Craft of Writing

All posts in the Craft of Writing category

New Role at Writers Studio

Published October 20, 2018 by Philip Ivory

I’m pleased to announce I’ve been asked to assume a new role at the Tucson branch of Writers Studio. In addition to continuing to be a teacher on the intermediate level, I’ll be serving as assistant director and working closely with branch director Reneé Bibby. 

Here’s some info about the program and its philosophy, from our web site at writerstudio.com:

“The Writers Studio, founded in 1987 by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schultz, offers ongoing writing workshops — both on site and online — designed to help students discover and nurture their own voices. We welcome students at all stages, from those who have only dreamed of writing fiction or poetry to those with MFAs hungry for additional serious, ongoing instruction. Students provide the desire to write and the willingness to learn, and we provide the structure, the technical know-how, the professional feedback and the friendly community to enable them to reach their full potential.”

Janelle Drumwright, who has done an amazing job as Tucson branch assistant director for years, is relocating to another city. I hope I can carry on in her spirit and continue to bring the Writer Studio discipline and devotion to craft to students looking to expand and improve their skills. I’ll also be involved in outreach to potential students and planning of special events.

I started as a student in the program, and its emphasis on craft and the importance of creating a distinctive persona narrator for every piece of writing has been extremely helpful to me. It jump-started me after a long period of non-writing and put me on the road to getting work published. I can definitely attest to the program’s effectiveness.

New classes will be starting in January. Writers of all experience levels are welcome. Online classes are available as well as our in-person classes here in Tucson. Feel free to send me any questions about the program at philivory@writerstudio.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Story: Dr. Marsh’s Final House Call

Published September 8, 2018 by Philip Ivory

skylinesketch

I have a new short story appearing at Two Cities Review, titled “Dr. Marsh’s Final House Call.”

Read it here

Some back story: This piece originated from my participation in the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest earlier this year. In this contest, you are given a random challenge and deadline to complete it by.  The challenge includes three randomly assigned elements that you need to use to create your story: a genre, a thing or object, and a person.

The genre I was assigned was Ghost Story. The thing was a Power Outage, and the character was a Physician. You can judge for yourself how well I integrated these diverse elements.

If you subscribe to the philosophy, as I do, that limitations and parameters force a writer to be more creative, the NYC Midnight contests (short stories, flash fiction and screenwriting) are fun and useful. I didn’t win with this story. But by participating, I have produced two stories that have gone on to be published, which more than makes the contest worthwhile. (The other story was “How We Cured Racism,” published late last year.)

My thanks both to NYC Midnight and to Two Cities Review. I’ve written dark fiction before, but never a ghost story, so this was a great challenge for me and a lot of fun.

 

WYSa

 

 

Public Reading: “The Wonder That Was Ours” by Alice Hatcher

Published September 8, 2018 by Philip Ivory

I just attended a public reading by my friend Alice Hatcher of selections from her debut novel “The Wonder That Was Ours” at the east side Barnes and Noble here in Tucson. Alice did a fantastic job talking about her writing process and the evolution of her novel, which includes a wily set of cockroaches who provide outrageous narrative voices … hence the giant inflatable cockroach (see below) gracing the ceiling at B&N!

If you missed the reading but want to sample her novel, check out the generous excerpt in the current edition of Tucson Weekly. Buy the book at Barnes and Noble online.

Kudos also to Stephen Russell, seen standing in the last photo, another friend to Alice and manager at Barnes and Noble who along with his staff set up a wonderful community event. Stephen also celebrated his last day at Barnes and Noble today. Best wishes, Steve!

The event was a great success, standing room only with all of the available in-store copies sold. An exciting start for a significant new literary talent: My friend, Alice Hatcher.

 

Debut Novel by Alice Hatcher: The Wonder That Was Ours

Published September 4, 2018 by Philip Ivory

My good friend and fellow Tucson writer Alice Hatcher had her debut novel published today, The Wonder That Was Ours, and I couldn’t be more excited. Congratulations, Alice!

