Friday, January 13, 2017

Speaker: Sands Hall

Sands Hall website
Sands Hall: Author, Playwright, Singer/Songwriter, is the author of the National bestseller, Catching Heaven (Ballantine). Stories have appeared in the New England Review and Iowa Review, among others. Her play, Fair Use, explores the controversy surrounding Wallace Stegner’s use of the life and writing of nineteenth century writer and illustrator Mary Hallock Foote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Angle of Repose.

Review Snippet: “Sands Hall is a wonderful writer, full of soul and feeling.” -- Anne Lamott

Pre-conference Workshop: Critique Fest - Peer and Professional Critique. Friday, January 20, 2017, 2:30 - 5:00 pm. Additional fee.

In this session, a short piece of your writing is critiqued in a small group that includes peers and a published writer. You will learn what goes into creating an effective workshop, how to create and receive effective criticism, and how you can become your own best editor. In the process, you’ll no doubt come to know a number of literary companions with whom you’ll want to continue the discussion long after the conference is over.  (More about the Critique Fest here.)

An essential resource for every writer to have on a nearby shelf, for study and inspiration. Offering advice, concrete examples, and personal experience, Tools of the Writer’s Craft functions as a both an academic resource and a practical guide.

Highlighted Review:
on April 5, 2012
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

Reviewed by C. J. Singh (Berkeley, CA)

In the opening pages, "Making Workshops Work," Sands Hall offers tips on giving optimal feedback as well as responding to mixed feedback on your own manuscript. "A valuable resonance to keep in mind when your head is reeling at the end of a workshop" is that "the Sanskrit root of the verb to judge means to separate the wheat from the chaff (p 11). This section also appears in Writer's Workshop in a Book: The Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction, edited by Alan Cheuse and Lisa Alvarez. Sands Hall is a longtime teacher at Squaw Valley Conference as well as the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Festival.

On page 15: "Some authors maintain that they are not interested in theme, or that if there is one, it is not `purposeful': this is disingenuous. I admire Hall's bold assertion on theme -- it contrasts with Janet Burroway's equivocation in her widely used textbook in college courses Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (8th Edition). (See my review on amazon.)

In the section on "Some Essentials," Hall explains the familiar telling-showing, simile-metaphor, and summary-scene distinctions. This section introduces some of the 25 exercises included at the end of the book, exercises that greatly enhance its self-teaching features.

The most detailed and sophisticated discussion is in the section "Point of View," constituting nearly a third of the 266-page text. Toward the end of this section, Hall briefly includes her own Colonial Theory of Point of View: "It has occurred to me that British writers, both canonical and contemporary, seem to have an especial ability with the omniscient perspective." She suggests that this arose from British world-wide hegemony that began in the sixteenth century. In contrast, American authors often chose a first-person or a close third-person point of view from their urge to "disconnect" from Europe. After World War I, as America began to achieve global hegemony, American authors are increasingly preferring omniscient point of view. Hall graciously adds: "There are no doubt myriad explanations besides this limited and mostly amusing notion" (p 173).

Throughout the book, Hall incorporates brief quotes from the works of writers like Margaret Atwood, Raymond Carver, Jennifer Egan, John Fowles, David Guterson, Oakley Hall, Joyce Carl Oates, Alice Seybold, Anne Tyler and sixty other contemporary as well as classic. The detailed index, 15-pages long, makes it easy to locate these quotations.

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