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Teacher Spotlight: Kristina Tate

Kristina Tate is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. She has lived in Arizona, San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe, New York City, Australia and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in Narratively, Guernica, BOMB and others. She is currently working on a memoir and a novel.

This winter, Kristina will be teaching Building a Scene. Here is what she has to say about the class!

Q: Describe what happens in a typical class:
In class, we’ll read masters of scene. We’ll deconstruct successful scenes, identifying the setting, inner structure, character, POV, movement choreography and dialogue, learning not only the elements of the scene itself, but of how they comprise the larger story. Then we’ll practice, we’ll edit, and learn to plump up our own scenes, making our stories more compelling and complete.

Q: What do you like most about teaching this class?
A: My brain thinks cinematically. When I picture my stories, I envision them on film. What scene would the film open up with? What angles capture the best light? What fabulous actress is going to play me? What fabulous villain will play my mother? Etc., etc., etc. This class gives me an opportunity to sink deeper into that space with some of my favorite kinds of people—writers. Stories are better in writing than on film because we get to play every role, the director, casting director, producer, director of photographer, stunt double, and so on.

Q: Who do you recommend this class to?
A: Writers of all levels who want to get better at identifying scene, creating scene, and telling stories cinematically.

Q: What do you hope students will get out of it?
A: I’m not a poet. Never have been. If something poetic comes from me, it’s usually subconscious or accidental, but I don’t think you have to be poetic to be a good storyteller. I hope my students walk away with more knowledge of one of the most artful, yet dynamic, skills of storytelling—scene building.

Q: Describe your writing process/practice:
A: The most important part of my writing practice is discipline. I get my best work done when I do it, not when the mood strikes me, or the words coming pouring out of me, but regularly—ritualistically—from 9am to 12pm six days a week. Only when I am maintaining that schedule do I ever feel productive, does my work ever transport me. Funny enough, that’s also when I feel the most sane in the rest of my life. It’s like exercise, or therapy. Do it often enough and it’s eventually going to work for you. The best writing advice I ever received: Butt in seat.

You can learn more about Kristina’s work by visiting https://kristinatate.com/

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