Workshops

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

Spring is the perfect time to reconnect with the natural world and invigorate your writing practice! Through a blend of targeted group discussions, short required readings, and indoor and outdoor writing exercises, this workshop will provide practical tools, techniques, and inspiration for writing with passion about a landscape as a living, breathing, and changing entity.

Each session also features a conversation with an invited guest poet, who will share tips, insights, and writing strategies drawn from their own deep practice of nature-based writing. Guest writers include poet and essayist Brian Bartlett, poet and musician Allan Cooper, and poet and prose writer Basma Kavanagh.

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. Rags of Night in Our Mouths, her next poetry collection, is forthcoming in spring of 2022 from McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Recommended experience level: Writers at all levels and stages are warmly invited to attend

Location: Zoom

Dates of 3-week workshop: Rescheduyle to Tuesdays, May 10 + May 17 + May 24, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $174 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $109

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

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, May 4, May 11, May 18 + May 25, June 1, June 8 + June 15, June 22, June 29, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Non-member price: $284 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $219

Registration for this workshop is closed.

Writing Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Stories (Virtual) with Julian Mortimer Smith

In this 4-week workshop, students will learn how to craft speculative fiction (SF) short stories—with a focus on the elements that are specific to speculative fiction: setting and worldbuilding, suspension-of-disbelief, introducing readers to unfamiliar concepts, and the unique challenges of characterization in SF stories. The workshop will also include an overview of SF markets and offer tips on publishing sci-fi and fantasy stories.

About the instructor: Julian Mortimer Smith (julianmortimersmith.com) is a writer of speculative fiction. His short stories have appeared in many of the world’s top science fiction and fantasy publications, including Asimov’s, Lightspeed, Terraform, and Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. His first book, The World of Dew and Other Stories, was published by Indiana University Press and won the 2020 Blue Light Books prize. He lives in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers

Location: Zoom

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

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

2022 member price: $149

Registration for this workshop is closed.

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