Workshop Descriptions

Each workshop is limited to no more than eight participants. All workshops gather as a group each morning in the Casa courtyard for daily announcements and short readings from interviews with writers on their craft. We then break into separate workshops located in scenic spots around the hacienda’s gardens, and within Casa Dracula’s legendary spaces.

With a short break, the 3-hour session concludes and everyone is free to take lunch nearby at the wonderful Cafe La Esquina, or at any of the restaurants a short walk away in town. Afternoon seminars and night time events are a valuable part of the TSWW experience, but optional, and afternoons and evenings are free for beach walks, town explorations, pub crawls and, of course, quiet time for homework.

Click on each instructor’s name below for bios.

Gordon Chaplin – Fiction

I favor working from a manuscript-in-progress, though some free-form writing exercises will be included to loosen things up.  Manuscripts of ten pages minimum should be submitted to me a month or so in advance. I will be happy to answer questions by phone or email before classes start.  In the six-day workshop, each student will begin by reading to the group, followed by discussion and critique led by me but including everyone’s comments. Students will then rewrite or even start over if they want. A final reading, discussion, and criticism of the new work will conclude the workshop. We will be dealing with choice of language, form, tone, character and plot development…all the components of good fiction. Inspiring outside reading will be suggested. Flexibility is key.

Merrill Feitell – Strategies in Storytelling 

Whether working in fiction or nonfiction, at some point in the writing process, the writer must take stock of the material making its way onto the page, interpret the tea leaves left by the imagination, and determine which of the many tools available to the writer might best work to harness the heart of the story and best transmit it to the reader. Throughout the week, students will engage in a series of writing exercises, discussions of narrative techniques, and brief assigned readings, generating new material (or revising an existing draft) to be workshopped by the group in the final days.

Jeanne McCulloch – Memoir

Memoir creatively spins the stuff of one’s personal life into a story.   This is a three-part process:  first hearing, then trusting, and finally shaping one’s own voice into a compelling narrative.  Through a series of writing prompts and class feedback,  students in the TSWW memoir workshop will be guided and supported as they craft their own stories.   Selections from recently published memoirs will be assigned for class discussion on occasion, and will be available all week to borrow.   Students need not have a story in mind when they come to class, but they should expect to leave with one or two or more by week’s end.

Christopher Merrill – Poetry 

In my poetry workshop we will generate new poems, discuss a range of exemplary texts, and consider how best to make poetry central to our busy lives. This will be a space in which to stretch our wings—and fly.

 Rex Weiner – Non-fiction

Creative non-fiction, non-fiction, journalism—call it what you will, it may be an idea you’ve harbored for some time, a project started and stalled, or a completed work that needs an overhaul. A short excerpt or newly generated piece of writing is required for daily reading and critiquing within the group. Advancing the work each day, with individual “homework” assigned to be completed, we will focus on sharpening perception, choice of subject matter, crystalizing what your project is “about,” structuring the work effectively for your editor, your reader, and for yourself, and discovering the personal passion that will drive you to write, complete, and present your work.

Writers Ellen Waterson and Jonathan Penner are available for one-on-one mentoring sessions by appointment for an additional fee ($50/hr)