Writer in Residence

Sharon Bala
2020-2021 Writer in Residence

The Department of English and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences are delighted to announce the appointment of Sharon Bala as Memorial University’s Writer in Residence for 2020-2021.

Sharon’s Residency will begin with an in-depth State of the Arts interview hosted by Lisa Moore. Her interview will be posted here and on the HSS website at https://www.mun.ca/hss/sota/ .
Sharon will also be offering four online workshops to the writing community here in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond. Registration for all workshops will open on Monday, February 1, and registration links will be available here on our website on that date. Note that these workshops are FREE and OPEN to anyone interested

NEW SESSION (7-8:30 pm Thursday, April 15th)
Virtual Salon for Writers of Colour

This 1.5 hour session is specifically for writers of colour living in Newfoundland and Labrador and will take the form of an informal conversation. Subjects discussed will be determined by the participants’ interests and curiosities so bring your warm drink and burning questions. Does my novel need a glossary? Can I write in dialect? Should non-English words be italicized? How is marketing different for writers of colour? Is it true we get paid less? What’s a diversity panel? These are some of the topics we could cover but this conversation belongs to the participants. My role is to answer questions and facilitate open conversation, not teach, so we will follow your noses. If you are a writer of colour (or a person of colour who is curious about writing) and living in NL, this session is for you. Registration is limited to 12 participants, so grab your spot at this link!

Register for the Character Workshop, Mastering Dialogue, and the Art of Revision by following this link and selecting the date(s) you want! You will receive a confirmation email (You have tickets!) when you register, and then an email reminder including the webex link for the workshop  two days before the event.

1. CHARACTER WORKSHOP (2 hours) 7-9 pm Thursday February 11th

In the domain of fiction, character is king. Long after we’ve forgotten plot twists, the particulars of setting, and even the narrative style, of our favourite books, it is the characters we remember. In this workshop we will investigate the difference between what Forster called flat and rounded characters, talk about arcs and epiphanies, and learn how to create imaginary humans who feel true enough to be real.

Register for the Character Workshop by following this link and selecting February 11

2. STORY DISSECTION (2 hours) 7-9 pm Thursday, February 25th

This workshop is like a biology lab. Together, we will dissect an audio story, first by listening, then by slicing it down the centre, and taking it apart piece by piece, searching for the structure that underpins the narrative. We will discuss the Aristotelian arc, the three-act structure, the three types of stakes, foreshadowing, framing, and turning points.

Register for Story Dissection here. This workshop is capped at 25!

3. MASTERING DIALOGUE (2 hours) 7-9 pm Thursday, March 11th

This workshop will explore dialogue in its three forms - summary, indirect, and direct - by reading and discussing examples of each. We will see how dialogue can multi-task, be used not just to convey speech but also advance plot, reveal character, add atmosphere, and enhance setting. We’ll also explore the philosophy of quotation marks, consider body language, action, and subtext, concluding with a tip sheet.

Register for Mastering Dialogue by following this link and selecting March 11

4. THE ART OF REVISION (2 hours) 7-9 pm Thursday, April 8th

This workshop is ideal for writers who already have a novel or short story drafted and are struggling to self-edit. But having a completed draft is not a requirement. All are welcome. We will consider the best method for tackling a revision, discuss the process of writing, and explore some common issues that crop up in early drafts, including: beginnings, endings, characters, pace, conflict, flashbacks, action vs. interiority, and every writer’s favourite cliche: show don’t tell. Finally, participants will be given a baker’s dozen of practical advice.

Register for The Art of Revision by following this link and selecting April 8

Sharon Bala’s bestselling debut novel, The Boat People, won the 2020 Newfoundland & Labrador Book Award and the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, was short listed for several awards, and is in translation in four languages. In 2017 Sharon won the Writers’ Trust/ McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for her short story “Butter Tea at Starbucks” and had a second story on the long-list. Sharon is a member of The Port Authority, a St. John’s writing group. Visit her at sharonbala.com or connect with her by email at sharon.bala@mun.ca.


Department of English

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000