The inaugural Short Story America Festival and Conference is scheduled for September 21-23 in Beaufort. This three-day celebration of new and classic short stories will feature readings by top authors of short fiction as well as by Beaufort-based authors Katherine Tandy Brown and T.D. (Tim) Johnston (editor of the Short Story America series), and will also feature the stories of top writers like Beaufort’s Warren Slesinger, Martin McCaw (Walla Walla, Washington) and other contemporary writers of short stories. Here is a look at some of the seminars that will be offered.
Eric Witchey: Writing Stories (Three-Part Seminar)
• Part 1: “ED ACE and the ABCs of Character-driven Fiction” (Friday, 3 p.m., at Short Story America): In this hands-on seminar, teach and author Eric Witchey will lead discussion and exercises that help writers capture the tools he first presented in Writer’s Digest Magazine and The Writer Magazine.
• Part 2: “The Mystery of Voice”
(Saturday, 11 a.m., at USCB Center for the Arts): This fun, interactive seminar will unravel the mysteries of “voice.” This seminar is appropriate for all levels of development.
• Part 3: “Write a Short Story Now” (Sunday, 1 p.m., at Short Story America): This fun, fast-paced, audience-interactive seminar will demonstrate brainstorming, outlining and writing techniques that will result in a collaborative short story written on the spot by the presenter and the audience.
James Goertel: Beyond Description: Compelling Character Development through Dialogue (Saturday, 10 a.m., USCB Center for the Arts): Compelling characters spring forth from dialogue not description. The best short story writers understand that differentiating characters through dialogue is paramount to developing a relationship with the reader, especially over the tight timelines of the 5K to 15K word story. This workshop focuses on strategies and techniques for developing dialogue to create characters that have impact on the page and reflect the tics, quirks, and colloquial nature of authentic speech.
James Goertel: “Social Networking and Self-Publishing: The Bridge Between Story and Audience” (Saturday, 11 a.m., USCB Center for the Arts): The bridge between story and audience is what the writer must be constantly building while waiting on publishing gatekeepers. This bridge, if constructed effectively, can provide the opportunity to be read and to develop an audience in the meantime. With the explosion in affordable and professional self-publishing at every writers’ fingertips, the audience has immediate access to the writer’s work. This presentation will provide the insight into and practical application of these 21st century tools for today’s writers seeking to build an audience.
Marjorie Brody: “Out of the Workforce, On to the Page”
(Saturday, 1 p.m., USCB Center for the Arts): Have you recently retired, or long to do something else with your time? Do you dream of a career as a fiction writer? How can you make that dream come true? The good news: You already possess many skills that will ease the transition from a secure full-time job to the uncertain pursuit of story-telling. This interactive session will by-pass craft and focus on you and your writing vision. Whether you want to dabble in the field as a hobbyist or establish yourself as a professional, this workshop is designed to prepare you for that journey.
Katherine Tandy Brown: Plant a Seed, Start a Story (Saturday, 2 p.m., USCB Center for the Arts): When writers congregate, creativity simply crackles, and in this workshop, you can tap into the festival’s energy by penning the beginning of a short story or even a novel. Join Beaufort freelance writer Katherine Tandy Brown and fellow writers of all genres and levels of experience for a rousing round or two of writing practice based on Natalie Goldberg’s classic Writing Down the Bones. Through timed exercises from inspired prompts, you’ll end the hour with chunks of fiction in hand to jump-start longer pieces on your own. Who only knows where an inspired beginning may take you?
Gary Lawrence: Utterly Real: The Only Thing That Counts (Saturday, 3 pm, USCB Center for the Arts): “Utterly Real: The Only Thing That Counts,” is an analysis of how Ernest Hemingway managed time to great effect in “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”
Dr. Carl Eby: Hemingway’s Craft of the Short Story: “Indian Camp,” “A Canary for One,” and “The Sea Change” (Saturday, 4 p.m., USCB Center for the Arts): Carl Eby, international Hemingway scholar and chairman of the USCB Department of English, discusses three of Ernest Hemingway’s greatest short stories.
IF YOU GO: Short Story America Festival and Conference
Friday, September 21
• Opening Seminar by Eric Witchey from 3 to 5 p.m., Short Story America.
• Opening Reception, 6 to 9 p.m., Old Bay Marketplace Loft.
Saturday, September 22
• Readings, Seminars and Book Signings, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., USCB Center for the Arts.
• Evening Session and Authors’ Reception, 5:30 to 9 p.m., USCB Center for the Arts.
Sunday, September 23
• Part Three of Eric Witchey Seminar, 1 to 2 p.m., Short Story America.
• Children’s Story Hour, 2 to 3 p.m., Short Story America, in Beaufort Town Center on Boundary Street.
All-events passes are available for $35 for the entire festival by registering at www.eventbrite.com or by going to www.shortstoryamerica.com. You may also get passes directly from Tim Johnston at Short Story America, by calling him at 843-597-3220 or 843-524-7800, or at email@example.com.