Tuesdays from 6–8 p.m., August 6–20, 2024

The Who & the Where: Characterization & Setting

This three-part class hosted by Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance will explore how different modes of characterization and a more nuanced sense of place add depth and meaning to fiction and nonfiction. We’ll also discuss how these aspects of prose narrative relate to other elements of story: scene writing, summary narration, exposition, & interiority.

Class #1 will focus on how character motivation and desire impact action; using appearance to characterize; and indirect methods of characterization (through a narrator or other characters—critical in nonfiction!).

Class #2 will focus on writing effective dialogue and the different functions of dialogue in scenes.

Class #3 will explore setting, or more accurately, sense of place, which Rebecca Solnit describes as “…the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.”

Through a series of targeted craft discussions and real-time writing exercises, participants will learn to:

  • Develop rich, engaging characters using a variety of approaches.
  • Sharpen dialogue writing skills to contribute to character development, reveal emotional subtext, and further the action in a story.
  • Create a clear sense of place that grounds your story in a vivid world.

Register here:

Wednesdays from 6–8 p.m., October 2–November 6, 2024

Narrative Elements, Part 1: Scene Writing

It’s almost impossible to tell a compelling story without scenes. And yet many writers (fiction and non) aren’t clear about how this most essential building block of narrative prose works. The result: drafts in which the action is unclear; stories that fail to gather momentum; and events that don’t carry enough emotional weight.

Learning to write effective scenes will transform your stories and your writing process. And improving your existing skills can make the difference between a draft and a finished story—particularly for writers grappling with a memoir or a novel.

Drawing on Sandra Scofield’s essential craft primer, THE SCENE BOOK—among other texts—Narrative Elements Part 1, Scene Writing is a six-week online class comprised of targeted craft discussions and real-time writing exercises that will ensure readers are in the moment with your narrator or characters.

Participants will learn to:

  • Differentiate between an occasion for a scene and an event
  • Clarify beats of action and turning points in scenes for better control of pace and tension
  • Understand how pulse drives character motivation and action, and…
  • Revise scenes to sharpen overall story structure

Cost: $330

Sign up deadline: Friday, September 20, 2024.

Apply here!



Writing Craft

Memory & Interiority

In this cross-genre workshop, we’lll discuss the different types and functions of interiority, including reflection, response, interrogation, & commentary.

Unique among the narrative elements, interiority is what allows us to access human thought—the muddled, associative, elliptical wellspring of emotion.

Using an excerpt from Sandra Scofield’s “Review of Narrative Elements” and an essay, “On Memory & Survival,” by Nickole Brown, we’ll practice the ways interiority can add depth and nuance to your writing.

Writing Craft


Prose writers, especially those grappling with a book-length narrative, often focus on  writing scenes in the present action—which function to move a story forward.  But what if understanding the past is essential to making emotional sense of the present? What if your plot has deep roots in the history of a given person, community, or place?

In this class, we’ll consider the question of when to include the past (and how much), and explore strategies for integrating backstory without losing narrative momentum.

Panel Discussion

Substance as Style: What Noir Writing Can Teach Us about Literary Form

As a genre, noir fiction explores flawed protagonists, individuals attempting to negotiate a corrupt society, and propulsive, plot-driven language that embraces the vernacular. What can this very American literary form teach fiction writers about nuance in character development, innovative approaches to building tension in a narrative, and the ways setting impacts plot?

Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference


Two for the Road: Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration, Travel, & Identity

This talk explores different approaches to the collaborative process through the lens of several projects undertaken by writer Tanya Whiton and photographer Heidi Killion (Two for the Road: Adventures in Maine). Touching on the different ways artists can work together across disciplines, it also addresses some of the challenges inherent to cross-disciplinary collaboration—and ways to overcome them.

Professional Development

Don’t Submit, Share! How to Manage the Process of Publishing in Literary Journals

Many well-intentioned writers enthusiastically set out to submit their work to literary journals, only to encounter numerous roadblocks.

This seminar demystifies the submission process by offering strategies for overcoming obstacles, clarifying personal goals, and creating a simple, actionable plan to get one’s writing in front of editors and, ultimately, readers.

Professional Development

Start Where You’re Standing: How to Create & Develop Your Writer’s Platform

Whether you’re just starting out, on the road to publication, or have already published a book, creating and maintaining your “author platform” is part of the business of being a writer. Simply put, a platform is defined by a) who you are and b) who you want to reach.

This talk will outline the essential functions and elements of an author platform (focusing on web sites, social media, and events); share tools for participants to assess their own efforts; and offer tips for integrating creative and promotional work to reflect one’s unique vision and mission as a writer.

What are you working on?