Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Popular Fiction: Presentation and Workshop Samples


The Future is Next Week – The eBook

Magdalen Braden, James Patrick Kelly, Malissa Kent, Michael Kimball, Mur Lafferty (panel)

Adam Gallardo, Kendall Giles, Derek Hoffman, Taylor Preston (E-Book Pioneers)

E-Readers and E-Books are here to stay, and the technology expands and changes every day. E-Publishing now gives writers access to two major functions of publishing that have long been held by the industry: production and distribution. As part of Stonecoast’s ongoing commitment to stay ahead of the e-publishing curve, our new STONECOAST E-TEAM presents a dynamic panel discussion.

The Future is Next Week – The eBook

1) The Book: Will E replace Paper?

2) Now that we all can e-Publish our masterpiece (or rough draft), why wait?

3) How-to: The basic steps of ePublishing your eBook

4) Marketing your work in the E-World

5) New and growing opportunities in the eWorld: editorial, marketing, consulting, audioBook, comic book, ACX, ePublishing, etc

Writing Fairy Tales

Theodora Goss

If we live in the future, why do we keep reading and writing fairy tales?  Tales such as “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White, and “Sleeping Beauty” go back hundreds and in some cases thousands of years, yet they are more popular than ever.  We see them in poetry, both literary and popular fiction, graphic novels, television shows, and films.  In this presentation, we will discuss the history of fairy tales, from the oral versions to literary fairy tales by writers such as Charles Perrault, Madame de Beaumont, and the Brothers Grimm.  We will examine how modern writers such as Anne Sexton, Angela Carter, and Jane Yolen transform that tradition, and ask how we can write our own contemporary fairy tales.  What makes fairy tales so powerful that we still tell them, after all this time?  And how can we, as writers, create fairy tales of our own that participate in this ancient literary genre while making it relevant to us and our era?

Whodunnit?  How? And Why?: Writing the Murder Mystery

Joanne Dobson           

While curiosity and suspense drive all storytelling, the urgent narrative momentum generated by the central queries of the murder mystery (with their compelling insistence on good old-fashioned resolution) provides an irresistible reading experience. 

This presentation will provide a brief history of the murder mystery genre, differentiate it from the thriller or the novel of suspense, and tease out its various subgenres, from the coziest of the cozy to the grimmest of sociopolitical critiques.  Do you wish to amuse readers?  Comfort them?  Inform them?  Disconcert them?  Horrify them?  The mystery genre provides the page-turning conventions to do so.

Discussion time will provide opportunity to explore your particular genre interests, as well as to study Walter Mosley’s use of genre conventions to create a compelling, relevant, accessible and politically urgent historical novel. 

How to Write a Novel in 30 Days

Cat Valente

Nanowrimo and other online novel-writing workshops have done a great deal to bolster the idea of speed writing. But how do you write fast while maintaining a high level of quality? We’ll discuss tactics for achieving wordcount, preparation, quality control and post-30 days editing as well as myths about fast writers and how to train yourself so that marathons like this become repeatable strategies. Hugo-nominee Valente has written several novels using these tools.

The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe

Nancy Holder

In the first issue of Amazing Stories (April 1926) editor Hugo Gernsback attempted to define science fiction and included this line: “By ‘scientifiction’ I mean the Jules Verne, H G Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe type of story." Having inspired both Verne and Wells, Poe is correctly characterized as a “central founder of Genre SF.”  (The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: This presentation will focus on Poe as science fiction author and investigate how his work influenced the field of speculative fiction. 

Books to Games: The Art of Game Design

Jay Libby

As writers we spend most of our time coming up with great characters, plots and settings. We draw people into our worlds and hope they want more. But what happens after you’ve published that great novel when the hype dies down? Go to the next step: make it a game! The world of game design is at our doorstep. The game industry is a great side profession for any Pop Fiction writer. Most double as writers for both games and TV novels, like Aaron Rosenberg, who has written Star Trek novels and the now famous Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game. All it takes is a lot of passion for the hobby and patience. Not every game you design or every book you write is going to be an instant hit.

In this presentation we will discuss the audience, types of games, building your game from a piece of fiction and where to get started once you’ve finished the project.

True Crime

Michael Kimball, Lt Detective Bill Harwood, Deputy Chief, Ret.Joseph K. Loughlin, Scott Wolven

How is technology changing police investigative work? How do you know if you’re being lied to? When do you inform suspects of their Miranda rights? How useful are DNA and fingerprints? What psychological tricks do you use in the interview room? What TV shows get it right? Bring your questions about police work to this stimulating, fact-filled 90-minute session with crime writers Michael Kimball and Scott Wolven, and their special guest Joseph K. Loughlin, a 27-year veteran of the Portland Police force and co-author of the 2006 Edgar-nominated book Finding Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine.

Writing and Marketing the 10-Minute Play

Michael Kimball

With help from visiting (and volunteer) actors, playwright Mike Kimball will illustrate some essential elements of the compelling 10-minute play and share some secrets of how he gets his plays performed onstage. Topics to be covered will include: sketch vs. story; the barely naked stage; action, activity, and dialogue; character development; the three-act structure in miniature . . . and finding your theatre community.

Open to students of all genres; the lessons of live theatre and its unique demands can enlighten all forms of narrative. 

Agatha: Plotmistress Par Excellence

Kazim Ali, Boman Desai, Nancy Holder

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is arguably the finest of Agatha Christie’s fictions. Some call it the finest detective fiction ever written. This would be hyperbole if we were considering any other writer, but what is inarguable is that Christie has more contenders for the title than anyone else. Ackroyd wins only by the expedient of being the first in a long list of undisputed classics. The panel will discuss some of her techniques of indirection, including the unreliable narrator, and conclude with the concept of the closed box mystery. PLEASE read the suggested stories. They’re ALL short. Otherwise, you will have only yourself to blame for the disappointment of learning the endings during the panel instead of curled up in your favorite armchair burning midnight oil – and that would be criminal!