The Story Spot

Spring 2012

Registration opens May 1, 2012
Course offerings subject to change.
Venues, schedule, and fees to come.


Some of us have extraordinary stories to tell. Others are compelled to convey the quiet particulars that make up an everyday life. These reasons and countless more compel us to share our experiences in story form.

Whether kept in journal, blog, diary, or notebook format, the written events of our lives are often not intrinsically shaped to create compelling reading. Through group discussion and in-class exercises, this course will explore how to take the raw material of life experience and shape it into a story that will keep readers interested from beginning to end.


Creative expression is fed by our senses. Storytelling—whether visually, textually, or orally shared-- is how we bring our personal, sensory experiences to the world.

This session will allow participants to experience, filter, and translate a variety of sensory experiences into vibrant story elements. This is a cross-disciplinary class involving visual tactile, and aural media.


Everyone really does have a story to tell. Perhaps you’ve wanted to tell your own but don’t know where to start. Perhaps you’ve begun (several times) but keep getting stuck in the enormity of it all. Maybe you’ve kept a journal or blog and now want to try your hand at publication. You may have a video diary you want to share or a monologue you'd like to perform.

This session is intended to give those new to storytelling, whether in one’s native language or not, the confidence and tools to put words to page, image to screen, and share your voice out loud. Session participants will leave with the tools to shape one of their own stories into a piece they may confidently share.


In this session, we will discuss ways to share your stories with the world by taking advantage of all that digital media have to offer. From the basics of blogging to more innovative outlets such as interactive apps, we will explore avenues that will let your stories take digital flight.


Introducing characters to our readers can be a tricky business. Conveying their physical presence sometimes trickier. When walking the line between frugality and specificity, how do we stay true to our characters and get the job done?

This session will closely examine works that employ a range of approaches to character introduction. Through group exploration, we'll look at the effects that are achieved with each technique, discuss how they serve the piece as a whole, and discuss which method, if any, we might borrow for our own stories. Storytellers of all forms and genres are welcome.


Have an explosive idea for a film? Think you can do better than the latest summer blockbuster or indie sensation? This session will gently introduce you to valuable tips that will set you on your way to the glory that is rightfully yours.

From FADE IN to the final, unforgettable scene, we will look at the essentials of cinematic storytelling on the page. Writers will leave with working guidelines for finishing a rough draft and the tools to evaluate their concept’s suitability for production. This session is intended for writers new to writing for the screen.


Every storyteller is engaged in the ongoing definition of The Voice. Readers choose favorite authors and works not only based on content but on style. Moviegoers connect with the filmmaker's voice. Lyricists reach listeners by sharing themselves musically. But what is narrative style? How is voice defined and how do we know when we have successfully created a unique and compelling presence?

In this course, we will examine a selection of short works of fiction, creative non-fiction, film, and song with an eye towards identifying the characteristics of the work that combine to create the amorphous concept known as Voice. Through in-class exercises, session participants will apply the identified techniques to their own work. Storytellers of all forms and genres are welcome. Bring a maximum of five manuscript pages for personal in-session exercises.


Short fiction varies in subject, tone, and length but what makes a short story complete? In this course, we will examine the essential elements of successful short fiction, discuss the goals and challenges of writing in this form, and participate in exercises to develop material for one short story.


Adaptation for the screen is one of the most challenging forms of writing. Whether adapting one’s own work or someone else’s story, there are special considerations involved in translating a written work to a visual one.

In this session, we will explore the world of film adaptation through discussion of popular examples. Session writers will adapt a short story in class and leave with basic tools for evaluating whether a work might be reasonably adapted for the screen. This session is intended for beginning screenwriters and story editors.


When was the last time a novel or a memoir kept you up all night because you had to read just one more chapter? Across the genres, authors employ some essential techniques to keep you, the reader, turning the pages.

In this session, we'll look at some of the common elements that gripping narratives of several types share so we might look at our own work with a more critical eye. Through in-class exercises, we will discover ways to create and sustain interest on the sentence-level and throughout a lengthier work. Writers of all forms and genres are welcome.


If you cringe at the thought of digging into a rewrite, this session is for you. Inspiration is glorious but true genius comes from the crafting of the words, the shaping of the sentences and the elevating of themes and imagery often buried during a rough draft.

In this session, we will discuss approaches to tackling rough drafts. Session writers will leave with tools that match their individual working styles. Writers of all forms and genres are welcome.


Reading is the pleasurable activity that, for many, inspired us to write. But how does the act of reading a novel or memoir for pleasure differ from the active, attentive practice of reading employed by writers? This course will offer practical insight into some analytical strategies used to get more from the text. Whether it's fiction or creative non-fiction, learn how to read in order to enhance your own work.


