Instructor: Katherine Kirkpatrick
Maximum Enrollment: 10
Class Term: 05/17/2021 - 06/07/2021
SCN Member: $120
Class synopsisDo you have a special place that is important to you? What structures or natural features make it unique? The subject for your next article, novel, or nonfiction work may come from an unexpectedly familiar source.
Maybe a mysterious old house has caught your attention. Or an unusual street name. Or an oddly-shaped rock formation. Sharpening your skills of observation, asking questions, and learning more about the curiosities around you are great ways to gather new ideas for stories. In this fun and interactive class, you’ll dream, brainstorm, receive tips on researching and writing, and come up with a strategy to complete a draft. The final week will be devoted to discussing your piece.
Taking inspiration from local places, you’ll decide what you want to write about, the form your writing will take, and the best audience for it. You’ll learn how to compile research, and how to stay organized. Both individually and in a supportive group setting, you’ll receive feedback about your draft of a proposal, chapter, article, or blog post.
Class communication methodOne two-hour class period per week for four weeks on Zoom will combine lecture, questions and answers, and discussion of participants’ projects. Announcements, class exercises, handouts, and individual critique of participants’ work will all be emailed. Class meetings on Zoom will be held on Mondays at 7pm Eastern.
Unit One: Dreaming, Brainstorming Ideas, and Visualizing Your Project
What place have you always wanted to write about, but didn’t have the time or knowledge to do so? Bring a photo or object to share with the class and make a list of interesting things about your setting. Sources of inspiration might come from any of the following, to name a few: walks, observation of natural features or buildings in the landscape, photos, conversations with elderly neighbors, family genealogy, your own memories, books, old newspapers, maps, historic plaques, and place names.
Unit Two: Gathering Research
What questions do you have about the place where you live, or have lived? What would you like to look at more closely? Come to class with your questions and ideas, and block out time for the following week in which you will conduct research (even if it’s as simple as taking a walk or reading one article).
Discussion topics will include primary and secondary sources—where to find them, how to organize yourself—and making use of both paid and unpaid resources, such as online state archives and genealogical websites.
Unit Three: Refining Your Idea or Question, and Pre-Writing
What did you discover in your research? Did you learn anything surprising?
Your objective this week is to become clear on your chosen topic. Considering your audience and your purpose will help you decide upon the form your project will take. Is there a main point you want to make?
Create a one-sentence guiding premise of what your project is about, and we’ll discuss possible formats and structures for it.
Unit Four: Writing and Workshopping
Prior to class, email to instructor and classmates a partial or complete draft of an article, blog post, chapter, and/ or nonfiction or fiction book proposal.
We’ll talk about your writing. Finally, you’ll come up with a list of the next steps you will take to complete your project.
Class time commitmentAt least one hour per week outside of class.
Katherine Kirkpatrick set six of her eight published titles, both fiction and nonfiction, in places where she has lived. She based her children’s book Redcoats and Petticoats on true-life Revolutionary War spy activity in the coves of Setauket, Long Island, New York where she gathered clams as a child. She came up with the idea for her young adult novel Trouble’s Daughter when she noticed an historic plaque near her home on City Island in the Bronx. Keeping the Good Light takes place in a lighthouse that she could see in the distance when she waited for a bus to take her to a job in book publishing in Manhattan. She and a collaborator are currently writing a history book relating to people of color of 19th century Long Island.