Info on the MWG Docudrama workshop series

The Manitoba Writers’ Guild has been collaborating with the Shoestring Players to develop another video to answer the question, how can the Creating a Docudrama workshop series help me improve my writing? You can find the videos on YouTube (see below for the links).

Watch Marilyn Slobogian, Nathan Zassman, Maureen Taggert and Karl Eckstrand discuss their manuscript problems and learn why they should become a team to take part in the workshop series. During this 8-week course, beginning on September 9th at 7 pm, participants will start their journey to create a publishable or performable piece of writing that includes:

  • A tightly-plotted exploration of an issue, concern, or question that interests you
  • Realistic and engaging dialogue
  • Authoritative knowledge or research that informs but does not overwhelm
  • Collaborative and independent work.

A docudrama can be a work of fiction or creative non-fiction. It can include poetic form, dance or even songs that can inform and entertain. It can be about a topic of interest to children or adults or both! It can be used to create an interesting script for a book launch or advertisement, such as the ad in the YouTube video.

The course will help you develop your writing skills, whether you have trouble with writing dialogue, tightening your plot, or developing characters. It is a fascinating format to explore any topic about which you feel most passionate. It will help writers at any stage of their writing career, whether you are just beginning your journey or whether you’ve been writing for years and want to try something new.

You can work independently or with a group, but it’s fun to share your ideas with others. If you want to sign up &/or if you have writing friends you’d like to work with at the workshop, please follow this link to register: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/creating-a-docudrama-tickets-150383297491. Email the Guild (manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com ), if you want more to learn more about other payment options.

Cost: (includes eight two-hour sessions with online access to the course leader between sessions and light refreshments if we are able to hold sessions in ArtSpace)

$247 for Non-member of MWG

$197 for Regular MWG member

$147 for MWG member; student/low income

While we hope to be able to meet some of the participants in person, we want to make the sessions accessible via Zoom to those living outside of Winnipeg. If there are several people interested in taking the workshop together, I’m sure the local libraries will be able to make their WiFi available to you, so you can take in the sessions remotely in one of their program rooms. Please email the Guild office to learn more about how you can participate this way.

To learn more about what the course is all about, check out these fun YouTube Videos:

#1 link https://youtu.be/jtqQETbruGg         (Introduction)

#2 link https://youtu.be/tgLyNjt0dt4           (Dialogue Development)

#3 link https://youtu.be/r86RT2hia04          (Improving writing skills)

#4 link https://youtu.be/WM6a7VZmn6Y    (How it’s useful even if not a scriptwriter)

#5 link https://youtu.be/mpOMJkUBUSc (Use as educational tool)

#6 link https://youtu.be/8lXovI-Um38       (Zoom discussion with facilitator, Sharon Hamilton)

 

YOUR COURSE LEADER: Dr. Sharon Hamilton, Professor of English (Emerita), has enjoyed a lifetime of writing, drama, and teaching. In addition to her published memoir and over a hundred professional articles and book chapters, she is working on her fifth novel and has written two plays, performed in Winnipeg, Indianapolis, and Texas. She developed a senior level docudrama course at Indiana University and has adapted it as an eight-session workshop for the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. She created a docudrama for the 2019 launch of her fourth novel, Manitoba MAID, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

*The above photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.1 Japan license

Gaylene Dutchyshen Interview

Last fall, the Manitoba Writers’ Guild held a writing contest with the theme of Halloween. Our winner was Gaylene Dutchyshen. Her bio and winning story were featured in one of our recent newsletters. She will be our guest at next month’s Book Chat, March 10, 2021 at 7 pm, if you would like to hear her read her from her work. Email the Guild (manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com) to receive the Zoom instructions.

In addition to publishing her story and bio, we arranged for her to be interviewed by Danielle Somack. Here is an introduction to Danielle,  Gaylene and their interview:

My name is Danielle Somack and I’m an emerging writer and high school student residing in rural Manitoba. As a mentee of Creative Manitoba’s 2020-21 Rural Youth Mentorship program, I started to explore writing from different angles and perspectives. My mentor, Anita Daher, has given me the opportunity to meet many amazing and talented local authors at the monthly Book Jam we cohost together on Zoom. I am very keen on expanding my skills and learning about other writer’s creative pursuits and the stories that move them, whether through a conversation or by interviewing Manitoba authors with the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.
– Danielle

Gaylene Dutchyshen loves a good mystery. Born in Dauphin and raised in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba, Gaylene takes inspiration from the solitude of the prairies and her fascination with the inner workings of the mind to create compelling characters with hidden pasts and family secrets.

