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Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Sanibel Island Writers Conference
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Tom DeMarchi, Director
Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Reed Hall 242
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565








2017 Schedule Grid





9:00-11:45: WORKSHOPS   

11:45-1:15: LUNCH BREAK (On your own)

1:15-2:30: WORKSHOPS

2:45-3:45: READING 

4:00-5:00: PANEL   

5:00-6:00: COCKTAIL HOUR







9:00-11:45: WORKSHOPS   

11:45-1:15: LUNCH BREAK (On your own)

1:15-2:30: WORKSHOPS

2:45-3:45: READING 

4:00-5:00: PANEL   

5:00-6:00: COCKTAIL HOUR







9:00-11:45: WORKSHOPS  

11:45-1:15: LUNCH BREAK (On your own)

1:15-2:30: PANEL

2:45-3:45: READING


5:00-6:00: COCKTAIL HOUR (BIG ARTS Courtyard)







9:00-11:45: WORKSHOPS  





Steve Almond, How to Craft Characters Who Snap, Crackle & Pop

BIG ARTS Schein Auditorium

Ever read or write a story where the hero just doesn’t seem to pop? I have. Like a thousand times. This workshop will focus on why some characters leap off the page while others just sit there. We’ll discuss the perils of passivity, the allure of action, and the dozens of ways to characterize that will bring your people alive.


MK Asante

BIG ARTS Classroom

We will explore the relationship between screenwriting, poetry, music and memoir. 


Andrea Askowitz, How to Write a Story to Tell Out Loud

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

Writing a story meant to be told out loud is similar to writing any story, but the storyteller should be aware that the listener only has one chance to catch the story. There’s no flipping back and re-reading.

In this workshop, students will write a first draft. It can be ugly. It can be terrible. But it must be true because the best writing starts with the truth. Then we’ll discuss ten tips for capturing the listener, keeping his or her attention, and landing each sentence, paragraph and the entire story. 

We'll discuss students’ stories in class. And we'll practice telling stories without reading. But don’t be afraid. This workshop is guaranteed to be so much fun or no money back! All levels welcome. 


Lynne Barrett, Plot & Structure

BIG ARTS Schein Auditorium

Too much plot? None at all? Confused about how to handle the past or strengthen your story? This two-session workshop will look at the elements of plot and structure and how they are related. Topics covered will include conflict, complication, resolution, active characters, movement, change, scenic development, movement, presentation of time, and narrative design. Through examples, discussion, and exercises, participants will learn strategies for assessing drafts and revising productively. Note: This class serves fiction writers and those working on memoirs, narrative nonfiction, or any dramatic form. 


Dan Bern, Songwriting

BIG ARTS Gallery

No need to have ever written a song before--Dan Bern will set free your inner song and have you warbling before you know it. Mind-expanding and a whole lot of fun. 


Kevin Canty, Plot is Character is Plot

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

“What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?” This is Henry James’s question and it is the starting point of this workshop: to examine the link between character and action, with an eye to developing both. We will steer between the Scylla of elaborate plots and paper characters and the Charybdis of interesting characters that just sit around doing nothing in an attempt to find the happy place where interesting characters do interesting things and stuff happens as a result, aka, “Plot.” 


Sloane Crosley, Voice in Narrative Nonfiction

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

This nonfiction workshop is open to students who are good at writing narrative nonfiction but maybe just don’t know it yet. This is a workshop on how finding one’s own voice is just as vital as finding one’s own topic. We will explore various examples of this, ask questions, as well as focus on specifics like how to pinpoint entry points for your writing and how to stick a landing. The end result often involves humor but we are not stand-up comedians. Humor is not a requirement.  The goal of this class will be to acquire the nonfiction storytelling skills applicable to all kinds of writing.


Eugene Cross, Screenwriting

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

This workshop will focus on writing for both TV and film. All are welcome and no prior screenwriting experience is necessary. Students will practice writing scenes and telling stories that translate to the screen. The goal will not be to complete a screen or teleplay but rather to discuss what makes for good screenwriting. Our focus will be on economy and translating our own experiences into thoughtful, captivating scenes. We'll talk character, dialogue, and story arc, and explore some classic examples in the process.      


