Creating Stories: An Introduction to Fiction Writing

Creating Stories: An Introduction to Fiction Writing

You love to read fiction. And the more you read, the more stories of your own you have swimming or flying or dancing in your head. You have this urge, this itch, to write them down.

 

But where to begin?

 

You’re a good writer; writing may even be a large part of your job. Maybe you’ve kept a journal for years. So why the heck can’t you get that story out?

You know what you want to say, but when you begin to write or type it out, it seems to fall apart or wander off in another direction. You want this so badly, but you get frustrated, discouraged.

 

All of this is completely normal.

 

Sometimes people (ahem . . . especially aspiring writers) expect a bit too much of themselves. They expect to be able to do something with ease, and to do it well – even though they’ve never learned how, have never asked for any guidance or support.

 

In this six-week, live, online workshop, beginning June 17,

You will get that guidance and support.

You will build a foundation for discovering, exploring, and shaping your stories.

And you will get acquainted (or reacquainted) with your writer self.

While the workshop is designed for writers with no previous fiction-writing experience, it is also beneficial for people who have taken an introductory fiction class but who completed it long ago, and for fiction writers who have gotten out of touch with their writing and need a jump-start into fresh work.

 

Ready to Sign up? You can do that HERE.

 

We will be meeting on six consecutive Wednesday evenings.

Here is what we will be doing when we meet:

 

Week One (June 17): Where do story ideas come from?

Week Two (June 24): Describing Place (setting)

Week Three (July 1): Describing People (more than physical descriptions!)

Week Four (July 8): Describing People: Conflict

Week Five (July 15): Point of View and Scene

Week Six (July 22): Scene (cont.), Time, the Role of the Narrator

Each week, we will open with a warm-up writing prompt that will ease you into the session and get your writing juices flowing. (This exercise is just for you. You won’t be asked to share it.)

Then I will  introduce the week’s topic and read samples from the work of several published fiction writers.

 

And then . . . we will write!

 

I will share two writing prompts during the session. The prompts are meant to be fun, meant to help you dig more deeply into your story ideas, to imagine the setting, to begin to discover your characters, to get them interacting with each other . . .

While you will be asked to share your work, you don’t need to worry about it being handled roughly. The atmosphere will be friendly and open, and will nurture your creative spirit. (And if you don’t want to share, you don’t have to.)

You will look at the process of writing fiction from the inside out—as a writer rather than a reader. And you will learn where and how to begin.

 

Will I be expected to complete a piece of writing?

I’ve been assisting writers for many years – as in instructor, editor, and coach – and I’m a writer myself. What I’ve learned is that one of the most counterproductive things a creative writer can do is to focus on the end product too soon.

Writing is a process, not only a process of getting the story down on paper, but a process of discovery. If we skip the discovery part, if we jump right into organizing (organizing what?), we risk becoming frustrated and creating flat, uninteresting work.

So, no, you won’t be asked to complete a piece of writing in this introductory workshop. Instead, the in-class writing exercises will help you to explore your story ideas, introduce (or re-introduce) you to the practice of writing; and encourage you to play with the basic components of fiction writing (as outlined in the weekly schedule).

After this introductory workshop, you will be invited to sign up for my ongoing workshop (eight weeks at a time), where you will be able to share your work in progress – a paragraph, a page, up to 10 pages at a time – for constructive feedback, and guidance and support as you move forward.

 

Will this be a big, impersonal workshop?

Not at all! I’ve taught these workshops for many years – in bookstores and in the living room of my Chicago apartment. I had a big basket of herbal tea on the kitchen counter and cans of sparkling water in the refrigerator. We’d sip and talk and write and share – and form a supportive writing community.

My aim is to create the same inviting, supportive atmosphere in my online workshops.

We meet via Zoom, where we can see and hear each other. This setting allows a writing community to grow. You will have the opportunity to join the meeting a few minutes before it starts if you like, and to talk among yourselves – just like in my living room. (But you will have to bring your own beverage!)

I’ve limited the enrollment to 12 people. Everyone will be heard; no one will be lost in the crowd.

Are you shy? Don’t worry. Many writers are. I promise you that my workshops are safe spaces for everyone.

 

When? Where? How Much?

The workshop meets on Six Wednesdays: June 17, 24; July 8, 15, 22
From 7-9 pm Central  (USA)

The day before each session, I will send you a link to our Zoom meeting room.
(Don’t worry about the technology. You just click on it, and you’re there.)

 

The workshop will be recorded,

but if you anticipate missing more than two live sessions,

it would be best if you took the workshop at another time.

