The Story Workshop


Spring 2018
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Are you writing alone, and looking for thoughtful readers?
Do you want to learn how to make your writing better?
Have other creative writing workshops left you feeling overwhelmed or uninspired?


The revision process can be mysterious and thrilling. In revision, as in all writing, you’re learning how to live with uncertainty and possibility. This doesn’t have to be distressing!

It’s reassuring to remember that all of our favourite stories and books have had humble beginnings, with raw and unpolished materials, sketchy scenes, overwritten description, or underdeveloped characters. Revision is a beautiful part of the writing process, and you can learn how to enjoy it.

The Story Workshop allows writers to support each other by also being thoughtful readers who can help make the revision process a pleasure and an adventure.

Does that sound like something you crave?

If so, this is your program.
THE PROGRAM

In The Story Workshop, you’ll continue the work you started in the suggested prerequisites The Story Course (formerly called the Story Is a State of Mind course) or The Story Intensive and take it to the next level.

What Is The Story Workshop?

The Story Workshop is a real-time, online writing workshop with deadlines, instruction, community, accountability, support, and feedback. The program is open to writers of all genres, and is perfect for short story writers. The form is similar to a traditional college writing workshop, but with refreshing distinctions.

You will submit one story for critique during the workshop, and the class will spend each week reading and discussing one writer’s story. The critique takes place over three days. Each story receives a rich and detailed discussion; having the classroom open for three days makes it possible to work with writers in different time zones.

You’ll be one of six writers in a class with one devoted teacher who will help you refine your writing by guiding your critique and facilitating the discussion each week.

After your critique, you will receive practical guidance and instruction for your revision — so you won’t feel confused or overwhelmed, and you’ll know exactly what to do next.

The most exciting thing about The Story Workshop is how much you are going to learn about craft by giving and receiving valuable critiques. It’s edifying to receive a critique, but true understanding comes from learning how to read like a writer.

Who Is The Story Workshop for?

The Story Workshop is for you if you have finished a short story, and you don’t know what to do with it next. It’s a safe place for you to share your unpolished work, because you can trust that six good readers have got your back. They’re going to help you make it better.

The Story Workshop is for you if you have completed the suggested prerequisites The Story Course or The Story Intensive, and you have a personal writing practice.

It’s also for you if you want to go beyond freewriting and technical tinkering when you revise. The Story Workshop will show you how to recognize the mechanics of great writing, and teach you how to articulate the things you discover through your close reading. It’s a practical workshop: you will learn how to elevate your writing through craft.

If you have a short story draft ready for critique now, and you want to understand why your story works, and why it doesn’t, and you’re ready to learn how to look at your writing with more equanimity, you will love this program.

The Story Workshop is for you if you are curious, thoughtful, engaged, and—most importantly—generous.

Generosity is an important component in all of the courses that I offer. But in this course, where participants are submitting their unfinished stories for review, generosity to others (and to yourself) is crucial. This is the magic ingredient that will help you get the most from this workshop.

"I loved making connections with other aspiring writers. The opportunity to read writers' stories was fascinating, humbling and ultimately very encouraging. My TA, Jen, was skillful, positive and offered brilliant insights and suggestions in the kindest possible way."
—Keva, 2016 student
THE BENEFITS

If you are new to writing workshops, you’ll do well to start with this one. You’ll learn how to discuss literature as a writer, from the inside out, and learn how to write more vividly, with more truth. Many people in the workshop are Story Is a State of Mind alumni, so if you’ve been writing with us already, you’ll share some language and writing philosophies with your classmates.

If you’re not new to writing workshops, this one might be different from other ones you’ve experienced.

What makes this workshop different?

It’s the specific way I teach critique, and the careful way it is facilitated in the group. Discussions are non-competitive and reflective: everyone in the workshop reads each submission with utmost care and curiosity. My critiques have benevolent boundaries, and the roots of discussion are firmly planted in writing craft. My guidelines create an atmosphere of trust and excitement: the best place for insight to flourish.

I am passionate about this method because it ensures that the discussion is an illuminating experience for everyone.

