2012 festival workshops will include several 4-day workshops, running during the day from the 19- 22 September, from 9.30am - 12.30pm. All workshops will run concurrently at a number of venues in Cork City centre, each no more than a ten minute walk from the main festival venue: the Triskel Arts Centre in South Main Street. The exact venue for each workshop will be determined by the number of participants and mobility considerations. Maximum number of participants in each workshop is 15.
Click on the panels to view the course descriptions and tutor bios.
Please note: Short Stories for Beginners & Advanced Short Story Writing are now sold out. Do consider one of the other five workshops on offer below, or email info(at)munsterlit(dot)ie to be placed on a waiting list in case of a cancellation.
This workshop is suitable for the first-time writer as well as those who have been writing for a while. The classes will provide a structured guide to short fiction writing. Participants will receive a daily handout at each workshop. We will also have an opportunity to discuss
writing competitions, publishing opportunities, agents etc.
DAY 1 — Introduction to Short Fiction & Character
This workshop will look at the origins of the short story as well as giving participants guidelines for short story writing. We will look at MS layout, the importance of titles; and how to improve self-editing skills. We will examine character under the following headings: creating believable characters; motivation; conflict; profiles; naming. We will start to write a short story in class which will be expanded on over the course of the next three days.
DAY 2 — Dialogue & Show vs Tell
This workshop will focus on what our characters say and don’t say. We will look at correct layout of dialogue; how to reproduce real speech in fiction; and the use of colloquial language. We will also look at showing versus telling, and its importance in the creation of scenes. We will have an in-class exercise to help move our stories along.
DAY 3 — Style and Language Use
This workshop will zone in on the use of language in the short story and we will examine the notion of style and authorial voice. We will look at the importance of adjectives, abstract nouns & adverbs; and the reasons why true language is important. We will have in-class exercises to help move our stories along.
DAY 4 — Setting & Atmosphere
The final workshop will focus on setting and atmosphere in short stories. We will look at the importance of place in stories; how atmosphere can be created; and rectifying mistakes in setting. Again, we will write in class. In this final session, Nuala will also answer queries from participants regarding publishing opportunities for the short story, as well as literary competitions, recommended reading etc.
Nuala Ní Chonchúir was born in Dublin in 1970 and lives in Galway; she is a short story writer, novelist and poet. Her fourth short story collection Mother America and other stories will be published by New Island in May 2012. She has won many short fiction awards, most recently The Jane Geske Award (USA) for her story ‘Peach’ which featured in Prairie Schooner. This story is also nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize. Nuala’s other awards include RTÉ radio’s Francis MacManus Award, the Cúirt New Writing Prize, the inaugural Jonathan Swift Award and the Cecil Day Lewis Award. She was shortlisted for the European Prize for Literature. Nuala has taught masterclasses and workshops in the short story at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature, Galway Arts Centre, the West Cork Literary Festival, Waterford Writers’ Weekend, Kilkenny Writers’ Weekend, the Trevor Bowen Summer School and at Writing 3.0 in Fingal, among other places. www.nualanichonchuir.com
Photo © John Minihan
This four day masterclass on the short story is suitable for writers who have already written and published short stories. In the course of the workshops, we will examine and discuss the evolution of the modern short story, from Chekhov to Kevin Barry. Examples of great short stories by Irish and international authors will be analysed from a writerly point of view. Participants’ own stories will be reviewed, using structured review guidelines. If you are passionate about writing the short story, have experience of writing it, but would like to enhance your knowledge, share your experience of writing and reading, and hone your skills in a sympathetic and knowledgeable environment, this masterclass will suit you. You will be invited to submit a short story, not longer than 3000 words, for review at the workshops. You will also be asked to read specific short stories in advance of the classes, and be prepared to participate in discussions and workshop sessions.
To submit your story as application for the workshop, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a brief summary of your publications history as well.
DAY 1 — What is it anyway?
1. Overview of the history of the modern short story. Discussion of Éilís’s definition: ‘The Types of the Short Story’ (handout supplied). Debate on the state of the Irish short story.
2. Review of students’ work.
DAY 2 — Lifting Reality’s Veil: the Rise and Rise of the Epiphany.