 

You will have the opportunity to interact with other participants in real time, to share ideas and ask questions. This is so much better than receiving a recording that somehow you can never find the time to watch. And if everyone is working on their own, well, there’s no workshop.

 

Workshop Fee

Sign up by June 11 and pay only $325

for 12 hours (two hours each week)

in a small, face-to-face group (limit 12 participants)

After June 11, the fee is $350

Bonus: workshop participants can purchase one-hour private coaching calls (normally $125) at the special price of $85.

 

Ready to Sign Up? You can do that HERE.

 


Who is leading the workshop?

 

 

Me!  My name is Pam Sourelis.

I’m a published writer (both fiction and non-fiction) and an experienced writing instructor and workshop leader. I’ve taught for DePaul and Loyola universities in Chicago, the Illinois Writing Project, and the Masters in Writing Program of Southern New Hampshire University. I’ve independently taught writing workshops for adults for over 20 years.

I’m also a writing coach and mentor, and a developmental editor.

 

What Former Workshop Participants Say

A number of years ago I joined one of Pam’s workshops and found it extremely helpful. More than that, it was a goldmine. For a good while I had been working on the material that would become my first novel, and the guidance provided in the workshop, as well as the encouragement, made me push forward. I discovered the intricacies of plot, characterization, and all the usual elements, but the workshop very much served to help me find my voice. I went on to take several more, and as confidence increased, so did the quality of my writing—and the number of novels, six so far. I have had Pam edit most of the recent ones, and each time the bar has been raised. Pam went through my latest historical fiction novel, Fortune’s Child, with me, and I just received the best review of my career from the prestigious Kirkus Reviews. As in most of my novels, you’ll find her name in the Acknowledgements.
– James Conroy Martin, author of six novels, including the critically acclaimed Poland Trilogy

Several years ago, I enrolled in a six-week, introductory class on writing fiction at Ragdale [a nationally known writers retreat] in Lake Forest, IL, because I wanted to write a novel. Trained as a journalist, I had written nonfiction most of my adult life. Since I was almost sixty-five, I knew I had to get started learning the art of fiction if I was to realize my dream. The teacher was Pam Sourelis, a person who, I soon discovered, truly understood the rights and wrongs of good fiction writing. During those few weeks, she changed the way I thought about fiction. The transition was challenging and exciting. Wanting to learn more, I joined her process of fiction writing workshop. Since then, Pam has taught me to be a much better writer and a much better reader. I have not only learned to create character-driven stories but have benefited from the creative energy which emanates from her workshop. The whole process has been extraordinary and enriching.
– Joyce Newcomb

Pam’s writing group is the highlight of my week, as it has been for the past five years. When I started, I had a vague idea for a book. And now, with the help of Pam’s impeccable guidance and the feedback of the smart, kind and dedicated writers who comprise the small group, I have finished a draft of a novel and have started another.
Each week, without fail, I take away something new, whether it be about the writing process, story development or about myself as a writer. I consider myself lucky to have found this special group of people.
– Francie Arenson

I was always interested in writing, but I never knew how to get started. Pam’s introductory [fiction] course taught me so much, opening my mind and my heart to the world of creative writing. A group of us enjoyed the writing exercises so much that years later, after being in the process workshop for some time, we took the introductory course again. In the practice workshop, I learn something every week from my own efforts and from listening to the work of the other writers in the group. Pam has created a space where we can all reveal our most heartfelt work, knowing that we will be supported and guided along our paths. Although we are serious about our craft, the evening is often filled with laughter and enjoyment as we listen to each other’s stories. I have found that by making a commitment to a weekly workshop, that I am also making a commitment to my writing.
– Jean Diamond

For years, I worked with Pam Sourelis and her writing group on a weekly basis.  Not only did working with Pam make me amazingly productive, but I learned an amazing amount. Pam considers each author’s piece of writing as its own, without trying to force her (or anyone else’s) style onto the piece.  She is able, through her review of the class’s writing, to teach everyone an extraordinary amount about technique and most of all, how to make your writing sing.
Laura Caldwell, Author of 14 published novels

 

 

Ready to sign up? You can do that HERE.*


I will send you a personal confirmation within 24 hours.

Need to ask a few more questions? You can contact me HERE.


You’ve wanted to do this for a long time.

How about now?

 

 

Not  sure about signing up but want to stay in touch?

You can sign up for my weekly, mini-newsletter, “Something to Consider,” HERE.

 

*Refund Policy:
Full refund available up to two weeks prior to start of workshop (June 3).
Partial refund (payment minus $75) available up to one week prior to start of workshop (June 10).
No refunds after June 10.