Learning how to give a critique with this quality of attention guarantees that you will learn craft and technique from giving critique, not just receiving it. You will feel buoyed and supported by the commentary and discussion every week, and will learn so much more about your writing.

The opportunity to give and receive critique in this safe, structured workshop—with such intelligent, evolved writers—is rare and valuable. This is not a place for big egos, favouritism, careless commentary, or competition.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Deepen your understanding of technique and the mechanics that create beautiful, thrilling, and moving stories, and apply this knowledge to your own work
  • Mindfully describe the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of semi-polished story drafts, and become a more sophisticated reader
  • Explain craft-based revision techniques and solve story problems by exploring different ways to use dialogue, characterization, point of view, scene, and exposition
  • Recognize the potential of a story before it is polished, and then articulate what can be done in revision to bring it closer to itself
  • Illuminate your own writing habits and empower yourself to dismantle them, so you can make your story feel strong, clarified, and true.

You’ll finish the program with:

  • Connection to a small, thoughtful group of writers you can trust with your unfinished story draft.
  • A compassionate and wise writing instructor who will guide the critique of each submission carefully to make sure that all critiques are constructive, craft-focused, and helpful.
  • By articulating the strengths and weaknesses of a new story every week in a thoughtful and constructive critique, you will be teaching yourself how to write.
  • You’ll get to see your story through the eyes of six other writers, and you will learn things about your story you never knew before.
  • A community of like-minded writers who love deep, detailed, and craft-based literary conversations. This is where you can ask about a semi-colon instead of a period, point out the verbs you love and explain why you love them so much, and discuss character names and story titles, and so on. These are your people.
  • Clear instruction on how to proceed with your revision, and a special assignment to help you get started. No post-critique overwhelm! Just pure motivation.

*Bonus* Private mentorship call with me!

For this semester of The Story Workshop, I’m offering special one-on-one mentorship sessions for all graduates.

After you give and receive critique during the 8 weeks of The Story Workshop, you’ll set up an appointment with me to discuss your next steps. This is a coaching call that you can direct.

Things you might want to discuss:
  • Your writing process
  • Strategies to make time for your writing
  • Questions or insights that came up for you during the program
  • Special assignments from me, to advance your learning
  • Career and livelihood direction
Really, you can ask me anything in your one-on-one!
"The particular critiquing procedure gives it an atmosphere that's about helping and learning and not competition or ego. Also, it fills a niche that I've not been able to find anywhere else."
—Cynthia, 2016 student
THE DETAILS

Either The Story Course or The Story Intensive are suggested prerequisites for this class, with priority given to graduates of The Story Intensive. If you haven’t taken either prerequisite, you can still register, as long as you have completed the first draft of your story and feel ready for critique.

When you register, you'll be asked to fill out a questionnaire and upload a writing sample. Your sample should be approximately 1,000 words.

Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll be sent instructions on how and where to send the story you’d like to have critiqued in the workshop. All stories are due before the first day of class.

Note: your story submission could be the story that comes out of Lesson 7 of The Story Course, but it doesn’t have to be.

Workshop discussions take place within the online classroom, similar to the one we use in The Story Intensive. You’ll be sent an invitation to your classroom soon after you register.

Classes are held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week. The hours are flexible to accommodate different time zones and personal schedules.

Students are expected to read each other’s work and comment in the online forum for at least one hour each day for those three days. Give yourself time for at least two hours of solo reading and writing each week, in addition to the class window.

During the week that your story is the focus, you won’t have a story to read, but you should be prepared to spend that extra time in the classroom on Tuesday and Wednesday.


The Schedule

  • February 20 to 22 - Welcome & Introductions
  • February 27 to March 1 - Story Critique (Student A)
  • March 6 to 8 - Story Critique (Student B)
  • March 13 to 15 - Story Critique (Student C)
  • March 20 to 22 - Story Critique (Student D)
  • March 27 to 29 - Story Critique (Student E)
  • April 3 to 5 - Story Critique (Student F)
  • April 10 to 12 - Wrap-up

The Teachers

There is no application process to be a teacher for the Story Is a State of Mind School. I am particular about the writers I ask to be teachers. I trust these writers absolutely, and it’s an honour to be working with each of them. The Story Workshop instructors are all successful writers who have impressed me with their dedication and integrity. They are graduates of The Story Intensive, and all understand the resistance, practice, technique and resilience that the writing life requires. In our years of working together, these people keep teaching me new things about reading, writing, process, and pedagogy. They’re so good!