1. Discussion of James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ and Kevin Barry’s ‘The Fjord of Killary’.
2. How the modernist short story is composed: views and discussion
3. Review of students’ work.
DAY 3 — Turning the Screw
1. Analysis and discussion of Julian Barnes’ ‘East Wind’
2. The ‘turn’, the ‘volta’, and the ‘twist in the tail’: discussion.
3. Review of students’ work.
DAY 4 — The Layers and the Language
1. Discussion of Alice Munro’s ‘Wild Swans’.
2. The uses of imagery and symbolism in the short story.
3. Review of students’ work.
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne has taught creative writing in Trinity College, University College Dublin, and the Faber Academy of Writing, and conducted workshops on the short story at Listowel Writers’ Week, the Irish Writers’ Centre, and at many other venues in Ireland and elsewhere. She has published more than twenty books, including six collections of short stories. Her stories are widely translated and anthologized, most recently in the Granta Book of the Irish Short Story and in Best European Fiction 2011. Her latest collection of short stories, The Shelter of Neighbours (Blackstaff Press), was published in March 2012. www.eilisnidhuibhne.net
Flash fiction: the shortest of short stories, the short story distilled to its essence — but also in many ways its own form, one that has been around for decades, with Borges, Kafka, Raymond Carver, Margaret Atwood and Richard Brautigan as some of its many proponents. Sometimes called microfiction, nanofiction, short shorts, ultra-short stories and even prose poems, we will be taking an in-depth look at the what, why, how and who of flash fiction, and embracing brevity ourselves. You will have at least 4 complete flash stories by the end of the week to submit to the many publications and contests that want your flash!
What is all this flash fiction, and is it the same as microfiction, nanofiction, ultra short stories, short shorts etc.? Who writes them and where can we find them? We will be getting to know the shortest of short stories, reading them, discussing them and writing them.
Warming up your flash muscles. We will be doing more flash writing and exploring different avenues to brevity, looking in depth at the flash fictions of one or two writers. Also, we will be getting experimental — how weird can you go, what bizarre worlds will the flash fiction
reader let you take them into? And where does inspiration come from? Everywhere... including science!
The concept of time in flash fiction. We will be looking at the way different writers play with time in these tiny stories and doing some experimenting with time, form and structure in our own writing.
The shortest of the short — Dribbles and Drabbles. We will be asking: can you really tell a story in 100 words? What about 50 words? And then finding out the answers! We will also be looking at where you can find more places to read flash fiction and to submit your own work to.
Tania Hershman’s first collection of short stories and flash fiction, The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008), was commended in the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. Her second collection, consisting of 55 very short fictions, My Mother Was an Upright Piano: Fictions, will be published in May 2012 by Tangent Books. Tania’s award-winning flash fiction has been widely published online and in print and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She is currently writer-in-residence in the Science Faculty at Bristol University, working on a new collection of biology inspired stories, funded by an Arts Council England grant. Tania is a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation, and one of the judges of this year’s Royal Society Winton Prize for Popular Science Books. She is also founder and editor of The Short Review, an online journal which reviews short story collections and interviews their authors. She has been a fiction editor of Southword Online and a former judge of the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition. www.taniahershman.com
This workshop is suitable for any writer who likes fairy tales from any tradition or time, and whether by Oscar Wilde, Angela Carter, the Brothers Grimm or any number of other practitioners around the world. In this workshop you will learn more about fairy-tale techniques. This craft workshop is suitable for writers from published to emerging and new, realist to fabulist, and mainstream to experimental — for fairy tales lend themselves freely to all. Through reading, discussion, and brief writing exercises, we will work with the basic techniques of fairy tales. These include, but are not limited to: flatness, everyday magic, intuitive logic, equivalency, and abstraction. Working from a series of very short traditional tales, you will produce new prose works. This workshop welcomes writers of all styles interested in going under the influence of wonder. Participants will receive a daily handout at each workshop. We will also have an opportunity to look at and discuss the many international journals that publish work that can be considered fairy-tale fiction; we will compare their different editorial lenses with an eye toward making submissions. You will also receive suggested reading lists for further investigation of this brilliant art form.
