Workshops

Masterclass on Revision (with Carol Bruneau)

May 5 – 26, 7 – 9pm >>

Sorry: this creative writing workshop is now full! 
To join the waitlist, please contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca

Join award-winning author Carol Bruneau to work through the fears and dread of revising fiction to see the rewards of the process. We’ll work on fine-tuning key elements of a story — character development, plot and structure, dialogue and setting — to best convey its central meaning. We’ll strengthen scenes, improve pacing, and decide 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, you’ll learn how to make your long or short fiction the very best it can be.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Carol Bruneau is the acclaimed author of five novels, including A Circle on the Surface, winner of last year’s Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, and three short story collections. Her most recent collection, A Bird on Every Tree, was a finalist for the 2018 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. Her first novel, Purple for Sky, won both awards in 2001. Re-released for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, her novel Glass Voices was a Globe and Mail Best Book for 2007 and has become a book club favourite. Bruneau’s reviews, stories and essays have appeared nation-wide in newspapers, journals and anthologies, and two of her novels have been published internationally. She is a 2019 recipient of an Arts Nova Scotia Established Artist Recognition Award, and lives and works in Halifax. In addition to her work as an author, Bruneau has taught writing for many years. She has led workshops and writing classes at WFNS and various universities, including NSCAD, Dalhousie, and Acadia, and has served as a mentor in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Wednesdays, May 5 + May 12 + May 19 + May 26 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Creative Writing for Newcomers (with Vanessa Lent)

May 4 – June 8, 7 – 9pm >>

Join us for a free creative writing workshop for newcomers to Canada: explore different kinds of creative writing and try out new forms of expression. 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. This course offers 6 self-contained mini-workshops on creative forms, including writing exercises and a chance to share and collaborate with other learners.
     Attending all workshop dates is not required, but participants who attend at least 4 of the 6 lessons will get the most out of the experience. Participants will be sent a schedule of the 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 Writer’s 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. 

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 6-week workshop: Tuesdays, May 4 + May 11 + May 18 + May 25 + June 1 + June 8 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Registration for this workshop is open to Newcomers to Canada, regardless of immigration or residency status. The workshop is free.

A $10 deposit ($5 for members) is required to register. This deposit will be refunded immediately after the first workshop date. If the deposit poses a barrier to your registration, please contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca so that we can waive your deposit fee.

Who are these people and what is happening to them?: Character and Plot in Short Fiction (with Alexander MacLeod)

May 4 – 25, 7 – 9pm >>

Character and plot. For many readers and writers, these are the two most important narrative elements in any short story. Some people read and/or write primarily for characters. They feel that a story, at its core, has to be about someone or about a collection of figures. A family saga, for example. Others prefer plot. For them, narrative is what happens, and, in the end, a good story—a mystery for example—is essentially a sequence of unfolding scenes or events. What is a writer to do with this back-and-forth, chicken-and-egg kind of problem? We’ve been talking about it since at least the year 4 (in Horace’s Ars Poetica) and the issue doesn’t seem to be getting much closer to resolution. 

Rather than trying to quiet these tensions, this workshop explores the vital interdependence of plot and character and asks us to think deeply about the way characters are produced and/or revealed by what happens to them. Using some key exercises and working with examples selected from the participants own work, we will try to reflect on the way these two narrative elements can be strategically combined to produce powerful and memorable scenes. We will also try to branch out a bit to see how, especially in short fiction,  good characters and good plotting absolutely require key contributions from the more poetic elements of our writing such as pacing, tone, rhythm, diction, imagery and sentence structure. Who are these people and what is happening to them? What does their story sound like? How does it “go”? These are just a few of the questions we will try to answer in this sequence of workshops.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Alexander MacLeod teaches English, Atlantic Canada Studies, and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s University. His first book of short stories, Light Lifting, won an Atlantic Book Award and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The collection was also long-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Award for Excellence in Fiction and was named a “Book of the year” by the American Library Association, the Globe and Mail, The Irish Times, Amazon.ca, and Quill and Quire. In 2019, his story “Lagomorph,” first published in Granta, won the 100th O. Henry Prize, an international award recognizing excellence in short fiction. He lives in Dartmouth.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

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

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

The Plot Thickens: Crafting a Compelling Romance (with Paula Altenburg)

Apr 26 – May 31, 7 – 9pm >>

In this five-week workshop, we’ll explore the romance genre and the tools required to finish a viable story. There will be an introduction to basic writing tools and techniques you’ll need to get started, as well as an overview on the three-act structure. A bibliography of the resources used by the instructor will be included.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

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 graduate of the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she writes contemporary romance and fantasy with romantic elements.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 5-week workshop: Mondays, Apr. 26 + May 3 + May 10 + May 17 + May 31 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
(May 24 is a holiday)

