Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Creative Collaboration: Presentation Samples


Film Adaptation: Taking a Text and Making it Cinematic (C)

Dianne Lake

Increasingly, the best films each year are adaptations—and more than half the films made each year come from novels, short stories, newspaper articles, memoirs, etc.  The process of writing a screenplay is hard enough—it’s a very concise form full of rules that can often feel constricting. When you add to that the process of delving into another text to mine the story, it becomes even more complex. What’s involved at looking at a text and transforming it for the screen? Should the novelist, for example, tackle his/her own novel and try to adapt it for film? What are the pitfalls to be aware of if one chooses to go that route?

Required Reading:

Jule Selbo, Gardner's Guide to Screenplay: From Idea to Successful Script (Gardner's Guide series) (Feb 1, 2007) [available on Amazon]

Diane Lake, “The Legacy of FRIDA: Adapting Frida for the Screen” [available online at]

Films to watch prior to coming to class: Ever After, The Hours

The Synergy of Listening: Poetry / Jazz Improvisation (CC)

Gil Helmick

A key insight into improvisation is stated simply. To improvise with others assumes that each artist has refined their art and their ability to perform. Therefore, the most important element to improvisation, on this or the larger stage of existence, is the ability to listen. During the residency, we will listen, write and perform together.

Required Listening:

A jazz collection  -- Perhaps Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”

A classical collection  -- Perhaps Bach Concerto #1

A collection of rhythm and blues instrumentals -- Perhaps John Fahey, “Blind Joe Death”.

Three pieces that you consider your best work. Listen to them in silence.

Three pieces that you consider your best work.  Listen to them while listening to selections from each of the above collections.

ELIZABETHAN DRAMA: Using Acting Techniques from the Stage to Create Characters on the Page (C, CC)

Elizabeth Hand and Elizabeth Searle


In this interactive/ ‘acting’ presentation, Liz Hand and Elizabeth Searle will guide students through ‘acting class’ exercises that can enhance their development of character in their own fiction.  Making use of theatrical texts and technique, student volunteers will ‘act out’ monologues and more based on their own work and will analyze theatrical excerpts from Shakespeare and exercises drawn from Michael Chekhov and the Stanislavski method.  Liz and Elizabeth will perform brief sample monologues based on their fiction.  No acting experience necessary and only willing volunteers will act in front of the entire group.  But each student will come to the seminar with a short 'monologue' from their own fiction. 

Volunteer student performers will act out some of these monologues for the class and the students will pair up to read aloud each others' works and to do ‘dialogue scene’ exercises. Readings will include works that explore the role of movement and ‘method acting’ in developing character.  This presentation is open to adventurous fiction writers of all stripes. All the world is a stage-- and techniques from the theatrical stage can transform your fictional works on the page.

Required Reading:


Read at least three ‘acting monologues’ from an online site and/or anthology (samples listed below):,...

**Related required exercise: come to the seminar with a short rough-draft ‘monologue’ from one of your own fiction works (can be only a paragraph or two, shaped to reveal and capture the character).

Read one or more of the Method exercises at the Theater Group:

Suggested Reading:

Michael Chekhov, On the Technique of Acting (also known as To the Actor: On the Technique of Acting)

Elizabeth Ashley, Actress 

Uta Hagen, Respect for Acting

Keith Johnstone, Impro: Improvisation and the Theater

Separated at Birth: Music and Writing (C, CC)

Boman Desai, Michael Kimball, Kelly Stuart 

Music has inspired writing as much as writing has inspired music, but all too often music is described in the blandest terms – wonderful, beautiful, exciting – addressing the feelings of the listener, but not the music itself. In PART ONE of this presentation, Boman will discuss ways in which to describe music using metaphor and analogy among other devices to help us identify music we may never have heard. In PART TWO, “What Music Taught Me About Writing,” Mike and Kelly will explore ways in which music and writing share the same aesthetic fundamentals, using examples from Bach, Barber, Bernstein, Lennon-McCartney, Mahler, Monk, Sinatra, and Waits to illustrate structure, setting, perspective, repetition, texture, anticipation, tension, climax, context, motif, rhythm and meter, plots and subplots, and the sexual experience. Come, listen, learn, enjoy.

Required Reading:

Readings to be posted on the ListServe alongside links to the music we will be discussing.

A is for Anthology - A Primer for Prospective Contributors and Editors (CC, P)

James Patrick Kelly, Cris Mazza, Elizabeth Searle, Suzanne Strempek Shea 

Have an idea for an anthology? Don’t have the first idea how to go about making it a reality? Neither did Suzanne and Elizabeth, but now their agent is shopping around “As The World Turns Restlessly To The Guiding Light of Our Lives: Bestselling Authors, Soap Opera Insiders and Longstanding Viewers Write About Their Shared Obsession,” an anthology proposal they recently finished putting together. Suzanne and Elizabeth have also appeared in numerous anthologies, as has Cris Mazza, who has edited three anthologies and appeared in ‘over 30.’   Jim has co-edited three anthologies and a fourth, “Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka,” will be published this Fall.