John Dufresne, Creative Caffeine

BIG ARTS Schein Auditorium

Dufresne will lead you through a variety of prompts that'll kickstart your creativity for the day. (Fri, Sat & Sun mornings)


John Dufresne, Flash Fiction

BIG ARTS Schein Auditorium 

We’ll try to define what flash or very short fiction is, but mostly we’ll be writing like crazy trying to tell stories—from 200-1500 word stories; innovative and fresh stories—based on the provocations of forms and on our own memories and imaginations. 


Beth Ann Fennelly, Build Me a Hummingbird of Words: Tiny Texts

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly forward, backward, sideways, and, for short distances, upside down—that’s why it’s the symbol of the American Helicopter Society!  Hummingbirds can do things other birds can’t do precisely because they are so small.  In this class, we’ll look at tiny texts and learn what can be accomplished in a small space that can’t be accomplished in a bigger one.  What can we learn by radically shifting scale?  How can attention to the tiniest literary creations challenge and inspire us?  In this class I’ll suggest ten things that a writer can learn from writing word-hummingbirds such as the monostich, the 6-word memoir, the one-sentence essay, micro-memoirs, hint fiction, flash fiction, and one minute plays.  After looking at some twentieth-century examples, we’ll attempt to create one—or a few--ourselves. 


Barbara Hamby, Poetic Voice

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

Poetic voice--what is it? When you see a Dickinson poem, you know right away that only she could have written it. The same goes for Whitman, Ginsberg, Plath, Sexton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Tony Hoagland. We will look at the various elements of voice (diction/word choice, subject, line, images, verse, form, persona) and discuss how to hone your voice so your work is immediately recognizable as your own. 


Nathan Hill, X-Ray Writing: Techniques for Getting Closer to Your Characters

BIG ARTS Schein Auditorium

One of the unique joys of reading literature is that it allows us to experience what it might be like to be someone else, what it might be like to live in someone else's brain. Literature can be like an x-ray, peering past the façade and seeing all the secrets hidden underneath. This workshop will focus on ways to achieve this kind of "x-ray writing," from technical approaches like the use of the "free indirect style," to psychological approaches to help you delve into your characters' heads.


David Kirby, The Mind of a Poet

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

To write poems, first you have to think the way a poet does. This workshop will focus on the mental processes poets have used since time began and also look ahead to strategies that will keep you writing forever.


Susannah Meadows, Reporting/Creative Nonfiction

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

Our class will focus on how to write narrative non-fiction stories that aren't boring and weighed down by the facts. We'll talk about where it starts: with the reporting. The best stories are driven by great reporting, but how to get it? Reporting seems straight-forward enough but it helps to know some tricks of the trade: How do you get people to talk to you? How can you write a good scene if your source is inarticulate? What are other good sources of information? Just as crucial as getting the right reporting: deciding what to use and what to leave out. Because non-fiction stories are still stories, we'll discuss all the elements we still have to pay attention to, such as character, pacing, humor, if possible, and writing good sentences.   


Linda Oatman High, Writing to the Beat of a Different Drummer

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

Using your life to glean writing ideas and spark creativity that starts in the heart.


Michelle Richmond, Writing a Plot That Will Keep Your Readers Reading

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

Is your plot just moseying along? Has anyone told you, "This novel/story lacks urgency?" Do you worry you might be boring your reader? Whether you're writing literary fiction or a fast-paced thriller, a crime novel or a quiet coming-of-age story, you need to keep your reader engaged. In this fiction workshop, learn how to write a plot that makes readers want to buy your book, and keeps them from abandoning it halfway through. We'll talk about how to write an opening chapter that readers can't walk away from, how to pace over the long haul, and how to know when your ego is getting in the way of your story.


Megan Stielstra, Tell it to the Page and Yell it to the Sky

BIG ARTS Gallery

This workshop focuses on the personal essay and its importance in our world. We’ll start with the gut—what do you need to tell, the memories and questions that live not in your head but your bones—and then move into craft—how to tell our own stories in ways that are equally urgent to an audience.

