Fall Writing Retreat

October 21, 2019 Off By ShanghaiWriting

Hello Awesome Writers!

The Shanghai Writing Workshop is having its fall retreat from November 29th to December 1st. The main poster is below with a detailed schedule and list of abstracts following it. Let Ryan know if you’re interested in joining us! You can find him on wechat at texaswriter.


On the Tip of the Tongue: Translating Dialogue 

with Hannah Lund, an editor at Sixth Toneand member of translation teams for Blizzard’s Diabloas well as for Chinese television programs and films. 

Translators are like linguistic janitors: When they do their jobs well, you hardly notice the polish; but when something is out of place, it’s painfully obvious (and occasionally hilarious). But there is method to the madness, a lot of which comes down to writing and poetry. In this session, we’ll be looking at the types of wordplay and creative choices that make for snappy dialogue in translation. We’ll examine the art of a simple conversation and how to make it smooth. Chinese proficiency not necessary. Creativity a must. 

Diagnosing Bad Writing

with Ryan Thorpe, founder and director of the Shanghai Writing Workshop and an assistant teaching professor of writing at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute.

You wrote a bad story. It happens to everyone. You’re experienced enough to know that it’s bad, and it isn’t when just a little bad. It’s really bad. Your dog won’t look at you anymore because it’s so bad. In this talk, we will go through the process of trying to figure out what is wrong with a story nothing about it seems to be working. We will check on the vital signs of a story one at a time, checking to see what is keeping your story from being successful in the hope that at the end of it all, you might find yourself with something a little healthier and armed with a recovery plan of another draft.

Write What You Know: Exploiting Your Past to Make Some Money 

Morgan Shillingburg

Good writers often use their real-life experiences to inform their fiction based around those events. For example, Jack London literally drove a dogsled in the Yukon gold rush. Steinbeck was an honest-to-God hobo. Maya Angelou understood the caged bird as a black woman in the South and as a survivor of sexual trauma.  Vonnegut fled to an actual slaughterhouse’s meat locker during the bombing of Dresden. 

Other good writers manipulate their pasts to write good stories. Stephen King wrote about writers tortured by horrible monsters while battling cocaine and alcohol addiction. The volcanic winter in the summer of 1819 created Shelly’s gothic tone in Frankenstein.

Morgan Shillingburg leads us in a self-reflective group discussion activity designed to help writers build on their backgrounds to create better, more personal stories. Many stories feel like an interesting adventure to their writers, but these stories can open doors to worlds where whole novels can take place.

Character Creation Plus with Michael Lee Robinson, Founder of WordNinja

Characters in our stories can become portraits of emotion, longing, and unmet needs. They can also frustrate readers, leaving them unsatisfied or, at worst, take readers out of the story entirely. How can an author build to buil characters that bring out the best–or worst–in each other?

This talk will aim to help writers create vivid characters of all kinds, from fan-favorite protagonists to wicked villains. Watch your audience cheer as authors will learn to:

– Fulfill and subvert reader expectations with tools of modern psychology 

– Create a personal rogues gallery of the troubled, flawed, and suffering  

– Empower their characters by tapping the well of personal experience

Editing for Publication with Ryan Thorpe

So you wrote a good story, a story that you feel you really nailed. So what now? In my experience, the difference between a good story and a publishable story is not huge, but it is measurable. In this workshop, we will go through the steps of refining a work down to be submitted out and giving it that final level of polish to make it stand out and become the amazing story that you knew was in your head the whole time.

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