Instructor: Kate Christensen
Date & Time: Wednesdays, April 18 to June 20 | 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: USM’s Glickman Library, Portland
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Maximum Attendees: 12 FULL/WAIT LIST ONLY
Fee: MWPA Member $450 | Nonmember $600
Registration Closes: April 9

A novel or story is essentially a series of scenes organized to create a whole. Every scene, no matter how minor, has to function both independently and as a building block in the larger work itself. This progression of scenes should unfold in a way that is dramatically compelling and makes every scene feel indispensable to the whole.

In this workshop, participants will learn to uncover the inner workings of individual scenes. They will cut each scene open to examine it and consider economy, character, drama, dialogue, setting, language, and voice. The class will identify what’s vital and interesting in a particular scene, and how each scene fits in the work as a whole—and equally importantly, they will diagnose what slows down a scene, feels incongruous, or breaks the fictional dream, and will learn how to fix it. Participants will explore techniques for shaping, cutting, and augmenting their writing, according to a scene’s own internal rules, as well as general concepts of form and function.

For inspiration and guidance, each week the class will read and discuss a selected scene from a story or novel by a classic or contemporary master, including Penelope Fitzgerald, J.M. Coetzee, Rachel Cusk, James Baldwin, Alice Munro, and Richard Russo.

This workshop is open to writers of stories, novellas, and novels.

+ Each week’s session will include manuscript workshopping as well as a discussion of craft, using that week’s selected scene as the jumping-off point.

+ Participants should be prepared to generate 20-30 pages of new work during the session.

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants are asked to submit a manuscript (a short story or novel excerpt) of up to 5,000 words by no later than 9:00 AM on April 9. Please email the manuscript to with the subject line: “CHRISTENSEN WORKSHOP MSS.” *Word docs (ideally) or PDFs only, please.

DATES The workshop will meet every Wednesday between April 18 and June 20, unless unforeseen scheduling issues should arise.

PAYMENTS MWPA members may pay for this workshop in one payment, or may pay in three installments of $150, due at registration and the first of each month (May, June). *PLEASE NOTE If you have selected to pay for this multi-week workshop on the installment option, once registration for the workshop has closed, you are responsible for paying all of the remaining installments. If you should, for any reason, leave the workshop after registration has closed, you are still responsible for paying all of the remaining installments.

CEU The MWPA is proud to offer Continuing Education Units (CEU) for this workshop. The CEU is a nationally recognized method of quantifying the time spent in the classroom during non-credit learning. Ten hours of instruction equal one (1) CEU. (*Please note that by definition, CEUs are non-credit continuing education and therefore not transferrable as academic credit.)

ChristensenKate Christensen is the author of seven novels, including The Great Man, which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, and The Last Cruise, forthcoming from Doubleday in July 2018. She has also written two memoirs, Blue Plate Special and How to Cook a Moose, which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her essays and articles have been published in various magazines, including VogueElle, BookforumO, the Oprah Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Food and Wine, as well as many anthologies, most recently Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed, edited by Meghan Daum, and The Bitch is Back, edited by Cathi Hanauer. She lives with her husband in Portland, Maine.

All MWPA workshops require advanced registration. We accept registration by phone, mail, and online via PayPal. We cannot guarantee registration in the final 24-hours before a workshop, and can rarely accommodate day-of registration.

If you need to withdraw from a class after registering for any reason, please email or call the MWPA immediately. You may be eligible for a partial refund or credit, depending on how far in advance you cancel.

For any questions regarding this workshop, please contact Hannah Perry at

Call 207-228-8263 and register with your VISA or MasterCard.

If you prefer to pay by mail, please print this registration form (downloadable PDF) and mail it to the MWPA with a check or credit card information.



The MWPA is proud to offer one full scholarship to this workshop for members-only. Scholarships are awarded on a combination of need and merit. Application Due in the MWPA office on April 6 at 9:00 a.m.

Registration in any MWPA workshop, program, or event constitutes your agreement to our terms and conditions.