Pulling from both literary and oral storytelling traditions, we’ll engage in a series of activities to get our stories out of the body and onto the page, encouraging risk and discovery and examining literary craft in new ways. How does telling a story aloud heighten our understanding of its movement and structure? How does the presence of an immediate audience influence the rewriting process? What the hell do we do with these things once they’re written, and how do we keep the writing going?

All are welcome, regardless of experience or genre. 


Darin Strauss, The Art of Narrative (Fiction and Nonfiction) 

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

Our class will emphasize shop talk: how to begin a story, say, and how to introduce a character. And we'll take up such questions as, “What is the relationship of plot to sub-plot? How does one hold the reader's attention?” Of course, in Art, rules must be flexible—but I ask my students to think of writing in strategic terms; each story-telling decision needs to make tactical sense. With that in mind, we'll examine—with fantastic esprit de corps and style—the tenets of the Art of Fiction. 


Frank Turner, Songwriting

BIG ARTS Gallery

Songwriting is both an art and a craft. It's hard to teach the art side of it, but you can get stuck into the craft bit, examine techniques, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and learn from the best--or in this case, little old me.


Robert Wilder, How to Write an Honest YA (or Crossover) Novel

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom

According to Publisher’s Weekly, 55% of YA books are purchased by adults. Would classics like Catcher in the Rye or To Kill A Mockingbird be considered Young Adult fiction if published today? Does any of this matter if you are trying to write a novel with a teenage protagonist? In this workshop, we will discuss how to approach writing for and about teens. In addition to writing exercises to further our own work, we will also look at a variety of YA authors whose fiction appeals to a wide range of readers. 




Steve Almond, Small Group Manuscript Workshop--Fiction 

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom 1

Almond and a group of six students will meet to give and receive feedback on manuscripts that they read in advance. Requires preregistration, an extra fee, and pre-submitted manuscripts.


Andrea Askowitz, Small Group Manuscript Workshop--Creative Nonfiction

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom 2

Askowitz and a group of six students will meet to give and receive feedback on manuscripts that they read in advance. Requires preregistration, an extra fee, and pre-submitted manuscripts.


Keith Kopka, Small Group Manuscript Workshop--Poetry

BIG ARTS Upstairs Classroom 3

Kopka and a group of six students will meet to give and receive feedback on manuscripts that they read in advance. Requires preregistration, an extra fee, and pre-submitted manuscripts.



Lynne Barrett, Alicia Clancy, Lisa Gallagher, Christopher Schelling, Nicole Tourtelot,  Acceptance and Rejection: What Agents, Editors, & Publishers Want. And Don't Want 

BIG ARTS Schein Hall

So you've revised your manuscript 56 times and feel certain that your story/poem/essay/novel/memoir/collection is finally--finally!--ready for publication. Where do you send your manuscript? How do you approach the agent/editor/publisher? Do you really need a literary agent? How much editing does an editor actually do? Is it better to publish excerpts of a longer manuscript in magazines and journals first, before trying to publish an entire book? How do you know if a publisher is right for you? And why, after all these revisions, do you keep getting rejected? Panelists will offer answers to these and other questions. 


Andrea Askowitz, Dean Davis, Megan Stielstra and Karen Tolchin, True Obsessions: A Storytelling Event

BIG ARTS Schein Hall 

True stories followed by a panel discussion. What does it mean to break apart your life and reassemble it as art? Your mother might hang on your every word, finding such banalities as your choice of breakfast cereal riveting, but what stories would a stranger stop to hear from beginning to end? Find out what drives these seasoned storytellers--teachers, writers, and performers all--and get their best advice on how to bring your own stories to life in front of an audience.  


Steve Almond, Dan Bern and Keith Kopka, Rage Is a Red Lesson: On the Artistic Uses of Anger

BIG ARTS Scheinn Hall 

Steve Almond will interview Dan Bern and Keith Kopka about art & politics, the history of protest music, the responsibilities and pitfalls. Expect Dan to respond in song.