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A. S. (Anthea) Penne - Author

Writing Workshops

The Halfmoon Bay Writers' Workshop meets on a preset schedule Tuesday afternoons from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Though the name suggests otherwise, we meet in Sechelt and the intent is to present and discuss individual work with an eye to literary development.

The workshop is facilitated by A.S. Penne (Old Stones, Horsdal & Schubart, Victoria 2002; Reckoning, Turnstone, Winnipeg 2008) whose background includes an MFA (Creative Writing, UBC) and a B.Ed. A writing 'teacher' since 1980, she has worked with all ages in various capacities: elementary school teacher, college instructor, high school workshop facilitator, and adult workshop facilitator.

In this workshop we focus on presentations by several different writers each week, offering critiques by commenting on the particular strengths as well as posing questions about the writing sample. Participants are encouraged to be supportive and positive and to critique in an objective fashion without forcing personal opinions.

We work with fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting and journalism but are open to any form of literary writing. For more information as to location and cost, please contact penneink@gmail.com.

Workshop Protocol

A successful writers’ workshop operates on the give and take of participants, and though you may think you’re coming only to learn about your own work, you’ll learn as much from listening and responding to others’ writing.  It’s a fine skill when you can accurately access what you’re feeling in response to someone’s writing.  Putting that response into a verbal description is an even finer skill.

As in real life, workshops thrive on the interaction of the group, learning how to express your own opinion as well as hearing – and considering – the opinions of others.  The aim of the workshop is to help writers fine tune their work.  With this in mind, participants are asked to put themselves in the presenter’s shoes before responding. Better to ask questions (e.g., What did you mean by….? or I’m not sure what’s going on here – can you explain this a little? or I didn’t understand this part….. etc) than offer advice (e.g., I would have done it this way…; or, Why don’t you do it like this…?). The exception, of course, is when the author asks for advice.  Even then, however, I encourage authors to take home what they hear, to sit with any suggestions in order to ‘feel’ how (or if) they fit with the piece in question.

A workshop should also inspire lots of questions.  If you find yourself wondering about something in a piece of writing, it’s likely that someone else is wondering about it too.  In fact, some of our best sessions have segued off from a piece of writing and developed into a philosophical discussion about some aspect of life!

As the facilitator, I steer the discussions, trying to keep a positive tone and manage any difficulties that arise by focusing specific questions back to the writing.  I also mark the manuscript with editing notes for the author to take home and use (or not).


© A.S. Penne | penneink@gmail.com

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