Self Stories writing workshops

Week Course Outlines

Use this section each week along with the writer handouts. The times, discussion topics, concepts and devices are included as suggestions only. Sessions should last 60 or 90 minutes, depending on the availability and interest of participants and locations. With 90-minute sessions, plan to include one 10-minute break at the halfway point if needed.  Also, try to schedule the workshop so there are no breaks, such as holidays, which would require to miss a week.  It is easy for participants to lose momentum if there are numerous cancellations or changes to the schedule.

At the start of each session, ask about the writing assignment for that week.  How did it go? Was it easy or difficult to get started? Was is easy or difficult to think of what to write about? Ask if anyone who would like to read their piece out loud, but respect the fact that some people might not be comfortable doing so. Always allow the participants to make the choice about whether to share their stories or not. While people are reading their work, it is helpful to jot down notes about each piece so you can recall specific moments during the group discussion.

After a volunteer has read his or her piece, start by asking for that person to tell a bit about why they wrote that particular story. Be sure to open the floor for group discussion as well.  Start with by saying something like, “What comments do you have about this piece?”  Obviously, the point is to be positive and encouraging rather than overly critical.  It  can be helpful to ask the group questions such as “What do you all think about the title?” or “What did you think about the descriptions?”  These can be ways to bring in discussion about specifics of the story.  Avoid having the group ask prying questions that are related to the piece that was written such as why the writer stayed in a troubled marriage or other overly personal details that aren’t relevant.

Workshop Overview

Session One: Introduction and First-Person Memoirs

Session Two: First-Person Memoirs

Session Three: First-Person Memoirs and Introduction to Letters

Session Four: Letters and Introduction to Poetry

Session Five: Poetry and Introduction to Third-Person Narratives

Session Six: Third-Person Narratives and Using Different Literary Forms

Session Seven: Using Different Literary Forms and Introduction to Revising

Session Eight: Where to Go From Here