Author/journalist Sam Quinones teaches writing workshops based on the acclaimed True Tales stories he’s been writing for much of his 24-year journalism career.
Among the biggest challenges new writers face is figuring out what to write and how to start.
Tell Your True Tale workshops get them to think of their own experiences and of those around them as raw material for avoiding writer’s block.
Often, this approach works best when new writers are from communities or families that have never told their stories.
By insisting on stories told in limited space, the True Tales approach forces writers to hone their thoughts and imagination, eliminate unnecessary words, make the hard choices that are part of strong writing, no matter the genre.
The aim is to get nonfiction stories to read like fiction.
Sam has done workshops from elementary schools to community colleges. Each group or class is different, so he customizes each workshop to each group’s needs.
(Read comments from Las Vegas high school students and teachers on Sam’s appearance in the Just Voices program, May 2011, where he also taught his Tell Your True Tale workshops.)
True Tales workshops generally involve:
*A Pre-Workshop Discussion: Sam and the instructor or group leader discuss the students and their needs. Sam explains the True Tales approach, and includes a reading list of stories.
*Students come up with story ideas. Often, these can be sent to Sam for comment.
*First Draft: Students write their stories and send them, via the instructor, to Sam.
*First Edit: Sam line-edits each story, and provides ideas to each writer on how each story might be improved: cut, expanded, reorganized; what might make a better lead and ending; what further research or interviews the writer needs.
*Second Draft: Students write a second draft.
*In-Person Visit: Lasting one to three hours, Sam discusses the writing issues the class faces. He also comments on each story, with suggestions for improvements.
*Third Draft: If needed, students who’ve completed two drafts submit a third.
*The best stories are posted on Sam’s website.
Contact Sam for references and rates.