Literary Workshops 2018


(Deepening the Waters)

Dean Bakopoulos

Colaiste Pobail Bheanntraí

Mon 17 July to Fri 21 July 2017

09.30 - 12.30


Age Range


In this workshop, appropriate for writers of book-length prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) of all levels of experience, we will examine the way writers use lists, maps, and inventories to add depth and texture to a work, with a special attention to how such things deepen character, solve sticky problems of momentum, shine light in dark corners, bring structure to chaos, and help us say what seems unsayable. We will make a series of lists, maps, and inventories to go with our own works, and students will leave this workshop with a variety of blueprints and strategies towards both generating new pages and revising existing ones. Students should bring to this workshop copies of an important scene, or opening scene, (12 pages max.) from a novel or memoir in progress, preferably a scene that they know needs some work.

Handouts will be provided for the literature we will look at, but you may want to read William Maxwell’s short and beautiful novel So Long, See You Tomorrow (Vintage), which is instructive to prose writers and poets alike and will be mentioned many times over the course of the week. (An excellent audio recording of Maxwell reading this novel is available on as well.)

Dean Bakopoulos’ first novel, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was a New York Times Notable Book and was named the best novel of 2005 by The Friends of American Writers; he co-wrote the screenplay adaptation of the novel, soon-to-be-released as a film starring James Franco and Rashida Jones. His second novel, My American Unhappiness (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), was named one of the year’s best novels by The Chicago Tribune, and his third novel, Summerlong (Ecco/HarperCollins), was an independent bookstore bestseller and is now in development as a feature film based on Dean’s original screenplay. His fiction, essays, and op-eds have appeared in Zoetrope, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, Real Simple, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Dean is writer-in-residence at Grinnell College in Iowa, and also teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. He is at work on a fourth novel, Pine, and a collection of essays, Undoing, a portion of which earned Dean a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; he previously won an National Endowment for the Arts grant in 2006 for fiction.