DAY 1 — Introduction to Fairy Tales & Their Techniques
This workshop will look at the multiple operating definitions of “fairy tales,” and the origins of the form. We will talk about the legacy of the Brothers Grimm on so many contemporary writers, and discuss what you hope to do with fairy tales as a writer yourself. This session will also introduce you to the basic techniques we will be using over the three days of the workshop. We will talk about fairy-tale beginnings: those famous “once upon a times” and how you might use these. You will write some very short tales during this class.
DAY 2 — Everyday Magic & Flat Characters
Fairy tales often contain little or no magic, and often the magic is not very astounding to those who encounter it inside of the stories. We will look at this technique. Also, many beginning writers are instructed to “develop” their characters fully. Yet, often, traditional fairy tales contain flat characters only who are barely described or developed. Characters in the old tales are good or bad, stupid or clever; they do not suffer neuroses (at least on the page). This workshop will focus on how characters function in some old fairy tales and
what you, as a writer, might do with the technique of flatness. Writers amplify and minimize techniques to suit their own styles, of course. You will work from exercises to create some characters, and then you will write some very short tales where the characters appear.
Day 3 – Intuitive Logic and Equivalency
This workshop will zone in on how fairy tales have a just-so feeling even as they might feel topsy-turvy. They do this with grammar and style. We will look at how fairy-tale authors (especially The Brothers Grimm) use transitions, omission, and authority to create this dreamlike yet firm effect. We will also consider how in old fairy tales, things have equivalency: a teaspoon has as much importance as a bear, a thimble as much as a castle. How you choose nouns is important; fairy tales contain only the ones that they need. We will talk about different things you might do with this in your writing. We will have in-class exercises and write a few short tales.
DAY 4 – Setting and Abstraction
Fairy tales can be set anywhere. They need not be set, that is, in a long ago past. In this final workshop we will focus on place in fairy tales. We will be reminded that all fairy tales were (or are) contemporary to someone, in that they are written at a particular time, even if set “once upon a time”. We will talk about how to create a fairy-tale world that has an uncanny feeling. We will talk about what details can give fairy tales a vintage and futuristic sensation at once, and what you might want to do with setting as writers. We will also talk about abstraction in fairy tales: how the some of the best-loved old tales contain little colour
and very few things. Again, we will write in class. You will leave this class with a portfolio of
new fairy tales you have written. In this final session, Kate will also answer queries from participants regarding publishing opportunities for fairy tales, as well as literary competitions, recommended reading, etc.
Kate Bernheimer was born in Waban, Massachusetts in 1966 and teaches a graduate fiction workshop at the University of Louisiana as their Writer in Residence. She lives and writes in the American Southwest the rest of the year. An author of novels and short stories, she has been recognized nationally and internationally for her work as a practitioner of the contemporary fairy tale. Based on Chinese, German, Russian, and Yiddish fairy tales, her trilogy of novels concluded last year with the publication of The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold. She also recently published a story collection called Horse, Flower, Bird, which according to Booklist “redefines the fairy tale into something wholly original”. She regularly publishes stories, book reviews, art criticism, scholarship, and occasional creative nonfiction in venues such as The Los Angeles Times, Bomb Magazine, Tin House, and Poets and Writers. She recently edited the World Fantasy Award-winning collection My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales (Penguin 2010). She is founder and editor of an annual literary journal called Fairy Tale Review. She frequently lectures on, and teaches master classes and workshops in, the contemporary fairy tale. Recent or forthcoming venues for such appearances include The Center for the Art of Translation, The Chicago Public Library, Washington University in St. Louis, The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at San Diego State University, The University of Massachusetts, and Harvard University. katebernheimer.com
This course may be of interest to writers who have experience of writing for adults, but it is primarily designed for novice writers interested in writing for young audiences. Each day’s work begins with reading a poem together. The idea here is to help students to relax into a writing frame of mind by enjoying a short but complete piece of writing together and to allow them to exchange ideas about a piece of writing for which they are not responsible.
Day One — What is writing for children & young people?
