On Sun. Mar. 9, you might have missed the Wilson College Creative Writing Colloquium. The event was a rapid progression of six professional writers running panels on various topics in the creative writing field. The event included two professors from our college, Dr. Matthew Diltz McBride, and Dr. Michael G. Cornelius, along with four additional guest speakers attending as well: Alicia Drumgoole, Seth Fried, Eric Bliman, and Heather Hamilton.
Alicia Drumgoole, an assistant professor at Hagerstown Community College, writes fiction that includes both more serious essays as well as her guilty pleasure paranormal fiction, which she writes under the pen name, Agnes Jayne. Her panel brought light to many pitfalls new authors make when it comes to making strong characters, including a definition of the dreaded Mary Sue, and Marty Stu.
Seth Fried is a contributor for the New Yorker’s “Shouts and Murmurs”, and NPR’s “Selected Shorts”. He read excerpts for the keynote reading section of the colloquium during the latter half of the conference. In the morning, he gave a lecture on how to write compelling plots and how to effectively avoid clichés.
Dr. Eric Bliman, a current teacher at Pennsylvania State University, ran the first poet lecture. His lecture focused on the format of Persona Poems and a small section allocated to practicing writing them.
Dr. Heather Hamilton, also a teacher at Pennsylvania State University, gave a lecture on concrete imagery and removing the esoteric pompous elements of poetry by creating images that are both understandable by normal people and keep the author’s sense of uniqueness
Dr. Matthew Diltz McBride, a professor of English and Creative Writing, well loved by his students for creating a calm environment in his classes, gave a lecture on Prose poetry a strange format involving surreal elements.
Dr. Michael G. Cornelius is the local medieval enthusiast and creative writing teacher on campus. His lecture was designed to drill out the boring prose from your work and to teach you how to show your audience the world, as opposed to telling them.
The events included panels on both prose and poetry that the audience could switch between at any point. The rapid pace, however, affected many of the speeches adversely, as well as shortening the period of time that the seminars had to give students and attendees the time to practice the exercises.
Undoubtedly, the most interesting moment from the lecture came from Seth Fried as he was discussing the advantages to fiction as a genre in comparison to more modern formats,
“Fiction can do this cool thing where you can get into a character’s head, such as in notes from the underground, when movies try to do it, they just zoom up on character who has a face suffering from constipation.”
His quote gets to the heart of fictions greatest advantage the ability to get into the heads of characters. If you are interested in learning more about fiction, it is likely Wilson College will hold another Colloquium next year. They are free to attend, though it is important to reserve first.