Online Workshop 0.1: Photo

October 1st, 2013

The first test of the Transom Online Workshop (TOW) has begun: eight learners in four countries on two continents. We’re already impressed with their work. The goal of this first session is to stimulate basic interviewing and story structure skills. From the Outline:

Week 1: Assignment

  1. Using a pen, some paper, and a camera interview seven strangers by asking the question: “What are you afraid of?” Write down what they say. Ask follow-up questions. Try to find a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  2. Take the person’s photo.
  3. Choose the most interesting interview and edit it down to three sentences in the order of beginning, middle, and end.

(Subsequent assignments are similar, except with audio and video interviews.) Here’s some TOW learner week-one submissions:

Photo/interview by Emile B Klein

These kids out here scare me man, but you know the worst part? They ain’t never been out to a shooting range. Me, I don’t mess with guns, I’ll take a knife though; kitchen, box cutter, whatever ya got. —Twin


Photo/interview by Laura Irving

I was a twelve year old boy, flying in the back of a biplane with my father. He said, get up on that wing boy and when you jump, for goodness sake don’t forget to pull the rip cord. Nowadays, the only thing that I’m truly fearful of is fear itself. —Richard W


Photo/interview by Alain Boisvert

So many members of my family died of cancer including my grandfather who was my best friend. I could talk and talk and he would listen to every word I said without interrupting. He lived nearby and I went there every weekend and one day he died of cancer and that lingers in my mind. —Jennifer


TOW Testers

[The TOW is] instructor-facilitated, but student-led. The basic philosophy of these courses, different from both and The Transom Story Workshop, is “learn-to-learn.” Our goal is to give out directions, you take the trip, and then, presumably, are equipped to travel, maybe get lost, but keep making more stories.
—Jay Allison, “TOW (Prototype): Intro”

We chose learners suited to TOW’s minimal, experimental approach. This three-week alpha test is running in a private Facebook Group, and ends mid-October.

The TOW Mentor, now and in November, is Scott Carrier, author, photographer, professor, and radio producer. Thanks to the Knight Prototype Fund for support.

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