The first workshop will encourage students to think about what writing for young people is about and how it differs from writing for adults. There will be an opportunity to do a short individual writing exercise, as well as a collaborative writing project. The collaboration will builds students’ confidence and create a buzz, while providing practice in one way of imagining and creating a story, start to finish (we hope!), as part of a group, without the pressure of having to produce a story individually.
Day Two — Setting the Scene & Finding a Voice
Students will focus on writing short scenes (or stories) on the second day. This will involve outlining the structure of a story and help students to plan a story with a satisfying shape. We will also discuss narrative perspective and voice, and give students opportunities to experiment with different narrative styles.
Day Three — Character Creation & Dialogue
On day three, students will begin to create believable characters by reviewing types of characters, and their places in the story. This will include discussing character description and dialogue. Students will have the opportunity to create a character and bring the character to life within a scene.
Day Four — The Arc of a Story--balance, resolution and the heart of drama
Narrative arcs and how they are developed will be explored in the final workshop. We will discuss the importance of pace, climax and resolution. Students will have the chance to create story outlines that have a balanced structure and a clear narrative goal.
Siobhán Parkinson is a former children’s laureate of Ireland, Laureate na nÓg. She writes fiction for children and young people (and occasionally for adults). She has published more than twenty books since 1992, and her work has been translated into as many languages.
She has been shortlisted nine times for the Bisto Book of the Year award, which she won on one occasion; she has received Bisto Merit and Honour Book awards four times, as well as two IBBY Honours and several White Ravens. Most recently she won an Oireachtas award. She is is currently commissioning editor and publisher with Little Island. She has wide experience of teaching creative writing, and has held numerous Writers-in-Schools short-term residencies, many with a particular emphasis on working with children with special needs. siobhanparkinson.com
Kevin Stevens is the author of six books, including This Ain’t No Video Game, Kid!, a novel for young adults, and two novels for adults. He is also a consultant editor for Little Island, responsible for helping in the development of two series of illustrated stories for children. www.kevinstevens.net
Siobhán will be tutor for days 1 & 2. Kevin will be tutor for days 3 & 4.
This workshop is designed for anyone who is interested in looking to prose fiction as a source of material for the stage. You may be a theatre practitioner with a favourite story that you would like to experience in a dramatic form or you may be a short story writer who is interested in examining your own world of concerns from the point of view of theatre. Either way, this workshop could be just the thing for you. If you are a first time writer and are interested in writing a play, the process of adapting a story for the stage is a good introduction to the playwriting process. If you already have experience in another literary form, it provides a great way of giving a whole new take on the literary experience.
Each participant will be asked to come to the workshop having picked a story to work on. The first session will begin with general introductions and the sharing of stories. Each participant will talk briefly about the story they have chosen to adapt for the stage and what excites them about it. This will be followed by a more thorough look at each text with a view to identifying what is immediately “stageable” about it. This will be clarified through casual performance and reading. Looking at what else needs to be done to make the transition from prose to dramatic text. Establishing a narrative time line for each story. Identifying the gaps in the time line. First writing exercise; converting prose commentary to dramatic text. How to write dialogue and how to substantiate character through dialogue and action.
The second session begins with a continuation of the writing work that was started in the previous session. Writing tasks will be established for each participant at the outset. Each story will be looked at more thoroughly to see what needs to be done to make it stage ready. There will be one-on-one engagement between the facilitator and each participant to address what is involved in looking at the content of the story and the process of dramatic scripting that proceeds from it.
Looking again at the progress that everyone has made and discussing further progress in respect of stylistic considerations. Looking at how a choice of style can facilitate the stage development of the story. (Is it a play? Is it a musical? Is it a one-person show? Is it a soap opera?) Further writing work in respect of stylistic considerations. Further sharing and discussion of work. Looking at how to adjust and edit work after hearing it read or performed for the first time. Looking at how to end. Preparation for a public sharing the next day; each participant will be asked to pick a section of the work they have done for presentation the next day. A general discussion of what needs to be done in preparation for this.
