Manhattan Magazine Hosts Scary Writing Workshop

By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor

Manhattan Magazine held a Scary Story Workshop where students were invited to strengthen their creative writing skills with reading and writing poetry using horror themes inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 

Students gathered in Kelly 3.05, occupying almost every seat at the table to practice their writing skills. While the workshop was hosted by Manhattan Magazine, the event itself was led by two professors, Adam Koehler Ph.D., and Dominika Wrozynski Ph.D.

The event was popular and many students had the beginning of a short story that they were working on. 

Junior Claire Cunniffe, a literary editor for the magazine, noted her main takeaways from the event. 

“I learned different new ways to write poetry and fiction,” Cunniffe said. “Overall the experience was great, everyone was really friendly and it felt very open and comfortable. I would recommend it for anybody who wants to learn to write better.”

 Koehler explained the inspiration for the event, and why he thought the genre would be popular among writers.

“We were Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the ways in which writing works it’s a communal activity as well as solitary as it is when you are always writing to others,” Koehler said. “So the idea of getting people together, especially this time of year, scary stories are in the air as part of the sort of moment that we’re in right now.” 

Koehler said he hopes that those who participated saw the way in which thinking about their target audience plays a role in creating a strong story. 

“It makes sense to kind of pull a bunch of writers into a room in order to have them think through what it means to write for an audience. With this specific goal, right, which is to sort of bring these more scary corners of our lives to life for each other, and to celebrate it to have fun with it,” said Koehler. 

The entire conference room was filled with participants who came for a variety of different reasons. Both poetry and fictional writing were discussed. 

Participants got to figure out how to generate ideas. Wrozynski said oftentimes that’s the hardest part about writing which is why the event was hosted.

“I hope they had fun,” Koehler said. “I really hope that there’s some joy in it, you know, it’s not a graded thing. It’s supposed to be in the spirit of the season, and I want them to enjoy the process. It’s hard work to write. It’s very difficult. The pleasure and the difficulty are timeless. But it’s just great to remind yourself that you’re part of the community because so much of the process is so solitary.”

According to Wronzynski, most professional writers have writing groups and writing partners outside of their jobs. She writes with a small group of women that she’s been writing with for a very long time. Wronzynski wanted to show writers that they can work to help each other. 

The participants who went to the workshop were given the opportunity to submit their finished short story for publication and a chance to win a book.

“This event is sort of a very small way to show people how powerful peers can be, how you can be in a room of people who are interested in the same thing, and how you can bounce ideas off of each other,” Wronzynski said.

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