Price: $254 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $189

The Pivotal Moment: Memoir Writing (with Cooper Lee Bombardier)

Apr 15 – May 6, 6 – 8pm >>

In this four-week memoir-writing workshop, you’ll take a singular, transformative moment from your life and unpack it using the literary tools of creative nonfiction to discover the deeper meaning and creative possibilities to be found in reflecting upon one’s life events. This workshop is suitable for writers of all levels and experience.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Cooper Lee Bombardier is an American writer and visual artist living in Canada. He is the author of the memoir-in-essays Pass With Care. His writing appears in The Kenyon Review, The Malahat Review, Ninth Letter, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, Longreads, BOMB, and The Rumpus; and in 15 anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, The RemedyEssays on Queer Health Issues, and the Lambda-nominated anthology, Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Speculative Fiction From Transgender Writers, which won a 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at University of King’s College and in women and gender studies at Saint Mary’s University.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Thursdays, Apr. 15 + Apr. 22 + Apr. 29 + May 6 (6:00pm to 8:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Storytelling (with shalan joudry)

Apr 6 – 27, 6:30 – 8:30pm >>

In a time when so many of us are working to reclaim our Indigenous methodologies, shalan joudry feels that it’s imperative that we practice oral storytelling and deep listening to oral story. Through this 4-week workshop series, she will work with Indigenous writers, storytellers, poets and other narrative crafters to share about her experiences, tips, tools, and philosophy about storytelling. Shalan will share her background in this art form, why and how she turned to oral storytelling, but also discuss the importance and role of written work. Weaving between conversation and times for activities/exercises, participants are also encouraged to bring paper and a pencil to the sessions.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Shalan is a mother and narrative artist working in many mediums. She is a poet, playwright, podcast producer, oral storyteller and actor, as well as a cultural interpreter. Her first and third books are poetry collections, both with Gaspereau Press, Generations Re-merging (2014) and Waking Ground (2020). She also has a published theatrical play, Elapultiek, through Pottersfield Press (2019). Elapultiek was produced by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre in August 2018 and October 2019. Shalan has shared her poetry, oral storytelling and drum singing with numerous stages, events, schools and organizations for the past decade. Shalan also runs a seasonal cultural retreat centre with her partner, facilitating cultural and ecological professional development workshops. She lives in her home territory of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia) with her family in their community of L’sitkuk (Bear River First Nation).

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Apr. 6 + Apr. 13 + Apr. 20 + Apr. 27 (6:30pm to 8:30pm)

Registration for this workshop is open to Indigenous participants only. The workshop is free.

A $10 deposit ($5 for members) is required to register. This deposit will be refunded immediately after the first workshop date. If the deposit poses a barrier to your registration, please contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca so that we can waive your deposit fee.

First Words: Poetry (with Andy Verboom, Lucas Crawford, and Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Apr 1 – May 27, 7 – 9pm >>

As a welcoming space for beginner or emerging writers, First Words: Poetry provides an overview of the craft from several professional perspectives. No prerequisites or pre-existing pieces of writing are necessary for participation in this course.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS:

Andy Verboom is from subrural Nova Scotia and lives in K’jipuktuk (Halifax). He is the publisher of Insomniac Press and Collusion Books, the co-founder of long con magazine, and the author of six poetry chapbooks, most recently DBL (knife fork book, 2020). His poetry has won Frog Hollow’s Chapbook Contest and Descant’s Winston Collins Prize and appeared in several Canadian literary magazines. Andy is also the Communications Officer at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

Lucas Crawford is the author of three books of poetry. Sideshow Concessions (Invisible Publishing, 2015), his first book, was awarded the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Belated Bris of the Brainsick (Nightwood Editions, 2019), his third book, addresses queer mental health by way of poems about ancestry, food, gender, struggle, and connection. It was awarded the 2020 J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award. Lucas guest-edited Matrix magazine‘s “Trans Lit” in 2016, during which time he was also the Critic-in-Residence for CWILA.