Before publishing her first novel, A Strange Kind of Comfort, in 2020, Gaylene had written a short story for a University of Manitoba creative writing course in 2008, titled Dream Job, a haunting, gothic tale that recently won her first place in the Manitoba Writer’s Guild Halloween Short Story Contest.

 

Danielle Somack: What do you want readers to take away from Dream Job?

Gaylene Dutchyshen: I wanted to portray the power of the mind and show how what we think/feel/experience during the day is expressed in our dreams. The two main characters are drawn to each other by a mutual experience, night terrors, and I wanted the reader to identify and sympathize with each of them. Cate’s mother is aloof and Jamie senses that Cate is neglected. Jamie’s father is judgmental and Jamie’s night terrors recur when she is stressed. Sam Talbot is a “villain” only in Jamie’s and Cate’s imaginations, yet they are compelled to silence him. I wanted to create a sense of danger in a place where patients should feel protected and safe. In protecting Cate from a perceived danger, Jamie acts on her unconscious fears with unintended consequences for Sam. Instead of a vampire (supernatural) or serial killer, I wanted to create unease in my readers by fashioning killers that would be perceived as harmless. If a reader is left unsettled by the end of the story, then I achieved what I set out to do.

DS: What is the inspiration behind your story?

GD: I actually wrote the story in 2008 when I was taking an Advanced Creative writing course at the U of M. At the start of the first semester, we were writing our short stories anonymously so, to disguise myself, I wrote each story in a different voice/genre. Dream Job was my horror/gothic tale. A few weeks before I wrote this story, I had a sleep study at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, and it struck me as a creepy experience. I arrived after dark, parked in a nearly empty parking garage. It was quiet and nearly deserted on the floor where I was hooked up with cords. I knew I would be watched and monitored as I slept. It made me wonder about the sleep technician and her job and what she thought about all night as she watches people sleep. She’s always on a night shift, having to stay mostly silent while she works, with very little interaction with the sleep study patients or her co-workers. The patients are completely vulnerable. It seemed a good premise and setting for a spooky story.

DS: You mentioned in your bio that you’re a bit of a bookworm. What do you look for in a good book?

GD: I like books about families and secrets; which is why I write such novels myself. I like knowing what makes a character “tick”, so I tend to like stories where the main character’s childhood is revealed, and we learn what shaped them. Characters must be compelling and multi-faceted. I also prefer books where I “see” physical details. A truly beautiful description or metaphor always pulls me into the author’s world. Suspense keeps me turning the pages, even if it’s a novel about ordinary people in everyday situations.

DS: You also mentioned that you love to travel with your husband Wayne (in non-COVID times). How have these travels influenced your writing?

GD: So far, I’ve been drawn to write about the Manitoba rural community. It is the prairies and the people who populate small rural towns that I know best. Travel does broaden one’s perspective, though. Seeing other cultures and different styles of living expands the mind and creates curiosity about and empathy for others, which is important for a writer. I’d like to include a European destination in my writing one day.

DS: When you’re not writing, what do you spend your time doing?

GD: I am still actively involved in our farm operation, so I’m busier in the spring, summer and autumn. I am the farm accountant and operate a combine during the harvest season. Besides traveling, I love gardening and have designed two beautiful flower gardens with ponds and waterfalls on the properties where we’ve lived. I’m a visual person, which is reflected in my writing, and it’s my passion to create beauty in my surroundings. I like biking and we enjoyed exploring more of Manitoba this summer. Like every grandmother, I cherish time with our grandchildren. Our 8- and 10-year old grandkids and I had a blast making a movie—Covid Catastrophe starring Superkids vs the Coronavirus—this spring when school was out (they wrote the script, found the costumes, designed the credits, etc) so creative activities are also on the list of things to do at our house.

Thanks to both Danielle and Gaylene for their insight into a writer’s life. There is still time to send in submissions to our Bloody Valentine writing contest (deadline: February 19th, 2021). Check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/manitobawritersguild) for details.