Brattleboro Literary Festival / Marlboro College Writing Workshops(CLOSED)

The Brattleboro Literary Festival, in collaboration with Marlboro College, is pleased to announce three new writing workshops featuring choices in both fiction and nonfiction to kick-off the 2014 festival. Our workshop leaders are authors Leslie Jamison, Julia Fierro and Pamela Painter.

The workshops will take place on Friday October 3, from 1:00 and 4:45 PM at the Marlboro Graduate Center in downtown Brattleboro, VT. Please see details below to learn more about topic choices and the instructors who will lead.

Registration: The fee for each workshop is $75. Space will be limited to 12 students in each class to ensure a quality experience. To submit your payment, please visit:


Julia Fierro photoJulia Fierro ~ “Get Closer” To Your Characters: A Point-of-View Fiction Workshop

 Our writing workshop instructors tell us again and again to “get closer” to our characters. We nod our heads, but secretly we ask ourselves, how do I get closer? And what does getting closer mean? There is nothing more frustrating than, after writing many pages, realizing that you still don’t really know your leading guy and gal.

We are all close to someone—usually many someones—and this makes us natural character experts. We spend much of our time analyzing our loved ones, our neighbors and co-workers, even the strangers sitting across from us on the bus.

In this workshop, we will examine how to use this natural curiosity to create characters so complex, so nuanced, that they are impossible to be dismissed—characters worthy of the reader’s sympathy and investment. We will focus specifically on using point-of-view technique to bring our readers (and ourselves) closer to our character’s consciousness, so his or her thoughts and emotions feel organic to the story or novel.

We will also discuss the structural significance of point-of-view consistency—how a developed POV promotes continuity in tone, mood, atmosphere, narrative momentum, and more, all essential in helping a reader feel engaged in our fiction.

Each writer will share their work and receive feedback in class from both the instructor and students. We will analyze student fiction with the hyper-focused perspective of a writer, examining the way in which the quality of a character’s observations, interpretation and imagination can be used to guide the reader “closer” to unique, but also concrete, implication.

Writing prompts will be shared to practice techniques that bring the writer, and the reader, “closer” to a character, exposing (compassionately, of course) a character’s unique needs and fears, and, ultimately, the character’s right to tell their story.

JULIA FIERRO is the founder of the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, a creative home to more than 2500 writers since 2002. Her novel, Cutting Teeth, was included in Library Journal‘s “Spring 2014 Best Debuts” and on “Most Anticipated Books of 2014″ lists by HuffPost BooksThe MillionsFlavorwireBrooklyn Magazine and Marie Claire. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow, she’s written for Guernica, Glamour, and other publications, and has been profiled in The L MagazineThe Observer, and The Economist. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children. Visit Julia’s website at and find her on Twitter @juliafierro.


Leslie JamisonLeslie Jamison ~ Flash Memoir

In this class, we’ll be thinking about the possibilities of compression: how to capture our infinite lives in finite frames. We’ll be exploring what can happen in just a few paragraphs: a mother can be raised from the grave or a treehouse burned to the ground, a wound can be re-opened with a few deft slices of syntax, a few crucial details. There’s an exhilaration to concision, and an abiding kind of latent force—we’ll explore those veins of electricity. We’ll be discussing published pieces as well as student work.

For our class, submit in advance a “flash memoir” that’s 600 words or fewer. Please write something new—specifically written for this scope—instead of excerpting from a longer work. We’ll also be experimenting with writing exercises to generate even shorter pieces in class.

Leslie Jamison is the author of the New York Times bestselling collection of essays, The Empathy Exams and the novel, The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Oxford American, A Public Space, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, and the New York Times, where she is a regular columnist for the Sunday Book Review. She is currently finishing a doctoral dissertation at Yale about addiction narratives. Born in DC, she grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn.


Pamela PainterPamela Painter ~ How Flash Works

The concise diction popularly referred to as Flash Fiction becomes more prevalent each year in both print and on-line journals, as well as at literary readings and conferences. In this workshop, we’ll talk about the way Flash fiction works–fast, with details and a tight narrative arc. Next, we’ll workshop submitted stories 100-250 words in length and take plenty of time to begin new stories as well. Students will receive “prompts” for five to ten stories to keep them writing this form when the Festival is over.




Pamela Painter is the author of three story collections: Getting to Know the Weather, The Long and Short of It, and the FLASH collection, Wouldn’t You Like to Know. She is also the co-author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Five Points, Harper’s, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, among others. And in many FLASH anthologies, such as Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Flash Fiction Forward, and Flash Fiction Funny.  She has received grants from The Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, has won three Pushcart Prizes and Agni Review’s The John Cheever Award for Fiction. Painter lives in Boston and teaches in the Emerson College MFA Program.



If you have any additional questions, please email Workshop Director, Jodi Paloni at Jodi Paloni  or Angela Hamilton, Marlboro College Registrar Office Assistant,