Bringing Stories to Life! – Hosted by McLoughlin Gardens Society

Pick up your pen and join us…

The McLoughlin Gardens is pleased to announce a series of writing workshops with Jeanette Taylor and Margo McLoughlin. Jeanette is the author of several books of non-fiction, including The Quadra Story and Tidal Passages: A History of the Discovery Islands. Margo is a storyteller and writer based in Victoria. Her non-fiction, short stories, and articles have appeared in various anthologies, as well as Parabola Magazine. Jeanette and Margo share a love of local history, having worked together since the mid-1980’s, when they launched a puppet theatre program for the Museum at Campbell River. This summer program remains an enduring hit with families.

Bringing Stories to Life!
Online Writing Workshops with Jeanette Taylor and Margo McLoughlin
for writers of fiction and non-fiction
Spring and Fall, 2021

Each two-part workshop takes place over two days (90 minutes on a Saturday morning and 90 minutes on Sunday morning) and covers a specific topic. You are welcome to pick and choose which workshops you would like to attend. Follow up reading material will be provided. Registration fee is $50 per workshop.Numbers are limited to 20 participants, so please register early!

Workshop no. 1
Discovering Your Story
Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pacific
Please register by March 20, 2021

In this first workshop, for those who are new to writing or returning to their craft, we’ll review the basics, with the aim of giving the participants the confidence to launch a writing project, or return to one they have begun. Some aspects of the writing journey we’ll cover: what a story is and how a story works on the brain; generating story ideas and zeroing in on the story that is calling you; the value of free-writing and mind-mapping; how to sidestep the inner critic and get a first draft written; drafting a premise statement; planning strategies.

To register, please visit:

Workshop no. 2
Crafting a Compelling Character
Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pacific
Please register by April 17, 2021

Whether we’re inventing the character from scratch, or describing a figure from history, the use of sensory imagery and specific details makes our characters come alive. In this workshop, we’ll begin by examining some examples from current writers, asking, “Why does this character snap fully alive for you?” Writing exercises will help us find out what makes our characters tick and what the narrator’s relationship is to them.

To register, please visit:

Workshop no. 3
Scenes and Dialogue
Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pacific
Please register by September 18, 2021

Scenes are the building blocks of fiction and non-fiction alike. A well-crafted scene engages the reader’s interest, situating her in a specific time and place. It also reveals new information about the characters and how they are connected while advancing the story by creating new expectations. We’ll zero in on what makes a scene and the role of dialogue in giving it shape and purpose. Expect to have some fun reading your work out loud or hearing other read it!

To register, please visit:

Workshop no. 4
Point of View and Voice
Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pacific
Please register by October 23, 2021

Who is telling your story, and from what vantage point in time? Is the narrator trustworthy or do they have their own agenda? As we know well from our experience of sharing memories with siblings and family members, a story will change dramatically, depending on the point of view of the narrator. In this workshop, we’ll look at different options for point of view, including third person and first person. We’ll also experiment with switching points of view to find out more about the characters, their relationships, and their place in the story. We’ll discuss different approaches to discovering a unique voice to recount your tale. We’ll look at examples from contemporary Canadian writers to see what the author is doing with language to convey a particular voice in their writing.

To register, please visit:

Workshop no. 5
Falling in Love with Revision
Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pacific
Please register by November 20, 2021

When the first draft of a story or essay is complete, the exhilarating adventure of revision begins. Having other readers review your work can help but learning the skill of self-editing increases self-reliance and makes the revision more efficient and ultimately more satisfying. In this workshop, we’ll wrestle with the demon of structure and discuss various approaches to revision.

To register, please visit:

Winter Writing Workshop with Jeanette Taylor

McLoughlin Gardens Society is hosting a Winter Writing Workshop with Jeanette Taylor.

Saturdays: 1 – 4 p.m. Six sessions: January 18, February 1, 15 (long weekend) & 29, March 14 & 28.
Registration Fee: $305 MGS members, $325.00 non-members.
Place: Courtenay Museum.

Writing a memoir, family history, biography or fiction requires story crafting, editing savvy, and planning structures. Author and historian Jeanette Taylor believes learning to write both fiction and nonfiction requires both writing craft skills and great storytelling. “Whether you’re writing for family or hope to publish a novel, it’s all about presenting a memorable tale and characters who grab the imagination of readers,” says Taylor.

Registrants should have a subject in mind, with the basic research done, as a starting-point for class exercises. Interactive discussion and writing exercises focus on story planning, finding focus, character development, settings, scenes, writing craft, voice, writer’s block, self-motivation, and publication options. Class exercises and homework will advance your in-process writing.

The bi-monthly schedule allows time for homework, as you polish a final extract for instructor and peer critiques. You will receive a comprehensive binder of handouts to guide continuing work. An e-mail address is required, to share writing.

Registration information: Society members who are interested in taking the class are invited to register by contacting board member Christine by phone at 250-331-0600 or by e-mail at [email protected] to arrange a deposit of $100.

Other news:

McLoughlin Gardens Society is pleased to announce they now have two writers on their board, three including Christine! Writer-in-Residence next summer will be a playwright.

Embrace Your Story – workshop

EMBRACE YOUR STORY  Enter the World of Memoir

CVWS Member Marie Maccagno is facilitating the following workshop:

Four Tuesday afternoons, beginning January 15, 2019 and ending February 5, 2019
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. PST
Location: Nourish Wellness, Comox, BC – Unit C (upstairs) 1822 Comox Avenue
Cost: $90 for the session; deposit of $30 to reserve your spot.

Class size limited to 10 people; waiting list will be created.

To register, contact [email protected]

Summer workshops at McLoughlin Gardens – July 2018

McLoughlin Gardens residence

McLoughlin Gardens residence







Summer workshops:

Writing with Michelle Mulder

Are you keen to try your hand at writing for children? Join children’s book author Michelle Mulder for an afternoon workshop. This will be an opportunity to get your story underway by discovering the character who wants to tell it.

Wednesday, July 18th – “Whose Story is it Anyway?”
Time: 1 – 3:30 p.m. Registration: $40
Location: The Courtenay Museum

For registration information, please contact Christine, by phone at 250-218-5729 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Or visit the McLoughlin Gardens Society website and scroll down for information about Michelle’s workshop.

Arleen Pare

Creativity with Arleen Paré

Saturday, August 18th – “The Habit of Art”
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Registration: $60
Location: Directions sent to registrants.

For registration information, please contact Christine, by phone at 250-218-5729 or by e-mail at [email protected]. You can also register by visiting the McLoughlin Gardens Society website.

The phrase ‘the habit of art’ was coined by Jacques Maritain, an early twentieth century French philosopher and later borrowed by the American writer Flannery O’Connor.  It is a way of heightening experience as artists, poets or painters, writers or mosaisists, opening ourselves to what’s there. It is a point of view, a way of inclining our minds, a stillness. Just saying “the habit of art” can shift the view.”

In this workshop we will employ “the habit of art” to expand our practice as writers, as artists, and as individuals interested in the world.

Upcoming workshop – April 21, 2018

Junie Sawdron – “Write Yourself Home” workshop

Date: April 21, 2018
Time: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Place: upstairs at Bayside Cafe – #5 – 2760 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay
Cost: $125.00 / person
For more info & registration:

Junie was a presenter at our North Island Writers Conference held in January, 2018. Some people attending her session have invited her back to do an all-day workshop.