Together, Cris, Elizabeth, Jim and Suzanne look forward to sharing what they’ve learned along the way. They’ll talk about solidifying an idea, making a wish list of contributors, spreading the word, finding ways to reach your literary heroes for inclusion, writing up a proposal, editing sample chapters and pitching to an agent. For those interested in submitting to anthologies, there’ll also be info from both sides of the fence, as they’ve contributed to anthologies and will give advice on how to track down anthologies in progress as possible homes for your work, successfully contributing to such collections, as well as what anthology editors want to see from contributors.  

The presentation will include a step by step approach to making an Anthology Proposal 
as well as a brainstorming exercise and a discussion of how writers can band together to produce their own anthologies, as with our program’s Stonecoast Lines.

Students are asked to read either their own choice of a favorite anthology OR one of the anthologies listed below.  Then they are asked to briefly answer the following questions before the seminar and come prepared to discuss: 

*How well did you think the collection adhered to the theme?

*Would you have wanted to see less pieces in it? More?  

*Did the collection make you think of a particular piece you’re working on or inspire you in any way?

Required Reading:

Please read one favorite anthology of your choosing OR one of the following anthologies:

Elizabeth has a piece in:
- Now Write! Fiction Exercises from Today¹s Best Writers, edited by Sherry
            Ellis (Tarcher, 2006)
- Illuminating Fiction: Today’s Best Writers of Fiction, edited by Sherry
            Ellis (Red Hen Press, 2008)
- Don’t You Forget About Me: Contemporary Authors on the films of John
, edited by Jaime Clarke (Simon & Schuster, 2007)
- Lovers: Stories by Women, edited by Amber Coverdale Summerall (Crossing
            Press, 1992)

Suzanne has a piece in:
 -KnitLit (too): Stories from Sheep to Shawl...and More Writing about
, edited by Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf (Three Rivers Press, 2004)
 - The Walker Within edited by the editors of Walking Magazine (The Lyons
            Press, 2001)
 - Chicken Soup for the Mother & Daughter Soul: Stories to Warm the Heart
            and Honor the Relationship
, edited by Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield,
            Dorothy Firman and Julie Firman (HCI, 2003)
-  Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction
            Exercises from Today¹s Best Writers
, edited by Sherry Ellis (Tarcher, 2009)

Cris has edited:
Chick-lit: Postfeminist Fiction, and Chick-Lit 2: No Chick Vics.  (Both FC2:,2700.aspx,http://www.uapre...

Cris has her own pieces in:
The Art of Friction
Wreckage of Reason
Scoring from Second / Writers on Baseball :,673150.aspx

And Cris has a piece about her Chick-Lit experience in an 'anthology about anthologies':
On Anthologies:,672849.aspx

Finally: Cris has edited a forthcoming anthology from Dzanc Books which contains a piece by Elizabeth: Men Underdressed: Women Writers on Male Sexual Experience

Jim has edited:

The Secret History of Science Fiction, edited by James Patrick Kelly and

John Kessel, (Tachyon Publications, 2009)

Rewired, The Post‑Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by James Patrick Kelly and

John Kessel, (Tachyon Publications, 2007)

Feeling Very Strange, The Slipstream Anthology, edited by James Patrick

Kelly and John Kessel, (Tachyon Publications, 2006)

Jim has a piece in:

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 5, edited by Jonathan

Strahan (Night Shade Books, 2011)

Eclipse Four, edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books, 2011)

The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction, Arthur B. Evans, edited by Istvan

Csicsery‑Ronay, Jr., Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Rob Latham and  Carol

McGuirk, (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)

Creative Collaboration Workshop: “Hand-made Words: An Intro to Book Arts for Writers” (CC)

Jeanne Marie Beaumont and Linda Buckmaster

Handmade folded-and-stitched books, accordion books, altered books, visual poetry, broadsides, even matchbox charms are among the array of centuries-old and new options available to writers for presenting their work. Producing multi-dimensional texts by hand can give the writer control over the presentation of pieces, allow for exciting collaboration, and spark imagination. Using media and surfaces beyond computer and paper can expand how we approach the printed word.

In the first part of this workshop, panelists will talk about their experiences with the book arts and will show some of their work and the work of other artists. In the second half, participants will have the opportunity to try their hand at making a small book or “altering” an existing book. If you can, please bring a discarded hard-cover book and/or 8 sheets of paper.

Suggested Viewing: (“The Bonefolder”) (Exhibitions/gallery highlights) (“Winter Ink: 2008 Winter Book”)