participants’ drafts between workshop sessions.

"CNF Launchpad"

CNF Launchpad is an intensive workshop that aims to lay a solid foundation for your creative nonfiction (CNF) pieces and prepare them for launch into the world. Through close reading and analysis, discussion, workshopping, and feedback from colleagues, we’ll develop pieces from their draft forms and get them to ready to pitch for publication.

Part writing craft and part business-of-writing know-how, this five-week workshop will cover techniques for reading your own work with fresh eyes; offer insight on the ins and outs of self-editing/revision and on working with an editor; and provide pitch and query advice and tips. Participants should begin the workshop with a nonfiction essay draft they’d like to see progress to its next stage of development and should be prepared to spend time thoughtfully reading the work of their colleagues.

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: Emerging and established nonfiction writers with at least two publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies—or with similar publication experience in another form or genre (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Dates of 5-week workshop: Wednesdays, Oct 12 + Oct 19 + Oct 26 + Nov 2 + Nov 9, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $254 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $189

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

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! Participants are welcome to work on an existing project throughout the workshop or to accept an assigned historical moment (with a brief summary provided).

About the instructor: Michelle Butler Hallett (she/her) is a history nerd and disabled person who writes fiction about evil, violence, love, and grace. Her most recent novels are Constant Nobody (winner of the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award) and This Marlowe (longlisted for the ReLit and Dublin International Awards). Butler Hallett lives in St John’s.

Recommended experience level: Emerging and established writers (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Oct 4 + Oct 11 + Oct 18 + Oct 25, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $214 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $149

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca