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Course Descriptions

The Berkshire Writing Workshop 2013 — All workshops are July 14 – July 19

Finding the Story with Joan Wickersham

Fact into Fiction with Brendan Mathews

Both of this summer’s workshops are open to writers of all experience levels. Since the BWW’s focus is on the creation of new work, manuscripts submissions are not required. If you have questions about individual workshops or would like guidance in making a selection, please contact us at

Finding the Story

What is the story and how do I tell it? Any writer – no matter how seasoned – has to grapple with these questions, day after day, project after project. This workshop for fiction and memoir writers will focus on the challenge of finding the story and telling it in the most frank, compelling way possible. We will look at different techniques used by writers, as well as working from prompts suggested by our own lives and experiences, all with the goal of unlocking the stories that most urgently need to be told. By the end of the week we each will have found rich new resources to draw upon for future work.

Joan Wickersham_0137crop.jpegAbout the instructor: Joan Wickersham’s most recent book, The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story (Knopf) was named one of 2012’s best fiction picks by Kirkus Reviews and The San Francisco Chronicle. Her memoir The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was a 2008 National Book Award Finalist. She is also the author of a novel, The Paper Anniversary, and her fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and many other publications.

Joan writes a regular op-ed column for the Boston Globe and her pieces often appear in The International Herald Tribune. Her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on National Public Radio. She has taught at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and at Emerson College.

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Fact into Fiction

Fiction writers often draw upon memories, personal experiences, and family history as a source of inspiration. But how do you transform the way things actually happened into engaging and emotionally rich stories? In this workshop we’ll discuss techniques used by fiction writers to blend experience with imagination. During each session, we’ll write in response to prompts that allow you to experiment with character, voice, point of view, and structure. We will also discuss short stories by old masters and exciting new voices, and talk about reading in pursuit of inspiration and instruction – skills that can keep you on track long after the workshop is over. This workshop is designed as a kickstart for writers who need to shake off the rust, as well as for those deeply immersed in their writing but in need of a refreshing change of pace.

fiction.jpgAbout the instructor: An accomplished writer and educator, Brendan Mathews has taught fiction writing at Bard College at Simon’s Rock since 2007. His work has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2010 and in Virginia Quarterly Review, Epoch, TriQuarterly, Southern Review, and other US journals, and in the UK in PORT Magazine and the Manchester Review. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the University of Virginia, where he earned his MFA, and a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers Conference. In 2012, he was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Prior to Simon’s Rock, Brendan taught at the University of Virginia.

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