Saturday Workshop: How To “Get More” Out of Any Literature

Which of these statements describes you best?

  • I like reading for fun.
  • I’m interested in reading and analyzing literary prose or poetry.
  • I’m interested in writing literary prose or poetry.
  • I’m interested in writing better literary prose or poetry.
  • I’ve tried reading literary fiction — but some/most of it goes over my head.
  • I’ve tried creative writing — but struggle to put the good ideas in my head down on paper.
  • I have to/want to take a literature or creative writing course — but the idea scares me to death.

If one or more of these statements resonate with you, or describes you and your current situation, come to our Saturday CRW Workshop February 9 to learn some writing/reading “secrets” that will improve your reading, your writing, and your quality of life.

MFA and GCC Creative Writing Instructor Gary Lawrence will lead a very participative workshop on “getting more” out of any literature – either more entertainment and appreciation, or more tools to help make you a better reader and creative writer (the two are intimately connected). We’ll use a 10-question reusable template to “break open” a prose short story – and then use this same short story as an example of points made. Time permitting, we’ll use a second short story to “test” your understanding and application of the ideas presented.

Among the things we’ll explore in this two-hour workshop are:

  • A creative writer’s mantra: “Read like a writer. Write for the reader.”
  • Ten standard questions to ask to get more out of any literary piece (the keys to the “science” behind a better literary analysis and uncovering more writing tools).
  • The difference between a literary analysis (understanding better/quicker what a piece “means”) and a creative writing analysis (discovering writing craft methods to write better yourself).
  • Reading comprehension level, and why it matters.

The workshop plan includes a mix of presentation, reading, analysis, discussion and (at least a little) writing. You’ll walk away with the reusable 10-question template, a better understanding of how literature “works,” and a few tips to make you a better writer.  Literary critics or writers of any genre will benefit from the methods, techniques, and ideas presented and discussed.  The workshop is free and open to the public.

  • Who: Gary Lawrence, MFA – GCC Instructor
  • What: How to “Get More” Out of Any Literature
  • When: Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 10:00 am to noon
  • Where: Language Arts building, GCC Campus (LA 141)
  • Why: Because this workshop will make you a better reader, writer, and person.

Workshop materials and handouts:


Gary Lawrence currently teaches creative writing online for GCC: Introduction to Creative Writing (CRW150), Introduction to Writing Fiction (CRW170), and Intermediate Fiction Writing (CRW270). Until recently he also taught composition courses at GCC and at Cochise College (Sierra Vista). Gary’s also a prize-winning, published short story author (Feast,Rockford Writer’s Guild, Short Story America, Four Chambers, Mirage, Canyon Voices). In 2011 Gary earned an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He issued his first collection of short stories, Baffled, in 2013. He is currently working on a second story collection.

November Events & Highlights

With October behind us, it’s time to look at all the great November events and news relevant to CRW at GCC.

Spring classes are open and ready to be filled. We have our usual stalwarts of CRW150, CRW160, and CRW170. Plus, we also have more unique and special offerings like CRW202: Witness Writing and CRW251 – Worldbuilding. Whether you’ve taken courses with us before, or you’re thinking of taking that first step, we have plenty to offer. See our full list of offerings and course descriptions here: Spring 2019 Classes.

Our final Saturday workshop for Fall 2018 lands this weekend on November 3rd. Laura White, in all her clever glory, presents Fight Die Love: The Hardest Scenes to Write.  In this workshop, which is free and open to all, Laura will talk about scene doctoring, making sure you get the most out of your prose, be it short-form fiction, long-form fiction, or creative nonfiction.

Our annual Poetry & Prose Slam falls on Wednesday, November 14th from 7 to 9PM. Come read your work, come win some money, and come have fun at GCC after dark. The competition is open to the public, GCC student and non-student alike. There’s money on the line! Stay tuned for more details and guidelines, coming very soon.

The Magical Library writing competition, put on by the kind and creative folks in GCC’s library, ends on Friday, November 2nd. They’re accepting short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry incorporating the theme of “magical library”–all interpretations welcome, but only GCC students may submit.

The Traveler, GCC’s Arts & Literary Magazine, is still accepting submissions for this year’s issue. The Traveler accepts short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and one-act plays, but only GCC students may enter. The deadline is November 18th! For full guidelines, and to submit online, head here: Submit to the Traveler!

And not to be outdone, the Maricopa Community Colleges are holding an even bigger contest: The District Writing Competition. If you’re a student at any of Maricopa’s community colleges, you’re eligible to enter. Much like The Traveler, you can submit your short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and one-act plays. So, whatever you decide to submit to the Traveler you should also submit to the District Writing Competition! Enter here!

Know of a creative writing or artistic event taking place in November? Let us know and we’ll add it to the calendar.

