working on your story in the writing workshop

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Work on your story with Il Maestro


Stephen Amidon was born in Chicago. He is the author of a book of short stories and seven novels, including The New City and Human Capital, which was selected by Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post as one of the five best novels of 2004. Paolo Virzì’s Italian film version of Human Capital, Il capitale umano, won best film at the 2014 David di Donatello, Nastri d’Argento, and Globi d’Oro Awards and was selected to represent Italy as best foreign language film at the 2015 Oscars. Amidon has also written two non-fiction books, reviewed films for The Sunday Times and The Financial Times, and contributed to various newspapers and magazines in the United States and Great Britain. His books have been published in sixteen countries. Stephen Amidon lived in London for twelve years before returning to the United States in 1999. He now lives in Boston. His serial drama 6Bianca debuted at Teatro Stabile di Torino in February 2015, and in September 2015 The Real Justine, his seventh novel, will be released in the USA.




Finishing your story. It is the tantalizing goal of every writer, the maddeningly obscure objects of literary desire. Easy to dream about, hard to accomplish.


Wine & Words , an intensive ten-day writing English-language workshop held in the beautiful wine country of Northern Italy, is a crash course in fiction writing that will empower the writer to achieve this most elusive of ambitions. Conducted by the award-winning American novelist and screenwriter Stephen Amidon, it will provide participants with the tools and inspiration necessary to realize their literary aspirations.


Just about anybody can start a story. We all know the feeling. You have an undeniable idea that you just know is going to make great fiction; you imagine a unique and compelling character who simply must be brought to life. And so you set to work, and the thing almost writes itself. Words flow in the first rush of inspiration. The images inside your head start to take shape on the page.


But then you hit the wall. The words stop flowing. Unforeseen plot entanglements trip you up. Characters refuse to behave the way you want. What started out as an eight-lane superhighway with no speed limit has turned into a blind alley with a big brick wall at the end. You start to become distracted, discouraged. The temptation to put down the pen becomes stronger and stronger.


Or maybe you do make it to the story’s end. But when you go back over what you have written, or entrust it to your most trusted reader, there is a problem. It is not the story you originally conceived. Something was lost in translation from mind to page. The question is: how do you fix it?


Wine & Words will provide proven strategies to answer this challenging question. Using established workshop techniques, we will help the writer break through that brick wall. Each participant will be expected to arrive with a first draft – or just the opening paragraphs – of a piece of work they want to bring to completion. This will be closely read and discussed by your instructor and peers in an effort to locate problem areas and map out solutions. Discussion will be rigorous but supportive. Writing will take place during the course of the workshop, enabling participants to test out new ideas and make tough choices. Each writer will leave with a completed story – or, at the very least, a clear path to that objective.


The workshop will focus on three main areas: character, voice, and plot. With character, we will consider whether your creation has three dimensions. Do her actions ring true? Is she sufficiently nuanced? What does she learn during the course of the story? How does she change? We will also examine your narrative voice, asking if it is consistent, unique and appropriate to the story’s action. Finally, we will focus on perhaps the most challenging of issue – plot. Does your story move at a consistent pace? Do early moments ‘pay off’ in the latter stages of the story? Do you have a compelling climax, an ‘epiphany,’ in which your main character’s view of the world changes? If these three areas are addressed with honesty, hard work and a little help from your friends, you will be amazed how much progress can be made. Who knows – you might even wind up with a finished story that you can raise a glass of fine Italian wine to toast.


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