When you enroll in The Story Workshop you’ll fill out a short questionnaire about your writing. Your answers will help me choose the right teacher for you, and will help me place you in a class of like-minded writers. You may indicate a teacher preference when you enroll if you like. (This is optional. You can trust me to put you in a great workshop.)

"Enough stretching to loosen my writing muscles, enough cardio to keep me pumped up, and sufficient rest in between to allow everyone's keen insights to seep into my bones."
—Diane, 2016 student
THE DESIGN
An easy-to-use classroom space is important for easy discussion. You’ll be meeting with your class and teacher in one small e-classroom, custom designed as a secure part of the Story Is a State of Mind website. It keeps your work safe and private, and the learning environment is beautiful.

Once again, you’ll get:

  • Small discussion groups (6 writers per workshop)
  • Private online classroom and private social network
  • Instructions and guidance on how to give a constructive critique
  • Devoted instructor who will guide your discussion every week
  • Six thorough critiques on your own work, and one week of discussion dedicated to your short story
  • Two additional in-depth critiques including line edits (one from your instructor and one peer review)
  • A live class call, and time to speak to your instructor and classmates in person
  • Clear instruction on how to proceed with your revision, with an assignment to help you start right away
  • A private one-on-one call with Sarah Selecky (that’s me) when the program is finished
Once your payment is processed, you will be asked to submit a writing sample, up to 1000 words. You can send in a portion of the story that you will bring to the class, or another sample of your writing.

You’ll also be asked to fill in a short questionnaire—your answers will help me place you in the right class, with the right teacher. If you’d like to continue working with your teacher from The Story Intensive, you may mention this when you register. Or you can trust me to place you in a fantastic class.

Once your application is received, you will submit your short story draft. Register now to hold your spot in the workshop, and keep working on your story if you like. All stories are due on January 30th.

Tuition

The entire program costs $975 USD.

If you are a Story Intensive graduate, you receive a $100 scholarship, which means it will only cost $875 USD. If you’d like to receive an email with details on how to redeem your scholarship, or if you have any questions, please get in touch with us: support@storyisastateofmind.com.

We also have a payment plan. Please email us for more information.

Refund Policy
If you register and withdraw from The Story Workshop before January 30th, 2017, you are eligible to receive a 50% refund. After January 30th, there are no refunds, even if you cannot attend the class.

Questions
Find out more about The Story Workshop by referring to the Frequently Asked Questions. Still have a question? Email us at: support@storyisastateofmind.com.


FAQs About The Story Workshop


I’ve never critiqued before. How will I know how to do it?

Every writer in the workshop will receive thorough instructions on how to critique, so everyone learns to do it the same way. You will use this guide to help you through the process, step by step. Even if you’ve never written a story critique before, this will give you a solid place to start. The how-to guide helps you to read critically and present your comments within a structure. This protects all of the writers in the workshop from giving or receiving thoughtless critiques.

Expect to learn more and more about critique as you continue through the course. You’re here to learn how to critique properly—all that is required is that you come with an open mind, and be prepared to take risks. You are not expected to “get it right.” Critique can be an exhilarating process; you never stop learning from reading critically! And, of course, your teacher will be there to provide helpful questions and assistance as needed.

I’ve never taken a writing class before. Can I still join the class?

The Story Workshop is not for beginner writers. We suggest The Story Course and/or The Story Intensive as prerequisites, because the Workshop builds on important writing craft techniques that have already been practiced there in depth. If you are not a graduate of The Story Course or The Story Intensive but are an experienced writer with a completed story, you can submit an application to attend The Story Workshop.

Can I request a teacher?

Yes! You can name your preference when you register. I will do my best to place you with your first choice.


Still have a question? Email us at: support@storyisastateofmind.com.
Or get in touch with us through our Facebook page.

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