How to tell true stories, out loud

This creative writing class will get your story ready for the stage

This month kicks off Miami Book Fair’s summer roster of Community Creative Writing Classes. One of those classes is “How to Tell True Stories, Out Loud,” a five week course taught by Nick Garnett and Esther Martinez, co-producers of local storytelling show Lip Service, that will guide students through the process of adapting personal stories for stage performance.

"We thought a course that concentrated on the craft of presenting true, personal stories in front of a live audience—the kind of stories that get told at Lip Service shows—was a great idea,” says Garnett, who has taught several Community Creative Writing Classes for Miami Book Fair.

Garnett first encountered Lip Service, founded in 2006 by writer Andrea Askowitz, nearly eight years ago. He performed in and helped produce several shows in the ensuing years. Lip Service recently came under the auspices of Miami Book Fair’s year-round programming, and Garnett joined with Martinez as co-producer.

"The association has been wonderful,” says Garnett. “We’ve already produced a sold-out show and have tons of great programs in the pipeline.”

So, what is the difference between writing a story that is meant to be read in silence and one that is meant to be heard aloud? Garnett says the key lies not just in elements of performance, such as timing and inflection, but in clarity. Stories told out loud need to be “compressed and crystal clear.”

"You have one chance for the audience to hear and understand what you’re saying,” says Garnett. “Otherwise, you’ve lost them.”

The class “How to Tell True Stories, Out Loud” will begin with an explanation of what exactly makes a story a story—think character, conflict, arc, etc. Garnett and Martinez will then help students decide which story they want to tell, a task that “isn’t always as easy or obvious as it may seem,” Garnett says. Students will write a draft of that story and share it will their peers for discussion and critique, a hallmark of the workshop experience. The class will culminate with students performing their stories for each other and receiving pointers from Garnett and Martinez.

"As with any writing course,” Garnett says, “we learn as much from experiencing other people’s work as we do from producing our own.”

To prospective students hoping to take their dinner-table stories to the stage, Garnett suggests a willing pen, an openness to the stories of others, and a little bit of confidence.

"Lip Service stories come from everywhere and everyone,” he says. “The element they all share is honesty and the willingness of the storyteller to put it out there on the page and the stage.”

Want to learn how to tell your true story out loud?

When: Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m., June 30 to July 28
Where: MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave., Downtown Miami
How: Registration is $145—reserve your spot here!
Parking is free in the College's garage (Building 7). Just let security know you are here for a Book Fair event. You can also take the Metro Mover to the College North or College Bayside station. Don't get lost, map your route.

Use improv to conquer writer’s block

Three questions for Dan Gretch

Dan Gretch will teach “How to Conquer Writer’s Block: Attack the Blank Page Using Skills from the Stage” on Saturday, July 23. We asked him a few questions about the class, teaching, and aliens.
Q. What can students expect to get out of your class?
A. This course is designed for any aspiring writer who finds themselves panicking when staring at the blank page, or who is unsure of how to start their Great American Novel, or who finds herself writing and then rewriting the same few page of their book, or who feels like they're in a creative rut, or who has run out of ideas, or is blocked and frustrated and stuck. This class will give you concrete tools to get you unstuck.
Q. What is your favorite thing about teaching a Creative Writing Course with Miami Book Fair?
A. I find it inspirational to teach with the Miami Book Fair. The participants in the classes come from a range of backgrounds, interests and writing experience, but they have one thing in common: a burning desire to create. I love surrounding myself with fellow creators. 
Q. Scene: you are walking down Collins when a spaceship materializes and beams three aliens into the middle of traffic. While panic breaks out among the cabbies, club promoters, bros, and beach bunnies, you turn to the nearest coconut cart and grab ____  [go!]
A. ... cover as a hail of bullets rains down onto the three poor aliens from the more than 400 police officers that are patrolling that stretch of Collins Avenue as part of the Memorial Day weekend lockdown. The aliens expire into a green goo, the video goes viral, and a raucous debate ensues about the racist overtones of the massive police presence on a weekend popular with green people. You walk home, sipping your filched coconut water out of a straw, and think to yourself, “Only in Miami.”

Want to learn how to conquer writer’s block using skills from the stage?

When: Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave., Downtown Miami
How: Registration is $60—reserve your spot here!

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June Calendar

Tuesday, June 14 – Tómate una copa y escribe major
Más información

Wednesday, June 15 – Paz Prize for Poetry submissions close More information

Thursday, June 16 – First Draft: A Literary Social More information  

Tuesday, June 21 – Beyond Margins, Within Intersections: A Caribbean LGBTQ Reading
More information

Saturday, June 25 – Las Voces de los Muertos Más información

Sunday, June 26 – Sally Mann presents Hold Still: A Memoir in Photographs More information

Tuesday, June 28 to Tuesday, August 2 – Laugh About It: Humor in Autobiographical Writing
More information 

Thursday, June 30 to Thursday, July 28 – How to Tell True Stories, Out Loud More information

In Pictures

4th Annual Haitian-Caribbean Book Fair celebrated Haitian heritage with food, dancing, crafts, and more!

Sosyete Koukouy and Miami Book Fair held the 4th Annual Haitian-Caribbean Book Fair on May 28 and May 29 in Little Haiti, featuring two days of vibrant cultural exposure to writers, publishers, performers, and informative events. If you missed the fun, check out pictures below!

Book Fair Watch

Save the date! This year's Fair will take place November 13-20, with Street Fair happening November 18-20. See you there! #MiamiBookFair2016 
Miami Book Fair 2016
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