I’m eager to get my copy, because Alice is an awesome writer, who combines a sense of history and social awareness with wry humor and an ability to create compelling characters who are flawed but deeply human.

If you’re in Tucson, come out this weekend to see Alice read from her novel and take questions at Barnes and Noble at 5130 E. Broadway at 2 PM on Saturday, Sept. 8.

The Wonder That Was Ours won Dzanc Books’ 2017 Prize for Fiction and can now be ordered through Amazon.

A former academic historian, Alice has published stories, essays and poems in such places as Alaska Quarterly Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Notre Dame Review, Lascaux Review, Fourth Genre, Contrary, Chautauqua, and Gargoyle, among other journals.

Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire and The Daughters, says: “Hatcher’s unique narrators offer a bird’s-eye view of history, with all the glory and devastation that entails: an ambitious experiment that ends in an achingly compassionate achievement. This book is funny, warm, and piercingly intelligent―and it will probably break your heart.”

For more on Alice’s work, check out http://www.alice-hatcher.com.

Be sure to come out and meet her on Saturday. I’ll see you there!


 

Writers Studio Summer 2018 Intermediate Class

Published September 1, 2018 by Philip Ivory

I just completed teaching an 8-week summer session at Writers Studio Tucson. I had a great class with really talented students who worked extremely hard to develop their craft and produced some stunning material. Here we are meeting for a final pre-class bite at Brother John’s on Stone Avenue.

Writers Studio offers classes to help you develop your skills in writing fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. From our web site:

The Writers Studio, founded in 1987 by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schultz, offers ongoing writing workshops — both on site and online — designed to help students discover and nurture their own voices. We welcome students at all stages, from those who have only dreamed of writing fiction or poetry to those with MFAs hungry for additional serious, ongoing instruction. Students provide the desire to write and the willingness to learn, and we provide the structure, the technical know-how, the professional feedback and the friendly community to enable them to reach their full potential.

Our fall session starts in late September. Visit our web site at Writers Studio and sign up for a class today! If you don’t live in a city that offers in-person classes, try one of our online sessions.

Arizona Mystery Writers

Published April 19, 2018 by Philip Ivory

My thanks to my friends at Arizona Mystery Writers for inviting me on April 14 to deliver a reprise of the “Craft of Dark Fiction” lecture I gave for Writers Studio last December. My friend Bill Adams is a longtime member and accomplished writer who initially approached me about repeating this lecture for his group. My thanks to him and also to the group’s workshop chair Kay Lesh who made the arrangements with me.  Thanks also to another good friend and outstanding writer, Alice Hatcher, for helping with the audiovisual aspect of my lecture.

The lunch was tasty, the meeting was fun and the group was attentive and appreciative. I was speaking about horror fiction, which often intersects with mystery, although the two genres can also seem like two very different worlds.

Just for fun, I created and handed out the flyer below, a personal list but one that name checks examples of short writing in the dark fiction field that have impressed and influenced me. Check it out.

 

The Horror! The Horror! The Craft of Writing Dark Fiction

Published November 29, 2017 by Philip Ivory

Calling all Tucson-area writers and devotees of the scary and macabre! Come out and hear me, Phil Ivory, deliver a special free lecture at 2:30 on December 9, 2017 at the Himmel Park Library here in Tucson. It’s part of the Writers Studio lecture series. It should be fun, inspirational and a little bit scary!

DESCRIPTION:

From William Faulkner to Shirley Jackson to Margaret Atwood, writers have achieved memorable effects by putting characters in extreme situations and evoking sensations of fear, dread, awe and horror. In this Writers Studio lecture, we’ll look at horror not as something confined to the macabre shelf but as an emotion that will add power and resonance to any material regardless of genre. We’ll talk about using description to evoke a dark and lingering mood. Crafting the best narrator to evoke singular emotional effects. Laying groundwork for readers to have a powerful emotional experience while never telling them what to feel.

