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Writing Workshops

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Louise Abbott offers writing workshops for elementary and secondary school students through the Writers at School program and for CEGEP students through the Writers in CEGEPs program. In March of 2010, for example, she worked with students at Champlain College and at the Bromptonville Secondary School. To find out about the content of her workshops, see  Writers at School and Writers in CEGEPs.

In the fall of 2010, Louise gave a workshop for the Quebec Writers' Federation (QWF) titled "The Art of the Profile: Defining Character in Non-Fiction."

Tuesdays, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (October 5 to November 23)
 "He is tall, and has the wholesome good looks of the nice one in a boy band, with wide-set eyes, a trace of freckles, and dark spiky hair that, even by day, sometimes bears a dusting of the glittery makeup that he wears to certain performances."

Rebecca Mead on composer Nico Muhly, The New Yorker

The profile is a popular genre of non-fiction that can be as original and perceptive as the writer who pens it. It is most often interpreted as a biographical sketch—"a concise rendering of a life through anecdote, incident, interview, and description," as an anthology of New Yorker profiles explains. But the life portrayed need not be individual. It need not be human, either. A writer can produce a profile of a community, for example, or of a racehorse. What every profile has in common, however, is that it defines the character of the subject.

"The Art of the Profile" is a workshop designed for those who are motivated by an intense curiosity and a desire to produce fresh modes of expression in profile writing. Participants will gain an understanding of the elements of a profile and learn how to research and craft profiles of varying lengths. There will be in-class writing exercises, as well as handouts to be read between sessions.


As a participant, you will be expected to complete one profile (1,200 to 1,500 words). You will present this profile to the group, at least once, for feedback. You will also be expected to read other participants' work attentively and to offer feedback—constructive criticism only—to them.

For the first meeting, you are asked to bring a profile of your choice and be prepared to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of it in some detail. The profile may have appeared in a newspaper, magazine or book. But if you prefer to bring a profile in the form of a documentary film or radio program, please do so. Just remember that it must be on a DVD or CD so that we can play an excerpt on a laptop.

For generating ideas and improving your writing style, you may want to consider the purchase of one or more of the following books:

  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Ann Lamott
  • Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White
  • On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction by William Zinsser



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