The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Home / The Piper Writers Studio / The Piper Writers Studio Presents Visiting Faculty Susan Devan Harness
Picture of Piper Writers Studio Visiting Faculty Susan Devan Harness
Original image credit: The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones

The Piper Writers Studio Presents Visiting Faculty Susan Devan Harness

Date(s): Friday, January 11, 2019, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, January 12, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281 (view map)
Genre and Form(s): Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Journalism

Individual Cost: $119 Regular, $99 Student 
Bundled Cost: 
$210 Regular, $175 Student

About the Classes

Join writer, lecturer, cultural anthropologist, oral historian, and Piper Writers Studio Visiting Faculty, Susan Harness for two unique nonfiction workshop opportunities on Friday, January11 and/or Saturday, January 12, 2109. If you bundle both classes for a Writers Intensive, you save even more! 

Harness joins the Piper Writers Studio from Fort Collins, Colorado and will be in town for only these two days to work with writers around the valley on building their creative nonfiction skills. Seats are limited, so register early.

Putting the “Creative” in Creative Nonfiction

Friday, January 11, 2019, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

You know how you can sit around in a group and there is always someone who can tell the wildest, funniest, or captivating stories? And you wonder how they do it, time and time again. In this workshop we’ll explore how to construct a written, rich narrative. It is all about the details. By the end of this workshop, class participants will be able to 1) create other characters which can aide, or impede your story, 2) create dialogue that is realistic and 3) use our five senses to bring these scenes to life.

When you come to class, be prepared to work with at least three events or experiences for vignettes.  We will do a lot of writing and reflection in this class, so come ready to sit, close your eyes, let your mind wander, then write down your vignettes. 

The Art of Interview: Asking the “Write” Questions in Writing Nonfiction

Saturday, January 12, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

We talk to other people about their lives for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes we simply want to find out more about them, to find out what we have in common. Other times we are interested in their experience and use this information to understand what’s important to them, who they are and why they do what they do. We may go further and want to explore how they see their role in the world, what they are trying to accomplish.  People are interesting and we find out just how interesting they are through their stories. But where do we start? It starts with having a constructed conversation. This workshop focuses on creating the questions that help us discover answers. We will do a lot of writing and interviewing in this class, so come ready to talk, learn things about someone you don’t know, and construct an article that is meaningful and interesting.

In this exploratory workshop, participants will learn how to think about all the ways someone’s story is interesting, how to collect information about that person and their story, and how to determine the point, or points, that will make their story important to tell to others. We will work to produce an end product that will document someone’s life experience and what that experience has meant to them, and to convey it to a larger audience.

After this workshop participants will be able to begin to feel comfortable talking with someone they don’t know, think about things that interest them about that person, and construct a list of questions that helps them dive deeper. We will then take that information and weave a narrative that could be used as a basis of a general interest article. Therefore, prior to the workshop class participants are asked to reflect on their lives and think about all the experiences they’ve had, their interests, their jobs, their passions, or defining events in their life.

Meet Your Instructor

Piper Writers Studio Instructor Susan Devan Harness

Susan Devan Harness, author of Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption, is a member of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes. She is a writer, a lecturer, a cultural anthropologist and oral historian. Harness received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Montana and her M.A. in Cultural Anthropology as well as Creative Nonfiction writing from Colorado State University. Her profession, as well as her experience as an American Indian transracial adoptee, gives her a unique perspective on the history of Native Americans in contemporary culture.