PREMIUM WORKSHOPS

For the first time, we’re offering Premium Workshops with featured guest authors, each of which will be centered around a particular theme, topic, or perspective. This is a unique opportunity to learn deeply about a particular element of craft that’s crucial to your work, and to receive feedback on your writing from that perspective. Workshops will be identified as either generative or revision focus workshops:

  • In Generative Workshops you will focus on creating new work with some on-the-spot feedback. Some work will still be submitted in advance, with details to come in the spring.
  • In Revision Workshops, your instructor and ten classmates will review your manuscript of up to 20 pages of prose or 3-4 poems. In the weeks before the workshop begins, you will receive your classmates' manuscripts to review.

Please note: these designations indicate the scope of each workshop and expected participant commitment. Each participant will receive additional instructions and details for their workshop when they register!

This will include 2-2.5 hour workshop sessions for 5 days, plus a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with your workshop leader to discuss your work, all over Zoom. Workshop faculty for Muse 2021 Premium Workshops are Alexander Chee, Jennifer De Leon, Alex Espinoza, Melissa Febos, Vievee Francis, Reyna Grande, Rebecca Makkai, Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Nina McConigley, David Mura, Matthew Olzmann, Jess Row.

Premium Workshops cost $450 and are only available to Muse 2021 attendees. All workshops take place April 28th - May 2nd 2021. You'll be able to register for a Premium Workshop as you register for the Muse & the Marketplace 2021.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION WORKSHOP

WRITING SOCIAL JUSTICE IN YOUNG ADULT FICTION

A generative workshop with Jennifer De Leon

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 9:00am - 12:00pm

Recent social, cultural, and publishing conditions have shaped a surge in social justice Young Adult literature. Themes of such work include: immigration, police brutality, gun violence, race, class, and gender identity, all against the backdrop of more traditional young adult narrative topics—coming of age, cultural traditions, friendship, family, and more. Yet, how do we balance story with content, juggle internal and external conflicts? How do we walk the tightrope of plot and politics and write nuanced characters that don’t become authorial caricatures? In this course we will read published excerpts by authors that may include: Angie Thomas, Natalia Sylvester, Kacen Callender, Samira Ahmed, Jason Reynolds, and Deb Caletti. We will also partake in writing exercises that help us engage with our material on the levels of stakes, story, and style.

FICTION WORKSHOP

YOU ARE HERE: WRITING PLACE IN FICTION

A revision workshop with Alex Espinoza

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Perhaps one of the most challenging elements in fiction is the ability to render a specific geographic location as both familiar and novel. From Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio to Eudora Welty's American South, from Helena María Viramontes' East Los Angeles to Susan Straight's Rio Seco, this literary road trip will explore the myriad ways writers of disparate locations make place not just a simple backdrop but a character itself, breathing, pulsing, and teeming with life.

NONFICTION WORKSHOP

BODY WORK: A GENERATIVE NONFICTION SEMINAR

A generative workshop with Melissa Febos

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 9:00am - 12:00pm

In this generative workshop we will explore the practice of writing from intimate personal experience and the embodied nature of that practice. As writers, we cannot create dynamic textual bodies without considering the corporeal ones that inhabit our stories. It is through the body that we perceive the world, encounter other beings, and in which we percolate even the most abstract ideas. It is in physical bodies that we live political realities. Together we will examine the craft and content of embodied nonfiction texts—those that articulate and transmit bodily realities of gender, sexuality, violence, eroticism, and all manner of sensory experience—generate our own, and discuss the challenges and rewards of publishing such work. Daily classes will consist of writing exercises, mini-lectures and craft discussions, close readings of published works, and short homework assignments. There will be time for sharing work, but this is not a workshop. By the end of the week, participants will have multiple drafts to expand and revise.

POETRY WORKSHOP

THE SKY IS FALLING: ASCENDANT AND DESCENDANT GESTURES IN THE POEM

A generative workshop with revision components with Vievee Francis

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 1:00pm - 4:00pm EDT

Have you ever been asked, “Why don’t you write happy poems”? Or perhaps you have been admonished that your poems are too “dark.” There is a common assumption that the poem should “lift,” “inspire,” or at least suggest “hope.” However, what if that is not your aim? What if your goal is not to affirm the reader or to soothe but instead to disarm, indeed, to allow the reader to take in the distress of a situation or even internal states such as disconsolation? In this workshop, we will look at how the poem builds toward its final moments and discuss the paradox of how ascendant gestures may shut (down) the poem’s possibilities while descendent gestures may open them (up). This is a generative workshop so we will be writing at least two poems and both will be revised.