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a Mi’kmaq-settler poet, writer, and critic. Her books include Still No Word (Breakwater 2015), the recipient of Eagle Canada’s Out in Print Award; I Am A Body of Land (Book*hug 2019); and the forthcoming collection, Lunar Tides (Book*hug 2021). Shannon holds a MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia and a MA in English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is a doctoral student at the University of New Brunswick and the editor of Visual Arts News Magazine.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 9-week workshop:
with Andy Verboom: Thursdays, Apr. 1 + Apr. 8 + Apr. 15 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
with Lucas Crawford: Thursdays, Apr. 22 + Apr. 29 + May 6 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
with Shannon Webb-Campbell: Thursdays, May 13 + May 20 + May 27 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $279 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $215

Writing YA Mysteries and Thrillers (with Jo Treggiari)

Mar 29 – Apr 19, 7 – 9pm >>

Learn how to craft page-turning mysteries and thrillers for the young adult audience using techniques like plotting backwards, building suspense, giving your characters agency, motives and motivation, utilizing red herrings, plot twists, clues and reveals for maximum impact, and incorporating an emotional or coming-of-age change in your main character’s arc.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Jo Treggiari was born in London, England, and raised in Canada. She spent many years in Oakland, California and New York, where she trained as a boxer, wrote for a punk magazine, and owned a gangster rap/indie rock record label. Her novel Ashes, Ashes, a YA post-apocalyptic adventure published by Scholastic Press, was a multiple award nominee and bestseller. Her acclaimed novella Love You Like Suicide, appeared in the Fierce Ink Press anthology Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL and as a limited edition of the long-running zine Cometbus. Her most recent YA novels are Blood Will Out, a psych-thriller, published by Penguin Teen (2018), and a second thriller, The Grey Sisters, (Penguin Teen 2019) which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary award and was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis award.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Mondays, Mar. 29 + Apr. 5 + Apr. 12 + Apr. 19 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Who are these people and what is happening to them?: Character and Plot in Short Fiction (with Alexander MacLeod)

Mar 17 – Apr 7, 7 – 9pm >>

Sorry: this creative writing workshop is now full, and we are no longer taking names for its waitlist. 
We recommend registering for the second iteration of this workshop, running from May 4 – May 25.

Character and plot. For many readers and writers, these are the two most important narrative elements in any short story. Some people read and/or write primarily for characters. They feel that a story, at its core, has to be about someone or about a collection of figures. A family saga, for example. Others prefer plot. For them, narrative is what happens, and, in the end, a good story—a mystery for example—is essentially a sequence of unfolding scenes or events. What is a writer to do with this back-and-forth, chicken-and-egg kind of problem? We’ve been talking about it since at least the year 4 (in Horace’s Ars Poetica) and the issue doesn’t seem to be getting much closer to resolution. 

Rather than trying to quiet these tensions, this workshop explores the vital interdependence of plot and character and asks us to think deeply about the way characters are produced and/or revealed by what happens to them. Using some key exercises and working with examples selected from the participants own work, we will try to reflect on the way these two narrative elements can be strategically combined to produce powerful and memorable scenes. We will also try to branch out a bit to see how, especially in short fiction,  good characters and good plotting absolutely require key contributions from the more poetic elements of our writing such as pacing, tone, rhythm, diction, imagery and sentence structure. Who are these people and what is happening to them? What does their story sound like? How does it “go”? These are just a few of the questions we will try to answer in this sequence of workshops.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Alexander MacLeod teaches English, Atlantic Canada Studies, and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s University. His first book of short stories, Light Lifting, won an Atlantic Book Award and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The collection was also long-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Award for Excellence in Fiction and was named a “Book of the year” by the American Library Association, the Globe and Mail, The Irish Times, Amazon.ca, and Quill and Quire. In 2019, his story “Lagomorph,” first published in Granta, won the 100th O. Henry Prize, an international award recognizing excellence in short fiction. He lives in Dartmouth.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Wednesdays, Mar. 17 + Mar. 24 + Mar. 31 + Apr. 7 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Sorting Fact from Fiction: How to Get and Verify Information for your Non-Fiction Work (with Joan Baxter)

Mar 9 – 30, 7 – 9 pm >>

In this age of social media, when it is becoming ever more difficult to sort fact from fanciful fiction, the importance of well-researched non-fiction writing has never been greater. But where and to whom does one go to get facts, what are some of the most important and reliable sources of information for non-fiction writers? Let the treasure hunt begin—with practical activities, shared ideas, tips and experiences, and group discussions about how best to collect, verify and then sort through all that information that goes into a non-fiction book.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Joan Baxter is a Nova Scotian author, journalist, development researcher/writer and anthropologist who divides her time between Canada and Africa. Her 2017 book, The Mill – Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, won the 2018 Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, and was shortlisted for three other awards. It also topped the Nova Scotia Chapters Indigo bestseller list for three months. Other books include Dust From Our Eyes (2008), an unblinkered look at Africa; A Serious Pair of Shoes: An African Journal (2001), winner of the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award; and Graveyard for Dreams: One Woman’s Odyssey in Africa (1994). In addition to hundreds of news reports and features for BBC World Service, her short fiction has also been aired on this worldwide radio service in several languages. She has lived and worked in Mexico, Guatemala, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Sierra Leone, and is multi-lingual.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Mar. 9 + Mar. 16 + Mar. 23 + Mar. 30 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

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