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)

Price: At this time, registration for this workshop 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.)

Member Price: $204

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