Writing Violence in Literary Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: Are Your Violent Scenes Essential or Gratuitous?

How do we transcend the cliched and gratuitous fight scene when writing violence? How do we create a scene that will engage smart readers in critical, aware and rigorous ways? Writing violence in literary narratives is no different than any other scene, really. It is all about focusing on the character as unique. In this Writing Violence Workshop, we will explore scenes from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Alice Munro’s “Runaway” and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as character focused violence in literary fiction and creative nonfiction.

Writing Violence Goals

    • Identify the difference between writing gratuitous violence and writing essential violence within literature;
    • Identify language that elicits smart context within violent scenarios;
    • Explore the characters as human, flawed and unique;
    • Develop character-rich tensions within scenarios.

Writing Violence Course Format

Each week, you will have access to a new lesson. Work at your own pace. When you are ready for individualized feedback—developmental, line and end notes—from one of our faculty members, submit your work. Instructors have graduate degrees and professional publication experience in their workshop focuses. Participants may complete assignments anytime. We are open to English-speaking and writing participants both locally and globally and encourage gender and ethnic diversity in our workshops. 

Writing Violence Course Materials

Additional & Suggested Materials

Contributing Faculty

Rae Bryant, writing violence workshopRae Bryant is the author of the short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals. Her fiction, prose-poetry and essays have appeared in print and online at The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, Diagram, StoryQuarterly, McSweeney’s, New World Writing, Gargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications and have been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, &NOW Award and Pushcart Prize. She has won awards in fiction from Whidbey Writers and The Johns Hopkins University. She earned a Masters in Writing from Hopkins where she continues to teach creative writing and is editor in chief of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. She has also taught in the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa. She is represented by Jennifer Carlson of Dunow, Carlson and Lerner.

Why Online Writing Workshops?

Online writing workshops present the best of both worlds for creative writers: creative isolation and craft interaction. The New Yorker article by Louis Menand, “Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing be Taught?” proposes the perennial question of whether or not writers can be taught or must be born. Our stance at The Eckleburg Workshops is that writers can be shown many craft writing skills and be encouraged to explore voice through the practice of these skills as well as the observation of these skills in both master and developing narratives. It is our stance that creative writing can be sculpted and nurtured and is best taught by published authors and experienced writing teachers. This is what we give you in each and every writing course and in our One on One individualized manuscript sessions.

One on One Creative Writing Workshop

One on One Workshops | Fiction, Essay, Prose Poetry, Rae Bryant

Welcome to the One on One Creative Writing Workshop. Thank you for trusting us with your words. We look forward to reading your creative writing: fiction, short story, short short story, flash fiction, essay or prose poetry. In this workshop, you will work individually with a published author, editor and creative writing professor in your work’s discipline. In this creative writing workshop, you will receive developmental edits, line edits, end comments and a phone chat that will focus on your authentic voice, your original intentions and the work’s strengths and needs.

Submit Your Fiction, Essay, Prose Poetry or Excerpt

This may be a shorter creative writing work–short story, flash fiction, prose poetry, excerpt–or it could be a longer work–collection, novel or memoir. We look forward to reading your words.

One on One Creative Writing Workshop Timeline

Each one on one creative writing workshop will focus individually on you and your work. Developmental edits, line edits and end notes will focus on your authentic voice and intentions. We will return your manuscript with developmental edits and line edits as well as a final narrative comment on overall strengths, needs and impressions within an agreed upon time frame, usually two weeks to a month, depending upon the length of the work. After you have a few days to review the editorial suggestions and comments, we will schedule a short phone chat to discuss.

Creative Writing Workshop Methods

Each work has its own strengths and needs, successes and focus areas. We approach each new work with an eye toward individual voice so that the work can take on a life of its own that focuses on your intentions. Below, you’ll find a link for submission guidelines and submitting your manuscript. As we move through your work, we’ll look at the following:

    • What is the intention for the work, as communicated on the page and as is essential to the main characters?
    • What is the authentic voice of the narrator, and how can this be brought out thoroughly and to the work’s best interest?
    • What is your authentic voice and how can this be coupled with the needs of the narrative voice?
    • Developmentally, how can the character arcs and the overall narrative be brought to fuller realization?
    • Linguistically, how does the cadence, syntax and repetition in language support the overall artistry of the piece? 
    • Mechanically, are the choices being made in the overall best interest of the authentic narrative voice?
    • What can be strengthened from word choice and comma usage?

