March Critical Reading Workshop

Spring is just around the corner and so is the March Critical Reading Workshop! Join us at the Capital Club on March 15th at 7pm to discuss Michael Chabon’s Werewolves in Their Youth. This story can be found online here and by searching for “Werewolves in Their Youth Full Text.”

Each month, the reading workshop meets to read the work of a published author from a writer’s perspective, breaking down what makes the story work and why. It’s one of the best ways you can improve as a writer. Never been to a workshop? Check out our FAQ.

This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. The Capital Club is located on the lobby floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel on South Front Street. Get more details in this ancient blog post.

Check back next week when we’ll be posting discussion questions for you to mull over before the meetup.

Questions? Comments? Got a story you’d love to discuss? Send them to the workshop moderator at heather@ohiowriters.org. See you there!

Murakami Reading Workshop Tonight!

Hope you all had a mushy Valentine’s Day, but it’s time to get cerebral again. Join us tonight at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club for our critical reading workshop. We’re reading Haruki Murakami’s The Kangaroo Communique. You may rightly ask how we’ve made it this far into our workshop without reading Murakami. I can only say I’m sorry.

Below are some discussion questions to think about while you read. If you don’t have time to read the story (It’s really short, but you’re really busy!) no worries. Come anyway and bask in Murakami’s beautiful prose. He will never disappoint you.

Hope to see you tonight. This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. See you at 7.

Questions? Comments? Contact the workshop moderator at heather@ohiowriters.org

The Kangaroo Communique Discussion Questions

  1. This story doesn’t have a central plot–what’s offered instead and how does the author keep the reader engaged?
  2. One of the things that the story offers in lieu of a plot is narrative twists and tangents–which was the most effective to you and why?
  3. This could easily have been like the sort of thing you write in high school to show how smart you are. What elevates it?
  4. “Aspiring to incompleteness” seems like a phrase that deconstructs itself, or, at the least, is recursive–how does the story reflect this?
  5. The story’s second character (the complainer) is filtered absolutely through the narrator–did you feel that the complainer was well developed? If so, how is this accomplished? How does the author make the complainer a part of the story, even though she is not present?
  6. One of the story’s “twists” is that you discover that it’s being narrated on tape–how did that impact your perception of the story and the narrative voice? What did this add to the story and what effect does the timing of this revelation have?

Reading Workshop February 15th

Did you miss us? We missed you! The reading workshop is back. Join us next Wednesday, February 15th at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club downtown. We’re reading Haruki Murakami’s The Kangaroo Communiqueand talking about how to construct great short fiction.

Each month, the reading workshop meets to read the work of a published author from a writer’s perspective, breaking down what makes the story work and why. It’s one of the best ways you can improve as a writer. Never been to a workshop? Check out our FAQ. Then join us on February 15 at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club downtown.

This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. The Capital Club is located on the lobby floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel on South Front Street. Get more details in this ancient blog post.

Questions? Comments? Got a story you’d love to discuss? Send them to the workshop moderator at heather@ohiowriters.org. See you there!

No Reading Workshop in November or December

Fellow readers,

There will be no reading workshop in November or December. This should give you plenty of time to finish that short story and get it submitted to the writing workshop with time left over for brining, roasting, thanksgiving, wassailing, gift-giving, etc.

If you have suggestions for stories you’d like to read or topics you’d like to cover in future critical reading workshops, send your suggestions to heather@ohiowriters.org.

We hope to see you in the new year!

 

Reading Workshop Discussion Questions: Creative Nonfiction

It’s decorative gourd season! Time to curl up next to the woodstove, grab your pumpkin spice latte, and write that brilliant essay you’ve been dreaming about all year. Before you begin, you’ll want to join us this Wednesday, October 12 for our critical reading workshop. We’re reading Joan Didion’s classic essay “Goodbye to All That” and talking about strategies for writing great creative nonfiction: memoir, personal essay, and more.

“Goodbye to All That” begins:

“It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and the second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was.”

Hooked? Me too. You can read “Goodbye to All That” many places online, or grab your copy of Slouching Towards Bethlehem or the anthology named after this essay: Goodbye to All That: Writer’s on Loving and Leaving New York.

Below are some discussion questions to get you started. Then join us Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club downtown. Get directions here.

As always, this event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. Never been to a workshop? Check out our FAQ, or contact the workshop moderator (heather@ohiowriters.org) with questions or comments. See you there!

 

“Goodbye to All That” Discussion Questions

  1. The thing that separates creative nonfiction (CNF) from journalism is its use of storytelling elements. CNF uses character, setting, dialogue, imagery, and theme. “Goodbye to All That” also follows a classic plot structure with conflict, rising action, climax and resolution. Pinpoint these elements and mark them as you read. How does “GtAT” follow the rules of fiction? How does it break the rules?
  2. “GtAT” is a memoir in which Didion explores a part of her true past. This creates two versions of Didion on the page: the author who is writing the essay, and the past version of the author who lives and acts within the story. How do these two separate characters relate to each other? How does the Joan Didion who narrates the story change our view of her past self?
  3. On the first read, Didion appears to be “telling” rather than “showing” in much of this essay. It can be hard to identify a single scene as she moves seamlessly from scene to reflection and back again. This is Didion’s signature style, but it breaks the supposedly inviolable rule, “Show Don’t Tell.” How does she get away with it? Try to pinpoint those transitions where Didion moves from telling to showing.

