While I have no magic formulas—trust me, there are none—I will focus on the hard work that goes into making a piece of writing better.

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Time: 18:00 to 20:00

Duration: 6 March, 2023

Location: QWF Office—1200 Atwater Avenue, Room 3, Westmount, QC View map


This eight-week workshop is for anyone with a book manuscript-in-progress. One you’re determined to get out of the drawer and back onto the page (screen). Whether you’re stuck on the first or last word or somewhere in between, this workshop is designed to get you inspired and, most of all, unstuck.

The writer is one who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.

Donald Barthelme

Arrange the pieces as they come.

Virginia Woolf

While I have no magic formulas—trust me, there are none—I will focus on the hard work that goes into making a piece of writing better. That means identifying good ideas, problem-solving, outlining, creating scenes, revising, then revising some more and learning to accept and assimilate feedback you’ll receive from me and the other participants in the workshop. No doubt, other issues—everything from pitches, book proposals and how and where to publish—will come up organically. And, yes, there will be the occasional pep talk.. 

Unstuck: First Chapters and Other Hurdles is open to all manner of prose. That means fiction as well as nonfiction, including novels, memoirs, short stories, personal essays, creative nonfiction and straightforward journalism. While we’ll be limited to how much ground we can cover as it pertains to an individual work– say a 2500-word sample – we’ll all do our best and have fun speculating on where a given piece of writing can go. 

Since I’ve published work in a variety of genres, I feel well-positioned to address the wide range of issues—from story structure to character development to finding your voice—that will invariably arise. 

Most of all, this workshop is going to be hands-on and pragmatic. So while I’ll do some lecturing and assign some exercises (in-class and out), participants will be expected to generate their own material—whether it’s new or something they’ve been writing for a while. Together, we’ll give everyone the most valuable thing a workshop like this has to offer—attentive, engaged readers. 

Workshop leader

Joel Yanofsky headshot
Credit: Photo credit: Cynthia Davis

Joel Yanofsky is a two-time winner of QWF’s Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, for Mordecai & Me: An Appreciation of a Kind (Red Deer Press) and Bad Animals: A Father's Accidental Education in Autism(Penguin), which was also short-listed for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-fiction. He's written for The New York Times, Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Readers' Digest, and Today’s Parent, among other publications. He's won two National Magazine Awards and The Malahat Review’s Creative Non-fiction Prize. He’s also the author of the novel Jacob's Ladder and the essay collection, Homo Erectus… and Other Popular Tales of True Romance as well as two plays.


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