The literary marketplace has changed dramatically since the days of yore. No longer can authors reasonably expect to be taken under the wing of a tweedy editor at a dusty publishing house, groomed for years, collecting advances all the while dreading the forthcoming all-expenses-paid worldwide book tour. Nope. Today’s authors are expected to come to the party as an attractive, knowledgeable package complete with fan-base, multiple manuscripts, and a plan.

This session will detail some of the ways a new or established fiction, creative non-fiction or memoir author might round out their introverted selves to tastefully and professionally stand apart from the huddled literary masses.


The digital age has arrived and with it, a new ease of publication for writers wishing to share their work with the world. This session will provide an overview of the digital book landscape including eReading devices, online bookstores, publishing options and a brief primer on how to go public.

We will discuss the practicalities and concerns of writers wishing to digitally publish because just because we can click upload, does not mean our manuscripts are ready for their close-up. If you want your work to shine in the increasingly crowded digital marketplace, this session is for you. Writers of all forms and genres are welcome.


Writers write for many reasons. Sometimes, we write in order to be read. In this session, we will cover the basics of getting your words into the hands of the eager reading public.

Topics covered include manuscript preparation, industry expectations, editors, managers, and agents, as well as your responsibilities as a professional writer bringing new work to market. Writers of all forms and genres are welcome.


An intensive workshop environment where pre-submitted manuscripts are discussed by the group over two sessions.

Master classes are held in two 3-hour sessions to allow for revisions and further discussion.

Session size is limited.


Artists see the world through the lenses of perception. Often, when exhibiting one’s work, the artist is called upon to create a statement to accompany the piece. Bundling vision, emotion, experience, spontaneity, intent, and all else into a few paragraphs is a tall order.

In this session, participants will be guided step-by-step as they shape artists’ statements to accompany their own artistic work. Artwork is not needed in-session.


Often the best gifts given are those that are so uniquely personal that they cannot be duplicated. This workshop will guide you in creating a one-of-a-kind gift that only you can create: we will craft a short work of prose to be bound and presented in a handmade book.

Day one of the workshop will focus on the generation and refinement of the short piece of prose you want to give. Day two will be spent making a simple and attractive presentation for the work. This workshop is suited to all writers, aspiring to expert.


These sessions are for storytellers of all levels: from those looking to add knowledge to their bag of tricks to seasoned pros those looking for a craft refresher that will give their mojo the kick in the pants it needs. Session participants write short stories, lyrics, perform spoken word, work in advertising telling brand stories, teach high school history, keep family tree blogs, and more. We are anyone and everyone who has a story to share.

Session participants are young and young-at-heart. We represent many nations, cultures, and perspectives. Our experiences and lives are broadly varied. To honour all storytellers, our environment is one of mutual respect and literary safety. All session participants are expected to uphold this standard.


“Storytelling is one of the most personal gifts one can give. It comes from the core of who we are in the world. As a facilitator and guide, it is my desire to walk with each storyteller I encounter, side-by-side, as one small part of their journey. I believe that we can each learn ways of looking within as a means to harness our talents. When we are able to identify our beliefs, observations, and experiences, we are better able to articulate them. I have made it my life’s work to continue to improve upon my own abilities and to share my knowledge so we may all tell our stories as we desire.

If you would like a session that addresses your particular needs and don't see it here, just ask.”

-- Diane J. Wright, founder of The Story Spot


  • All sessions listed are 3 hours in duration with one mid-session break unless otherwise noted.
  • Sessions begin promptly at the time noted. Please arrive at least 15 minutes earlier to prepare.
  • Session fees will be collected at the door. Session fees vary and are payable in cash or via Eventbrite.
  • Participants are to bring their own writing supplies and equipment.
  • Work will not be critiqued nor “workshopped” unless expressly stated in the session description.
  • Check with individual venues to determine if food and/or beverages are permitted in the learning environment.
  • Sessions are limited to participants who have reached their 16th birthday. Please make childcare arrangements.
  • All sessions are lead by a mentor who has earned a minimum of three publication or production credits. See mentors’ bios for details.

Storytelling Sessions Inquiries

Registration opens May 1, 2012.

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 The Art of the Short Story Author! Author! Cinematic Storytelling Digital Storytelling EBook Publishing 101 Exploring Voice Getting Started Introducing Characters Keeping the Pages Turning Master Class in Short Fiction My First Screenplay Reading for Writers So You Want to Publish Story as Gift Storytelling from the Senses Writing From Your Life Writing is Rewriting Writing the Artist's Statement

Other Areas of Interest or Additional Notes