MWPA winter workshops include Midcoast

Jan 17, 2014

Through March, the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance will offer a series of new writings workshops in towns across Maine including Belfast and Rockland. The workshop topics include fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and more.

Writing Like An Actor in Rockland

Author Pope Brock will lead a workshop on Writing Like An Actor Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rockland Public Library, 80 Union St. Cost is $125, $65 for MWPA members; deadline to apply for the Dibner Fellowship is 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 27.

Actors and playwrights know wonderful things about storytelling not often considered by fiction writers. The goal of this workshop is to show how applying elements of craft from the theater can add depth and strength to novels and stories.

Well-trained actors do not come onstage to feel or behave; rather, they arrive onstage to do, and dialogue is their primary tool to try to get what they want. With this in mind, the workshop will begin by focusing on creating dialogue that is always geared, however subtly, to overcoming obstacles and achieving a goal — dialogue as action. From there the workshop will open out into an even more elegant principle — how the use of objectives can help the writer discover character. Looking at fiction writing through the lens of acting can help demystify the writing process, and it can help writers discover all sorts of new things about the characters they’re creating.

Brock is the author of “Indiana Gothic,” the story of the murder of his great-grandfather; and “Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him and the Age of Flim Flam,” named by New York Times critic Janet Maslin as one of the 10 best books of 2008. He has written for many publications including Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone and People and has been a longtime contributor to the London Sunday Times Magazine. He teaches fiction and nonfiction at the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA program.

The Story Inside the Story in Belfast

Author Susan Conley will explore Finding the Story Inside the Story Saturday, March 15, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Belfast Free Library, 106 High St. Cost is $25, $75 for MWPA members; deadline to apply for the Dibner Fellowship is 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24.

This workshop will address many questions: How do we write memoir that transcends its basic machinery and achieves lift off? How do we banish the censor to arrive at emotional breakthroughs in our work? How do we structure our memoirs to allow us to tell the story we most want to tell? Not the outer casing — the obvious surface story — but what lies buried, the beating heart of a story … the story inside the story?

Conley’s 2013 novel “Paris Was the Place” traces the intersection of the lives of an American poetry teacher and six teenage refugee girls all living in Paris during the late 1980s. Her memoir “The Foremost Good Fortune,” which follows the years her family lived in Beijing and encountered cancer, won the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her poetry collection was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Breadloaf Writers Conference, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. Conley is on the faculty at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program and also teaches at Colby College. She’s the co-founder of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing lab in Portland.

Among the other workshops statewide is one led by Belfast poet Arielle Greenberg on Free Range Poetry Saturday, March 8, at Damariscotta’s downtown Skidompha Library. For more information on all the workshops, descriptions, instructor biographies, registration fees and scholarships, visit; call 228-8263; or email

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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