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2015 Summer Writing Retreat - "Capturing Real Life: Long-Form Narrative in a Short-Form World"

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Sul Ross State University
Alpine, TX 79832

7/19/2015 to 7/23/2015 From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Retreat Orientation to be held Saturday, July 18, at 6 pm -- Details will be shared with participants in advance of the retreat's start date.

NOTE: This class is sold out.
If you wish to be put on a waiting list, please call us at 512-499-8914.

with Texas Monthly's Michael Hall

$329 for Members (Please log in for member pricing)

$379 Non-Members

Please read both the credit card handling fee information and the refund policy at the bottom of this page before purchasing a ticket.

"Mike Hall is incredible. He was so attentive to each student and so sincere."

-- 2014 Summer Writing Retreat Attendee on Michael Hall's Class

"I had been writing my story before the retreat and thought I was on the right track. Then came Mike Hall, who managed to find just the right beginning of my story.  Because of him, I am now really on the right track."

-- 2014 Summer Writing Retreat Attendee on Michael Hall's Class

This course will give you the basic tools to write lengthy, narrative-driven stories that are more about attitude than objectivity, more about getting at the heart of a story than just the facts.

Long narratives, in-depth profiles, and investigative articles are everywhere—in magazines and on the internet. Instead of killing long-form, the web has revitalized it, providing more and more demand for content. And the rise of short-burst social media like Twitter and Facebook have only highlighted long-form stories, helping lead readers to them. In the world of the web, content is content, no matter how short or long, and content is king.

Participants in this class will read and dissect some great sample stories, analyzing the key elements that make them sing. In addition, participants will learn: how to conduct great interviews and how to get people to open up and share intimate details; what goes into developing sources and how to be pushy--but not so pushy that you push sources away.

Class participants will discuss how to focus a story so that it has one main idea that guides the narrative, while learning valuable practices for keeping people interested for several thousand words. This will include an analysis of structure, from the typical magazine structure to some more adventurous ones.

Participants will also discuss: the challenges unique to narrative nonfiction, from writing scenes that play like movies in the reader's head to creating a sense of place to using anecdotes to move the story along; the fine art of putting "you" -- the writer -- in the story; beginnings and endings; and revising and editing--killing today what seemed so essential yesterday.

By the time the class is done, students will have a better understanding of how to put their ideas together into a compelling piece that readers won't be able to put down.

This class will be valuable for anyone looking to publish long-form articles (in print or online) and could be especially valuable to academics, bloggers looking to transition to long-form, and even writers of memoir or other types of nonfiction.

Requirements: Class participants will do exercises geared towards putting together a long-form story: you'll create scenes, work on developing characters, and explore different kinds of structures. To this end, the instructor asks all students to bring a long-form project to the class--either a work in progress you'd like help on or an idea for a long-form story you want to write but aren't sure how to get started on. The instructor will have conferences with each student to work on their individual stories.

About the instructor: Michael Hall graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. Before joining Texas Monthly in 1997, he was an associate editor of Third Coast magazine and the managing editor of the Austin Chronicle. He won a Texas Gavel Award in 2003 for his story about capital punishment, “Death Isn’t Fair,” which was also nominated for a National Magazine Award. Hall’s stories have appeared in the Best American Magazine Writing, the Best American Sportswriting, the Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Da Capo Best Music Writing. He has also written for Trouser Press, the New York Times, Men’s Journal, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Note: All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee (this fee can be avoided by mailing in a check for registration with this form).


(Please read this refund policy closely before registering for the 2015 Summer Writing Retreat; no exceptions will be made):

Through May 1, 2015: 100% refund available.
May 2, 2015 - May 31, 2015: 50% refund available.

All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation fee.

After May 31, 2015: No refunds will be made, but registrants can transfer their registration to another person as long as advance notice is given to the Writers' League of Texas. If you wish to transfer your registration, please call the WLT at 512-499-8914.

Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to