The focus of the last day of the workshop will be a casual sharing of the fruits of the workshop. The session will begin with group readings of each person’s chosen work for the sharing. Tidying up in response to this. Small tweakings; editing and adding new bits of text. Looking at each text in the process of casual preparation. Participants will be given an opportunity to discuss their feelings about the prospect of a public sharing and will be introduced to a set of exercises and approaches which will facilitate them in this process. The Sharing: an extract of each participants work in progress will be read in front of an audience. Feedback & General Discussion: The workshop will end with an open discussion involving feedback from the audience on each piece; general opinions and reactions on the effectiveness of the work in the context and suggestions as to how each piece could be developed will be sought.
Jack Healy has worked in theatre for over thirty years mainly as an actor and playwright. He has written scripts for The Everyman Palace, Macra Na Feirme and RTÉ Radio. At the 2010 Cork International Short Story Festival he performed a dramatic reading of Who’s Ever
Heard of an Irish Jew? by David Marcus. He has written extensively for children. His play for children The Man in the Moon (in collaboration with Enda Walsh, based on a story of Jack’s) was premiered at the Deptford Studios, London in 2009. With his own company, Theatre Makers, he wrote and produced Aesop’s Fabulous Foibles and Fables (with George Hanover) which has toured throughout the country. He has extensive experience as a teacher. For primary schools he has designed the workshop Make a Scene which introduces young writers to the joy of writing and sharing short dramatic scenes. In the context of his company Theatre Makers he has facilitated several writers to complete their first scripts. theatremakers.net
Photo © John Minihan
At my song writing workshops we actually write songs. In the past I have attended a few workshops where the participants play their songs only to be criticised by experts who talk down to them. I was inspired to invent a novel approach, where we all sit down and write a finished song in one session. This teaches many lessons, including finishing things, which is often a big problem for writers. I create a space where all negativity, all criticism and judgement are locked outside. We get down and dirty and write songs. First we write words. Then we assemble them in a certain order, using the tricks of the trade, verse, chorus, repetition, rhyme etc. Then we sing them and we have a song. I try to come behind people and help them lose whatever inhibitions and fears they may have about writing songs. Positivity is the key, and this can be applied to other parts of life also. Anyone who signs up for my song writing workshop should be prepared to sing, it doesn’t matter at all how good or bad a singer you think you are!
For the Story into Song Workshop we will all write a short simple song on day one, just to get everyone believing. On day two we will focus on the theme of the festival, Story, and will examine and enjoy the Irish ballad tradition and see how a story may be told in a song, how the music can heighten the action. We will look at the magical chemical reaction that happens when words and music meet.
Each participant will pick a theme and write one serious ballad which can be perfected over days three and four. The aim is to have a lot of fun, write a lot of words and music, move quickly and not get bogged down.
Come along and write songs!
John Spillane is a musician, songwriter, performer, recording artist, storyteller, poet, dreamer. He has released nine albums and many singles and EPs. Two-time Meteor award winner, John is one of the most accomplished songwriters in Ireland today. Among those who have covered his songs are Christy Moore, Karen Casey, Pauline Scanlon, Cathy Ryan, Sharon Shannon, Sean Keane and George Murphy, to name a few. He performs to audiences, both large and small, everywhere. John has been conducting Songwriting Workshops for many years. Among the places John has presented workshops are Listowel Writers’ Week 2005 and 2006; Composer in the Classroom Scheme with the Cork International Choral Festival; The West Cork Literary Festival; Mountains to the Sea Book Festival and at the Cork Prison Education Unit. www.johnspillane.ie
Mobility Requirements: Most of the venues have wheelchair access but not all. If you have limited mobility every effort will be made to accommodate you, but best chance is through an early booking.
Your workshop place will be secured only after full payment. Every effort will be made to make sure that the programme proceeds as advertised but the Munster Literature Centre accepts no responsibility for changes made due to circumstances beyond our control. Refunds will be given only if a workshop is cancelled.
The workshop charge is €150. All workshop participants will be offered a 50% discount on festival reading tickets which go on sale in late July. Participants with booked places will be informed in early September of exact venue. Any other relevant requirements such as reading materials or submitted work (as indicated in some workshop descriptions) will be communicated to you in good time.
As workshops sell out notification of such will be posted on this page.
How to Book
We will be accepting workshop bookings from Monday April 16th.
Phone + 353 (021)4312955
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork
Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).