Thank you for joining us at The Eckleburg Workshops. We promise to honor your hard work and talents.

About Rae Bryant

Rae Bryant - Creative Writing WorkshopRae Bryant is the author of the short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals. Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in print and online at The Paris ReviewThe Missouri  ReviewMcSweeneysDIAGRAMNorth American Review, Gargoyle and more. Her work has won prizes, scholarships and fellowships from Johns Hopkins, American University, Aspen Writers Foundation, VCCA and Whidbey Writers and has been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, &NOW Award, Lorian Hemingway, and Pushcart. She is the founding editor of Eckleburg. She earned an M. A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins and an M. F. A. from American University, where she received the Starr and Sartwell scholarships. She is represented by Jennifer Carlson with Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

“Rae was so thoughtful, insightful, and helpful—her feedback was invaluable to me. Thank you!” — Lia V.
 
“Rae did a great job working through my manuscript. She paid close attention to detail and was very helpful in providing both structural and narrative perspective. She was prompt and observant and allowed me to talk through the course of the book, pushing back with substantial knowledge of the characters and the readability of the novel as a whole. Highly recommend her services.” — Jim C.
 
“Rae will give you thorough notes and valuable insight to help you improve your piece and your writing skills. Highly recommended.” — Nick V.
 

“Rae has improved my writing immensely. She understands the craft on a very deep level. She’s always encouraging (even through the doubtful, dreadful moments that anyone that is serious about this craft will feel). I can’t thank her enough. If you want to grow beyond what you thought was possible for yourself — Rae will help get you there.” — Luis C.

“Rae was wonderfully helpful. I do feel that my story is stronger now thanks to her comments. I like when editors actually speak with you either over the phone or face to face, and she did. I think I got more out of it that way.” — Ryan O.

 

The Novel: From Start to Finish

novel workshop

Welcome to “The Novel: From Start to Finish” at The Eckleburg Workshops. In this novel workshop, we will explore drafting your novel and revising voice, detail, characters, place and texture. We will also explore resources for submitting your novel project to an agent. You will have the option to sign up for individualized feedback from a member of the Eckleburg faculty, a published author.

It is important that you understand we are a character-based novel workshop. We are interested in character development and place over plot gratuity, though, we will spend ample time studying and fine-tuning structure. 

  • Character Study: Protagonist, Antagonist and Supporting Characters
  • Scene Study: Mapping and Coding the Narrative
  • Place Study: Mapping and Coding the Setting
  • Compression Study: Rewrite Your Novel as a Flash Fiction
  • Expansion Study: Refill the Novel (Now That You Know Its Essence)

Contributing Faculty

Rae BryantRae Bryant’s short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, released from Patasola Press, NY, in June 2011. Her stories and essays have appeared or will soon be appearing in print and online at  The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, Diagram, StoryQuarterly, McSweeney’s, New World Writing, Gargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications and have been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, &NOW Award and Pushcart Prize. She has won awards in fiction from Whidbey Writers and The Johns Hopkins University as well as fellowships from the VCCA and Hopkins to write, study and teach in Florence, Italy. She earned a Masters in Writing from Hopkins where she continues to teach creative writing and is editor in chief of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. She has also taught in the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa. Rae is the director of The Eckleburg Workshops. She has a Bachelors in Humanities from Penn State with a concentration in Eduction and English Literature and minors in Art, History and Philosophy. In addition to her Masters in Writing from Johns Hopkins, she completed graduate coursework in Curriculum and Administration at Penn State. She has been teaching and lecturing for over twenty years in campus classrooms and at writing conferences. Rae is a member of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP, NBCC, CLMP and Johns Hopkins Alumni Association and is represented by Jennifer Carlson of Dunow, Carlson and Lerner.

Submit your manuscript to Rae for individualized editorial feedback.

Why Online Writing Workshops?

Online writing workshops present the best of both worlds for creative writers: creative isolation and craft interaction. The New Yorker article by Louis Menand, “Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing be Taught?” proposes the perennial question of whether or not writers can be taught or must be born. Our stance at The Eckleburg Workshops is that writers can be shown many craft writing skills and be encouraged to explore voice through the practice of these skills as well as the observation of these skills in both master and developing narratives. It is our stance that creative writing can be sculpted and nurtured and is best taught by published authors and experienced writing teachers. This is what we give you in each and every writing course and in our One on One individualized manuscript sessions. Submit your manuscript for individualized editorial feedback