Choosing the Best Genre for Your Personal Story: Fiction or Non-fiction
We will do a set of exercises designed to reveal the most effective genre for you to tell your personal story. Will your literary personality and your project be best served with a non-fiction memoir or autobiographical fiction? The workshop is specifically designed to help you make this choice before you are 100 pages into the project. You can’t just say, “You know, I think I’ll change the names and call this fiction instead,” half way through a memoir! The ingredients of each genre are very different, and my workshop is designed to save participants time and anguish.
Writing the Sexy, Literary Best-Seller: James Joyce meets Judith Krantz
What happens when a writer applies the Homeric initial style or the Uncle Charles Principle from James Joyce to a legal thriller? Or T.S. Eliot’s spatial form as structure to the plot of a slasher novel? Who says we can’t have a bodice-ripper with Booker Prize writing? In this two-day workshop, I will ask writers to attempt a true hybrid: a best seller with literary merit. Through a series of prompts and exercises, the workshop will encourage participants to combine the best fictional techniques of the masters (from Thomas Hardy to Toni Morrison) with the narrative strategies common to best sellers (from Gone with the Wind to Jaws).
Even modest commercial success is elusive for most published writers of well-crafted literary fiction. Lionel Shriver lost money on the six novels she published over fifteen years before she had a heady commercial success and best seller, which also won the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction. An excellent stylist and perceptive thinker finally combined her skills with, albeit accidentally, the criteria for a best selling novel.
High-level writing has already been applied to best-selling commercial fiction in the mystery genre. Several creative writing professors, like Pulitzer Prize-nominated James Lee Burke, have applied sophisticated and challenging fictional techniques to that genre, thus raising the bar and selling millions of books and movie rights in that field.
This workshop will show you how to produce a literary masterpiece while giving your novel a shot at commercial success. No writer is born knowing the best strategies of the famous commercial page-turners or how to produce Pulitzer Prize prose. Start arming yourself with this workshop.
Susan Sutliff Brown, Ph.D. is a professional private editor and book doctor of published and critically acclaimed fiction and memoir. She brings thirty-five years of teaching college creative writing and twenty years of private book editing to her workshops.
In addition, as a published James Joyce scholar, she offers a working background in literary history and the finest models from the literary canon to help her students learn their craft. As much a mid-wife as a book doctor, her bliss is helping writers give birth to their fiction and non-fiction projects. She is also a grandmother, a go-go dancer, a traveler, a fool for real French bread, a theater goer, and a lover of the post-Impressionists and Abstract Impressionism.
Acknowledges and comments from clients
“Thank you Susan Brown, PhD and James Joyce scholar, my brilliant and talented editorial consultant who did such a fine job in helping me prepare the manuscript.” Lola Cohen, The Lee Strasberg Notes (2010, Routledge)
“Learning to write with Susan Brown is like learning to dance with Balanchine. She’s a great teacher who can discern hidden talent in her students, particularly the insecure ones. Just as Balanchine brought out the unique peculiarities of his ballerinas, Susan Brown works magic with words. She showed me how to choreograph my clauses and weed out my weaknesses.” Allegra Kent, author of Once a Dancer by (1997, St. Martin’s Press)
“A word of deep gratitude to the inestimable Susan Sutliff Brown who kept me writing and rewriting when I felt like giving up and who is one of the finest mentors anyone could wish to have.” Walking at Sea Level by Richard Kearney, Professor Richard Kearney, Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College (1997, Hodder and Stoughten)
“It was Susan Brown who kept me going. Thank you, Susan, for your valuable classes, editing, and encouragement. But mostly thank you for your wisdom and understanding about what is and isn’t truth.” Susan Richards, New York Times best-selling author of Chosen by a Horse (2008, Soho Press)
“Susan Brown has a way of making writing fun. She can sort of nudge you to reach into places you never knew you wanted to explore, and then mine gold from them. Every sentence I have written in her workshops is better than it would have been without her. Hats and Eyeglasses owes so much to her deft editing and enthusiasm.” Martha Frankel, author, Hats and Eyeglasses (2008, Penguin Group)
“Susan Brown, no superlative seems good enough. She remembers everything you’ve ever written, even when you don’t, understandings everything, even when you don’t want to, and demands everything, when you need it most. If that weren’t enough, she’s also the Billy the Kid of story structure: fastest organizational mind around. Who’d want to send out a manuscript without having her read it first?” Rivka Tadjer, author Two Weeks Under (2008, Author House & The Conversation Group)
Editor Susan Brown has warmth (a gooey word but she has it), integrity and mind-boggling expertise. She doesn’t just suggest, she instructs and she’s right on the mark. You want to rush right home and revise and insert. She raises one’s writing to a higher level than you would believe. I’m so happy to have had the privilege of working with her. Alice Stern, prize winning short story writer