Writing Workshops, Retreats, Mentoring

Blue Heron Writing Courses for Spring 2012

The Fundamental Novelist

with James Dewar

Small Wonders (Writing Short Stories)

with Susan Lynn Reynolds

The Fundamental Novelist

The Essential Elements of Publishable Book-Length Storytelling

This 10 week workshop provides writers with the essential elements of publishable book-length story telling.

The arc of the classes begins with an analysis of the key stepping stones. Participants will:

  • – define the overarching dramatic question that their novel will answer
  • – learn how to keep characters intriguing so that readers will care what happens to them
  • – interweave themes to keep the story consistent and interesting
  • – apply scene building techniques that will keep the novel riveting and ensure every scene is a keeper
  • – select the ideal voice for the story teller
  • – analyse the value of point(s) of view in the story
  • – develop ways to maintain consistency throughout the novel timelines

While participants investigate and refine these storytelling fundamentals, the workshop will simultaneously encourage the parallel process of getting the novel in front of an interested agent or publisher. Participants will:

  • – prepare a convincing pitch
  • – draft an engaging query letter
  • – finalize the first 20 pages of the story
  • – practice pitching their story to each other and in front of a knowledgeable panel.

The author who has written the best story and displayed ingenuity in the related aspects of novel promotion, as identified by the Blue Heron panel, will be forwarded to Adrienne Kerr, Chief Acquisitions Editor at Penguin Books, for consideration.

Wednesday Nights, starting February 29, 2012, 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Click here to register


James Dewar has been the publisher and chief editor of Piquant Press (www.piquantpress.ca) since he started the company in 2009. It specializes in publishing poetry, non-fiction and short story collections. He has previously edited and published ten chapbooks for emerging talents through CreativeJames Publishing and co-edited three poetry anthologies. As a freelance magazine editor for Metroland Newspaper Group, he has extensive experience in editing, magazine layout and design. He teaches writing and performance workshops, including the year-long workshop with Sue Reynolds, A Novel Approach, that guides writers to complete a novel or memoir in one year. His poetry has been published in The Garden in the Machine (2007) and several anthologies and literary journals. He is President of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (www.wcdr.ca). For more information about James and his workshops, including the writing retreats that he and Sue Reynolds offer, please visit www.inkslingers.ca.

Click here to register


Small Worlds (Writing Short Stories)

with Susan Lynn Reynolds

Writing Short Stories

Short stories are still one of the best ways to break into the literary publishing market. This course will focus on the particularities of this literary genre. Character development, narrative structure, story arc and plot construction will be explored by weekly readings of published short stories, as well as by participating in writing assignments.

Week by week, participants will be working on short stories of various lengths. By the end of the course, writers will have created three short stories with a view towards submitting them for publication or to short story contests. Participants will also have one of the stories produced during the course published in the course anthology.

The best writing in the short story class as chosen by the Blue Heron Selection Panel, will be forwarded to editor Adrienne Kerr at Penguin Canada for personal feedback and consideration.

Course fee includes a copy of the text.

Starts March 6, 2012. Tuesday nights from 7:00 to 9:30

Click here to register


Susan Lynn Reynolds is a writer and an accredited writing instructor in the Amherst Writers and Artists method. She is past president of the WCDR and current vice-president of the national organization Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP).

Her novel Strandia won the Canadian Library Association’s national Young Adult Novel of the Year award, and she won the Timothy Findley Creative Writing Prize three years in a row for her short stories and poetry. Her area of specialty is the therapeutic use of journaling and memoir, and her thesis on that topic received the Canadian Psychological Association’s Award of Academic Excellence in 2006.

She has been leading writing workshops for female inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for seven years, a program for which she received the 2007 June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism for that program.

She and her partner James Dewar run a freelance writing and web design business, and teach creative writing in a number of freelance workshops, at Durham College, and in their year long course A NOVEL APPROACH where participants take one year to write their book length novels or memoirs.

Click here to register

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