October Reading Workshop: Creative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction is a slippery genre that includes memoir, literary journalism, personal essays, and more. It’s also one of the fastest growing genres on the market. We’ll talk about the rules for writing creative nonfiction—what they are, when to follow them, and when to break them—at the critical reading workshop on October 12.

We’re reading Joan Didion’s landmark essay “Goodbye to All That.” Originally published in 1967, Didion’s essay is both a love letter and a farewell to New York City, which she abandoned in her late twenties for the west coast.

You can read “Goodbye to All That” a thousand places online. Better yet, grab a copy of her iconic essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem for a rush of creative inspiration and ’sixties cool.

We’ll post discussion questions next week to get you started. Then join us on October 12 at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club downtown to figure out how to turn your true story into a great piece of writing. This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend.

Never been to a critical reading workshop? Check out our FAQ, or contact the workshop moderator with questions or comments. Hope to see you there!

Reading Workshop Tonight!

The reading workshop is tonight! Join us at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club. We’re reading “Frankenstein’s Daughter” by Maureen McHugh, and discussing strategies for writing the sci-fi short story.

If you’re late to the party, you can still grab an e-book. Find “Frankenstein’s Daughter” in McHugh’s collection Mothers & Other Monsters or the fantastic anthology The Secret History of Science Fiction, which includes work by authors Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, T.C. Boyle, and others.

Here are some discussion questions to think about while you read. If you’ve never been to a workshop, check out our FAQ.  Even if you haven’t read the story, feel free to come talk and listen and scope things out. We won’t put you on the spot.

This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. Get directions here. Hope you can join us!

 

Reading Workshop Discussion Questions: Writing the Sci-Fi Short Story

Join us this Wednesday, September 14 at 7 p.m. for the critical reading workshop. We’re reading “Frankenstein’s Daughter” by Maureen McHugh and discussing strategies for writing the sci-fi short story.

You can find “Frankenstein’s Daughter” in McHugh’s collection Mothers & Other Monsters or the anthology The Secret History of Science Fiction.

This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. We’ll meet at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club. Get directions here.

Never been to a reading workshop? Check out our FAQ, and feel free to contact the workshop moderator with any questions.

World-Building Discussion Questions

This week’s theme is world-building, which could perhaps be described as the process of establishing the “rules” of the world in which your story takes place and exploring their consequences. “Frankenstein’s Daughter” takes place in a world very similar to our own, with one key exception—human cloning is in its nascent stages. Questions for discussion:

  • Since the world of Frank’s daughter is so close to our own, how does the author “world build” using the familiar? Is this effective?
  • How did you feel about the way in which this world’s one divergent rule is revealed? Did it contribute to the story’s rising tension or detract? Did the author do an adequate job of laying the foundation for this revelation, or was it jarring?
  • What were some of the themes in this story (or recurring images)  and how do they reflect or stem from this story’s “world”?
  • Similarly, does this world’s rule drive the plot or the drama or does it merely “hold” it?
  • Since the world-building is so minimal, what drives this story and how does that interact with the world-building when we reach it?
  • How does the author use the story’s one rule and its consequences to develop the story’s characters? Do you find the use of “unfamiliar consequences” to be effective or jarring?

September Reading Workshop: Writing the Sci-Fi Short Story

World-building is hard enough for fiction writers when you have a few hundred pages to do it. What if you only have a handful? Let’s make it even more fun: What if the world you are building is one completely unknown to your reader?

The sci-fi short story is like a well-oiled, world-building machine. It takes a few thousand words, creates an entire world, and tells an engaging story to boot. How do writers do it?

Join us on Wednesday, September 14 for the next critical reading workshop. We’re reading “Frankenstein’s Daughter” by Maureen McHugh, and discussing strategies for writing the sci-fi short story.

You can find “Frankenstein’s Daughter” in McHugh’s collection Mothers & Other MonstersIf you’re looking for a crash course in sci-fi short stories, you can also find it in a fantastic anthology, The Secret History of Science Fiction, which includes work by authors Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, T.C. Boyle, and others.

Check back here before the workshop, and we’ll post some discussion questions to get you started. Never been to a critical reading workshop? Check out our FAQ.

Then join us Wednesday, September 14 at the Capital Club downtown. You’ll have that sci-fi short finished in no time.

Questions or comments? Contact the workshop moderator. Hope to see you there!

 

Reading Workshop Tonight!

The reading workshop is tonight! Join us at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club—we’re reading George Saunders’ story “Home” and discussing strategies for developing great plots.

If you don’t have a copy of Tenth of December, you can grab an ebook here or read “Home” on the New Yorker website. Here are some discussion questions to think about while you read.

If you’ve never been to a workshop, check out our FAQ.  Even if you haven’t read the story, feel free to come talk and listen and scope things out. We won’t put you on the spot.

This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. Get directions here, and contact the workshop moderator with any questions. Hope you can join us!