FICTION & NONFICTION WORKSHOP

MAKING A SCENE

A revision workshop with Reyna Grande

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 6:00pm - 9:00pm EDT

In this workshop, you will learn the ins and outs of scene writing. Through in-depth analysis of scenes from published books and from your own writing samples, you will have a clearer understanding of what a scene is and isn't, learn to map scene intensity, and apply tricks and techniques of the trade to make your story come alive on the page.

SHORT FICTION WORKSHOP

ADVANCED SHORT FICTION: WHAT MAKES THE STORY GO?

A revision workshop with Rebecca Makkai

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 6:00pm - 9:00pm EDT

In narrative fiction, it's plot -- cause and effect, development, change, suspense -- that propel us forward. In less narrative fiction, we have to rely on other propulsions: lyricism, innovation, surprise, rhythm, revelation. And, as in every art form, understanding the traditional forms can help us break these rules more effectively.

In this workshop, we'll look at both the structure of traditional narrative fiction (referring to the wisdom of Aristotle, Freytag and others) and also at the wildest formal experimentation being done today. We'll workshop student fiction in this light -- focusing on arc, on shape, on plot or the lack thereof -- asking, in every case, what moves the story along, and how to make it impossible to put down.

NONFICTION WORKSHOP

THE RESEARCHED & THE PERSONAL: HYBRIDITY IN ACTION

A revision workshop with Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 6:00pm - 9:00pm EDT

Memoir as a genre is changing. Some of the most exciting work published in recent years includes not only the personal story of the memoirist, but a thread or even two threads that take us beyond the memoirists’ life into researched and re-imagined material that sheds new light, sparks new connections, and expands both meaning and impact. Think of falconry in Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk—and how much more violent and ragged we feel her grief for her father as, with the juxtaposition of the hawk’s hunt. Think of the history of New Orleans in Sarah Broom’s The Yellow House—and how through its contextual inclusion, we understand that her family’s story is not only their own, but a portrait of a time and place. But how does the memoirist choose what will expand their story, and keep a reader gripped and moving through layered, interlocking threads? This workshop will focus on discovering and enhancing the connections that will best bring your work to life.

FICTION & NONFICTION WORKSHOP

RACE, IDENTITY, & NARRATIVE CRAFT IN FICTION & MEMOIR

A generative workshop with David Mura

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 6:00pm - 9:00pm EDT

This workshop will start with an examination of the question of identity, particularly that of race, and how that question must be viewed as essential to the craft of writing and the individual writer's perspective and story. This will lead to basic questions concerning how fiction writers and memoirists approach the issues of identity. We will then examine basic narrative structures and techniques in fiction and memoir, and particular focus will be on the ways in memoir such narrative structures and techniques lead inevitably to questions of identity. There will be extensive readings for this class and class discussion of those readings. Students will be given writing exercises, but this will not be a writing workshop focused on student manuscripts. At the same time, this workshop will provide students with tools and ways of revising their writing and for starting new projects.

POETRY WORKSHOP

ANTICIPATION AND THE POETIC TURN

A revision workshop with Matthew Olzmann

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 6:00pm - 9:00pm

The best poems don’t just surprise us; they surprise us in a manner that feels necessary and poignant. This class will focus on strategies that enable our poems to shape and intensify a reader’s ability to anticipate, and then we’ll look at how resisting or overthrowing that sense of anticipation can create a lasting resonance. The expectations a poem builds for us might be narrative, emotional, formal, tonal or thematic, and the pivot might be subtle or monumental. We’ll consider odd juxtapositions, variations from established patterns, associative leaps in thought, shifts in focus, and points of emotional contrast as possible strategies for developing the poetic turn. During our five days together, we’ll workshop the poems you bring to the class with these ideas in mind, but with daily writing prompts, we’ll also be looking toward the poems you’ll write in the weeks or months ahead.

FICTION WORKSHOP

WRITING OUTSIDE YOURSELF

A revision workshop with Jess Row

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021, 9:00am - 12:00pm

In this workshop we're going to talk about the complexities—emotional, psychological, political—of writing characters and situations outside of our own experiences. We'll talk about the uses of research and the importance of self-inquiry, and discuss texts by James Baldwin, Melanie Rae Thon, and several others.

A WORKSHOP WITH ALEXANDER CHEE

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021 Time TBA

Description coming soon!

A WORKSHOP WITH NINA MCCONIGLEY

April 28th - May 2nd, 2021 Time TBA

Description coming soon!