Five-hour workshop with a break for lunch, followed by an after-party. DATE:
Weekend of June 29-30, day T/B/D.
Austin, venue T/B/D based on number of attendees. COST: $250 (lunch and after-party not included).
SPACE IS LIMITED.
In this intensive masterclass with author and essayist Mark Dery, we’ll unlock the secrets of nonfiction–and your potential as a writer.
Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times.
Asked what had stumped him, he replied, “Getting the words right.”
Is that what it takes to be a great writer?
Was Joan Didion right when she said that “grammar is a piano” you can “play by ear” but must be mastered, however you do it?
Do you agree with Martin Amis that euphony—the music words make—is the essence of literary style, and that the only way to achieve it is by saying a sentence “aloud” in your head, reworking it until it swings?
In this five-hour masterclass with author and essayist Mark Dery, we’ll use questions like these to unlock the secrets of literary nonfiction.
Whether you’re an aspiring author stymied by the blank screen or a published writer of narrative nonfiction, personal essays, memoir, biography, or criticism, this in-depth but fast-moving day of lectures, discussions, writing exercises, and constructive critiques will give you the tools and confidence to take your writing to the next level.
Because “the essential thing for being a writer is being a good reader” (Christopher Hitchens), we’ll practice the Art of Deep Reading, dissecting some of literary nonfiction’s greats to see what makes their genius tick.
We’ll explore a wide array of nonfiction genres, learning to take a literary snapshot of a person or a place, spin memories into narrative, make the reader laugh, and use the prism of our experiences to refract the profundity hidden in everyday life.
But we’ll also borrow liberally from fiction’s bag of tricks, as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hunter S. Thompson, and Joan Didion have done, because why should novelists have all the fun?
We’ll study—and practice—the techniques masters of the craft use to create voice, tone, mood, narration, description, exposition, and argument.
We’ll learn strategies for demolishing writer’s block and organizing the story we want to tell, or the argument we want to make, into a compelling, well-paced piece of writing. We’ll drill down into sentence structure and zoom out to analyze the architecture of the work as a whole. We’ll learn how to speed up or slow down a sentence and which two sentences are the most important lines in any piece of writing.
Along the way, we’ll learn—and steal—from the best, cracking the codes that make great nonfiction great. We’ll workshop each other’s in-class efforts. Have spirited discussions. Come to a deeper understanding of this “spooky art” (Norman Mailer) that’s such a profound part of who we are. And leave transformed as writers.