So take a writing journey to the dark side, and come back stronger than you were before.

 

Hope to see you there on Dec. 9!

And while you’re at it, why not sign up for one of our upcoming Writers Studio Winter classes?  Show the world how scarily creative you really are.

Essay Published … Sgt. Pepper at 50: What Can Writers Learn?

Published September 12, 2017 by Philip Ivory

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of perhaps the single most influential rock and roll album of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a leap forward in the popular conception of what a long-playing record could be and a zenith in the Beatles’ creative output.

I thought it would be illuminating to write an essay exploring some of the writerly techniques used by the Beatles in composing the record’s amazingly eclectic array of songs, focusing on insights that writers might apply to their own work.

The essay has been published at The Bookends Review, an independent creative arts journal. Read it here:

The Bookends Review
Sgt. Pepper at 50: What Can Writers Learn?
by Philip Ivory

Thanks for reading. Please share any comments below. And as the Beatles would say, “Sit back and let the evening go!”

 

 

 

Must-Read Horror

Published August 4, 2017 by Philip Ivory

For anyone interested in horror writing, this is a list published about a decade ago by the Horror Writers Association of must-reads in order to familiarize oneself with the genre. I must admit I have only read about a third of this list. It’s subjective, of course. I would definitely add Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Peter Straub and others. Shirley Jackson definitely belongs here, particularly and most egregiously since the list features only one woman, albeit in the most important, lead-off position. Hope this is stimulating, at least.

Twenty-One Horror Classics (list by Robert Weinberg*)
1. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson
4. The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James
5. Burn, Witch, Burn! by A. Merrritt
6. To Walk the Night by William Sloane
7. The Dunwich Horror and Others by H. P. Lovecraft
8. Fear by L. Ron Hubbard
9. Darker than you Think by Jack Williamson
10. Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
11. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
12. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
13. Richard Matheson: Collected Stories, Vols. I, II, III
14. Hell House by Richard Matheson
15. The October Country by Ray Bradbury
16. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
17. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
18. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
19. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
20. The Stand by Stephen King
21. Watchers by Dean Koontz

*source: “On Writing Horror: A Handbook b The Horror Writers Association” 2007 Writer’s Digest Books

Writers Studio 30th Anniversary Anthology

Published April 20, 2017 by Philip Ivory

The Writers Studio is the renowned creative writing program founded in 1987 in New York by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schulz. With its branches in NYC, San Francisco, Tucson, Hudson Valley as well as its online and “Kids Write” components, Writers Studio has been helping poets and fiction writers reach their potential for 30 years.

Through my work with Writers Studio as a student and now as a teacher, I’ve become more confident at developing strong narrative voices that take command of my creative material. Using effective narrators that help guide the reader through a satisfactory literary experience has helped me  publish multiple short pieces and make progress on a novel, a first draft of which I hope to complete later this year.

WS+Anthology+Cover

To celebrate its three decades of helping writers develop their craft, Writers Studio is releasing a 500-page 30th anniversary anthology, featuring nearly 100 hundred authors. The publisher is Epiphany Editions.

The Writers Studio at 30 features work by Writers Studio advisory board members Jennifer Egan, Robert Pinsky, Edward Hirsch, Grace Schulman, Matthew Klam, Carl Dennis, and Jill Bialosky, as well as 30 years of students and teachers from its creative writing classes.

I’m proud to be one of the authors featured, with a short fiction piece titled “Probably Last Meeting of the Bluebell Ridge II Homeowners Association.” It was previously published in The Airgonaut.

A celebratory reading will be held in New York on May 6 at the Strand Bookstore to mark the occasion. Wish I could be there, but traveling to NY is not in my budget right now.

The Writers Studio at 30 Anthology should be a great resource for anyone interested in enjoying a smorgasbord of strong narrative voices used in service to poems and stories containing wildly divergent subject matter. 

Until May 6, you can pre-order the anthology at a discounted price of $20.

Click here for Discount Pre-Order.

 

WYS