I've taught writing at four universities, at conferences, and privately for three decades. Workshops meet in a lovely space a short walk from the Jenkintown/Wyncote SEPTA regional rail station, just outside Philadelphia. Snacks are provided.
2018 WORKSHOPS with spaces remaining
1. February Workshop: FINDING YOUR GOLD
For someone inclined to write, any powerful, formative experience is a nugget of gold. By working from that material, you can create moving stories that forge a strong bond with readers. So what are the stories that only you can tell, because of what life has given you? Through my talks, several guided exercises, and our discussions, you'll deepen your story resources.
Saturday, February 24, 1 to 4 p.m., with a walking break and snacks. $100
2. February Workshop: THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD
The voice in a piece of writing is the amazing living thing that comes off the page and inhabits us. Writers can create many—perhaps innumerable—voices. What voices might you have access to now? Are there voices you haven’t let out, or familiar ways of speaking that may be distinctive to your family or cultural environment, or characters? Through talks, guided exercises, and discussion, we'll bring more voices to the page.
Sunday, February 25, 1 to 4 p.m., with a walking break and snacks. $100
3. Spring Workshop: DISCOVER AND REFINE YOUR STORY STRUCTURE
What is the premise of your story, memoir, or your novel? How do you get to the heart of what you want to reveal and create a structure that reveals this? This workshop will guide and support you in answering these questions and building a story structure that can carry you to the end of your manuscript. Open to those with manuscripts at any stage, from idea to full draft. We'll examine what a story premise is, discuss our own premises, and engage in structuring efforts (including trying out several methods in the group) to get at the heart of what we want our stories to reveal. We'll also troubleshoot other challenges we face in moving stories forward. Janet will offer guidance on issues of craft, process, confidence, getting past blocks, and other concerns. She'll also provide methods to help you work at home in a writing diary. Handouts will supplement our meetings.
Three Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with snacks. April 7 and 21 and May 5. $300.
4. Spring Workshop: THE WRITERS' TOOLKIT
Do you have all the tools you need to craft memorable fiction? This workshop offers a chance to learn or polish fundamental skills for writing powerful fiction. Through interactive talks and exercises created and tested over decades of teaching, you'll learn about crafting plots, creating convincing settings, writing genuine dialogue, forging complex characters, using sensory details, exploring voices, and understanding and utilizing points of view. Includes a half-hour private session with Janet, in person or on the phone, on your work in progress.
Six sessions of 3 hours, with a walking break and snacks. Weekly on a weekday in April and May, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Let me know what weekday is best for you. $600.
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PAYMENT POLICY: A commitment to take a workshop is a commitment to pay in full. Fees are nonrefundable except in the case of a medical emergency. In other circumstances, no refunds are offered for classes missed.
WHAT STUDENTS SAY
"I call it the Benton standard, and it has clearly worked for me." --Pam Jenoff, bestselling novelist
"You helped me to explore a creative side that I could never unleash on my own. You showed me how to become a risk-taker. You challenge me." --Kimberley Jones, teacher
"Janet is knowledgeable, engaging, and approachable. She pushes me to challenge myself as a writer and never settles for anything less . . . She reminds me to tell a compelling story. Her workshops have been the best learning experiences I've ever had. Janet has a special ability to draw from her students their best attributes, while encouraging them to continue improving their deficiencies." --Elvedine Wilkerson, retired school principal
"Janet is a diplomat and handles her students well--while still maintaining control, she lends an air of empathy and sensitivity." -- student evaluation, Temple Center City
"This course has been one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. Janet Benton is a superb teacher!" -- student evaluation, University of the Arts
JUMP-START YOUR WRITING Craft discussion, guidance, and in-class writing prompts to deepen your work in progress. Janet tailors the topics to the needs of workshop members.
CLASSIC FICTION WORKSHOP Craft guidance, in-class writing, two dates for work submission (up to 15 double-spaced pages), detailed written feedback, and snacks.