FUNDAMENTALS OF FICTION (and MEMOIR!)
WRITE IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
September 10-17, 2016
We'll stay seven nights, and six full days in the charming Catalonian town of Ceret. It's nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees and the sparkling Mer Mediterranée is a mere 34 kilometers away. We love this town with its medieval walls and giant plane trees, its modern art museum and bustling Saturday market, its bakeries and bistros. We also love the region, famous for wine, seafood, ruined castles and artists of the early 20 century.
Every morning we’ll meet from 9:30 to 12:30 for the “class” portion of the experience – a basic workshop format of mini-lectures from Debbie and Charlotte, in-class writing exercises, and discussion of the pieces each of you will submit. (Yes, we will give you writing assignments at the end of class each day. Even in paradise, there is work to be done.) We'll also assign a book or two for you to read ahead of time. In class we'll discuss how the assigned books use our fundamentals.
We’ll have a group cocktail hour (with optional writerly talk) each day at around 6:00, so from 12:30 till then you can eat, write and explore as you wish. Time permitting, we may organize an optional side trip or two to nearby points of interest. The region is rich with Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, magnificent mountains, beaches, vineyards, and vistas painted by Matisse or Dérain or Soutine.
Day One Saturday September 10: Arrive in Céret and settle in. The train from either Paris or Barcelona stops in nearby Perpignan; we can assemble there and drive down to Céret together. We'll spend Saturday getting acclimated and getting to know each other, with a festive dinner in town or at home, depending on the group's choice.
Day Two Sunday, September 11: Character is a great place to start. Who is the protagonist, the antagonist? Secondary characters? Names, ages, living situations and backstories. What are their motives, problems, excuses, wants and needs? How will they drive the action?
Day Three Monday, September 12: This day we’ll work on setting. – the where and when or your work. “Writer after writer will tell you that setting fuels the drive to write.” Janet Burroway, in Imaginative Writing. How do you build a set? How does the setting function in the narrative?
Day Four Tuesday, September 13: Story and Plot. You need something to hang it all on, so today we’ll explore structure. And help you create the framework for your story. Is plot the same as story – and does it matter? How do you string a bunch of events together to make a cohesive whole?
Day Five Wednesday, September 14: Scene. The basic building block of your book. What is a scene? When should you use a scene and when should you use summary or exposition? How best to construct a scene?
Day Six Thursday, September 15: Point of view, voice, tone. Who is speaking? Whose head are we in? Who observes and relates the action of the story? How does point of view affect voice and tone? We shall discuss!
Day Seven Friday, September 16: Tension, suspense, narrative drive. We will divulge the secret to creating tension and narrative drive. Yes, there is one! Master this and you’ll be on your way to a page-turning story.
Day Eight Saturday, September 17: Time to leave. Unless you’d rather stay! In past years, several students have opted to spend another week in whatever little piece of paradise we've chosen. If you'd like to stay an extra week in Céret in 2016, please let us know immediately so we can discuss housing.
Other Details: The price is $1900 if you reserve before December 31 , 2015; after that it goes up to $1975. We require a $300 deposit on registration and complete payment by May 31, 2016. The program is limited to eight participants. If your spouse or partner wants to come along, there will be a small additional charge. The price of the program covers lodging, tuition, and breakfast. Lunch and dinner are flexible. We anticipate a mix of meals at home and in restaurants.
Debbie Guyol (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches creative writing in the Mature Learning Program at Clark College, where she has inspired scores of students since 2002 and edited an anthology of student writing called Elderberry Wine Vintage 2010. Debbie is also a lawyer who has practiced in New York City and Portland. She is the co-author of The Complete Guide to Contract Lawyering, as well as articles for legal publications. Her co-authored book Pride and Prejudice and Kitties was published by Skyhorse Publishing in April 2013.
Charlotte Rains Dixon (email@example.com), a writer and writing coach, teaches at the Writer’s Loft in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Room to Write at the Scarritt Bennett center in Nashville. Charlotte has also ghostwritten over a dozen books on diverse topics. Among her work-for-hire projects are The Complete Guide to Writing Successful Fundraising Letters, Beautiful America’s Oregon, and Beautiful America’s Wyoming. Her long list of magazine credits includes pieces for Vogue Knitting, The Oregonian and Stepping Out Magazine. Her MFA in Creative Writing is from Spalding University. Charlotte’s novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, was published by Vagabondage Press in February 2013. Visit her site for more.
TESTIMONIALS – our students have loved our previous sojourns in France – Céret in September 2013, Pézenas in September 2014, Collioure in September 2015. The writing was good too.
Renee Soasey says: “Debbie and Charlotte have a way of nudging and nurturing writers to new horizons, and they create an atmosphere of camaraderie into the bargain. I felt each of us at the workshop in Céret made real progress in our writing goals – and we had so much fun doing it! The town of Céret and our wonderful accommodations made a charming backdrop to indulge in not only writing, but fabulous wine and food topped off with laughter and friendly conversation. I can't wait to do it again!”
Jenni Gainsborough says: “Céret was the perfect place for a writing retreat – so different from home, fascinating in its culture and history, it sparked creativity. Yet the beauty of its setting and its tranquil pace of life made it easy to focus on writing. And when I needed a break there was so much to see and enjoy and be reinspired by. The camaraderie of the group added so much – listening to other people’s work was inspiring and their interest in and insightful comments about my writing were so helpful and encouraging. And we had fun! Leisurely dinners with wine and conversation flowing freely were our reward for days of hard work.”
Albert Bouffard joined us all three years: “The Let’s Go Write experience in France last summer, with its collegial and congenial spirit, enriched me, and I have no doubt, all the participants. The writing almost palpably improved; acquaintances became friends; and entrenched habits broke open, as we bumped up against another cultural and linguistic tradition. Not a bad thing for writers. And I can't forget the good food, excellent cooks and the waiters and waitresses who so often entertained us with un sens de l'humour. As my six year old grand daughter would say: ‘How cool is that, Papa!’”
AND THEY LOVE US!
“Charlotte is warm, personable, and real. Her ideas work.” Zan Marie Steadham
“Charlotte treated my ideas with as much love and respect as if they were her own.” Holly-Marie St. Pierre
“Debbie knows her subject and teaches it with love, warmth and enthusiasm.” Herb Stokes
“Debbie’s classes are inspirational, educational and a lot of fun.” Helen Cartales Questions?
Contact Debbie: firstname.lastname@example.org Charlotte: email@example.com