Saturday Workshop – Fight Die Love: The Hardest Scenes to Write

Whether it’s Negan laying down the law with Lucille, Luke looking into Anakin’s eyes for the first and the last time, or Harry confessing his love to Sally as the New Year’s Eve ball drops, these types of scenes carry great energy and purpose, but a heavy pen can lead to unwanted melodrama or sentimentality. In many ways, fight scenes, death scenes, and loves scenes are the hardest to write, but they are so often necessary for the stories we want to tell. In the “Fight Die Love” workshop, attendees will review and emulate techniques used by writing professionals from a diverse range of genres.

Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Entirely unimpressive refreshments will probably be provided.

  • What & Who: Fight, Die, Love: The Hardest Scenes to Write, with Laura White
  • When: Saturday, November 3rd from 10:00AM to 12:00PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because it’s the last Saturday workshop for Fall semester, and you need one last fix to tide you over until February!

Saturday Workshop: Tricks & Treats of Genre Writing

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Feral cat, looming cheese curd, night

October is an important month. There’s Halloween, Oktoberfest, both National Pizza and Pretzel Month (not to be confused with National Soft Pretzel Month which, as we all know, is in April), National Kick Butt Day (which, sadly, seems more about kicking bad habits and not about, you know, kicking actual butts), and who can forget National Feral Cat Day which follows closely on the heels of National Cheese Curd Day, and how October has the wonderful internal contradiction of being both National Caramel Month and National Dental Hygiene Month, and then there’s the classic National Transfer Money to Your Daughter Day, and National Writing Day on the 20th and National Bologna Day on the 24th and…

What was I talking about?

Right, well, now there’s another important holiday: National Come to a Saturday Morning Creative Writing Workshop Day. We have the perfect choice, too, as Jayme Cook dives into genre writing and offers strategies and activities for building suspense, developing mood, and creeping out an audience.

  • What & Who: Tricks & Treats of Genre Writing, with Jayme Cook
  • When: Saturday, October 13th from 10:00AM to 12:00PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because the day before was National Pulled Pork Day and you need to work off some calories.

Saturday Workshop: Who Are Your Characters?

Aaaaaaand, we’re back for the 2018-2019 academic year. If you’re a newly-subscribed follower of the blog, welcome! If you’ve been with us for a while, welcome back! If you have no idea why you’re on this page or receiving an email notification, consider our meeting destiny/fate/true love and be welcome too. For our first event of the year, Jeff Sanger is going to put on a free Saturday workshop. Description and details below. Hope to see you there!


Certainly, you have an idea who your story is about, but do you know what your protagonist’s favorite color is? If they were sentenced to death, what would they order for their last meal? Trivial considerations? Perhaps. But the better you, the author, know your characters, the more fully they come through on the page for your reader. And readers across all genres love vivid characters. But how do you learn more about your characters? Can your characters be further revealed to you as you write about them? Many writers believe they can.

Even if you know your characters well, the other challenge, of course, is delivering this information to your audience, making sure they understand who your characters really are. Page after page of exposition (telling) about your characters typically leads to a disinterested audience that puts the story down unfinished, that outcome every writer fears. How do you show your readers who your characters are?

Visit our characterization themed Saturday workshop to implement some proven techniques to learn more about your characters and bring them to life on the page.

  • What & Who: Who Are Your Characters?, with Jeff Sanger
  • When: Saturday, September 8th from 10:00AM to 12:00PM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Power! Unlimited power!

Saturday Workshop: Using the Dramatic Arc

You’ve got a story to tell! You know what you want the audience to take away from your work. The question is, how do you keep them engaged along the way? Whether you’re writing a short story, a novel, or even a play, tightening up your plot using the dramatic arc as a guide can lead to greater reader engagement with your work. In this workshop we’ll learn about how the dramatic arc works and how you can use this knowledge to create a riveting plot in any work of fiction.

  • What & Who: Using the Dramatic Arc – How to Keep Your Audience on the Edge of Their Seats, with Jeff Sanger
  • When: Saturday, April 14th from 9:30AM to 11:30AM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Kittens
cat-sangerworkshop

Saturday Workshop: Bringing Order to Chaos

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion begins in her seminal essay, “The White Album.” The essay explores a time in her life in which stories no longer make any sense. What happens when our stories stop making sense, when the narratives we carry, the experiences we’ve had, no longer feel like they’re enough? We do live in a world of chaos, lives of chaos, and if you’re anything like me that chaos can reflect on the page in a way which can seem confusing and daunting, lacking any structure and coherence.

Is it possible to bring order to the chaos, make it work on the page? Let’s take a look at some authors who have struggled with this very dilemma, have struggled during difficult times to stay afloat and have turned their personal, emotional, and external chaos into beautiful and moving collages that tell a story that moves beyond a single threaded narrative. Let’s explore our own scattered materials and see if we can find where the pieces fit on the page.

As always, our Saturday workshops are free and open to the public. Homemade pastries baked at a grocery store completely unaffiliated with GCC will be provided. Probably.

  • What & Who: Bringing Order to Chaos, with David Martinez
  • When: Saturday, March 3rd from 9:30AM to 11:30AM
  • Where: GCC Main Campus, Room LA-141
  • Why: Because who doesn’t want to birth a dancing star?

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