"Treat yourself to a screenplay analysis by Dara Marks; she's worth every penny."
Creative Screenwriting Magazine, 1999 Script Analysts Review
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Engaging the Feminine Heroic

An Intensive Creativity Workshop & Retreat for Women Writers and Artists with Dara Marks & Deb Norton


Dara Marks and Deb Norton are two extraordinary muses who will guide you up to the Gods and down into the underworld in order to reawaken your own inner storyteller. You will not merely emerge with a greater mastery of the elements of story, but with an experiential understanding of where to find it within yourself. While grounded in myth and metaphor it is never the less a thrilling exploration to the center of your creative being.

- Lyn Greene, Executive Producer, Nip/Tuck and Boss

Engaging the Feminine Heroic is designed to help women writers and artists gain greater access to their own internal creative vision in order to write stronger and more compelling stories. This course uses mythic epics as a means of entering more deeply into communication with the feminine mysteries surrounding our shared experiences of maidenhood, marriage, childbirth, menopause, crone wisdom and dying.

The feminine heroic may be difficult to recognize (even for women) because most of the popular stories in our culture are grounded in the masculine heroic journey. Whereas the essential goal of the hero's journey is to discover, defend, declare and establish our Self in the world, the great achievement of the feminine quest is communion, connection and relatedness to the Other. Therefore, it isn't grit or physical prowess that gives the feminine her heroic stature, it is her ability to descend into dark, forbidding places that lie within each of us to retrieve our essence, which is interrelatedness and love.

Dara and Deb's teaching methods complement each other seamlessly—they are indeed a Dream Team! The supportive atmosphere, carefully nurtured by Deb and Dara, encourages writers to find their own truth, and even more important, gives them the courage to write it down. Under their skillful guidance, I discovered things I never knew I wanted to write about, or even thought I could write about, and I was excited to be able to share my work with others in the safe environment of their workshop.

- Ellen Sandler, former Co-Executive Producer/Writer, Everybody Loves Raymond, and author of The TV Writer's Handbook (Bantam/Dell)

The story of our humanity is encoded in all epic mythologies. They reveal how we grow and evolve, how we face life's conflicts and obstacles, and how we must endure death experiences in order to create new life. In this course we de-code myth as a means of gaining valuable insight and perspective on the archetypal human dramas that we all inescapably reenact. Archetypes are universal patterns of human behavior that we all consciously or unconsciously recognize. There is enormous power when a story taps into archetypal characters or situations because they enable the audience to identify with the story on the deepest possible level.
Gaining access to the feminine heroic is a heroic journey in itself. This course takes writers on a guided initiation into the feminine realm where you will:
  • Transform life's pain and hardships into creative expression.
  • Re-context your experiences, giving them archetypal relevance.
  • Discover an incorruptible connection to the essence of the human story.

Course Elements

Dara and Deb lovingly and skillfully provided four fabulous days saturated with curious exploration, deep introspection, and heartfelt realization. A safe and sacred container provided the freedom to “run wild”—and I found myself poking and prodding into even the most secret, and lost places within me. I walked away a little stronger, and a little taller. If this one calls to you, be sure to answer.

- Donna DeNomme, Award-winning author Turtle Wisdom: Coming Home to Yourself; Ophelia's Oracle: Discovering the Healthy, Happy, Self-Aware, and Confident Girl in the Mirror

Lecture – Each section of the workshop begins with a talk, exploring various aspects of feminine epic mythologies and their archetypal relevance in our personal experiences and life journeys.

Discussion – One of the predominant themes of this course is the universality of our human experiences. Therefore, sharing these experiences is essential to helping us expand our ability to see ourselves in each other and each other in ourselves. Writing only takes on depth and meaning when it penetrates these boundaries of interconnectedness.

Exercises – We will explore the stages of the feminine heroic journey through timed writing, ritual and play. Our exercises are designed to bypass the critical voices that obstruct creative flow.

Writing – Personal writing is encouraged during non-workshop hours. There will be small "homework" assignments, but participants will find that the work in class will stimulate journal writing, spontaneous poetry, work on a personal project, and other forms of creative expression.

More Testimonials

There was a beautiful balance to the retreat – new insights/ancient mythology; seasoned writers/newbies; explorations into the masculine/feminine; delving into light/darkness in our writings and within ourselves. I would whole heartedly recommend time with Dara or Deb to anyone serious about improving their craft or deepening their love of writing.
- Mary Sequoia Hamilton, Screenwriter/Filmmaker, Author

Writing used to feel like trying to escape from an undertow when it wanted to pull you in. After this class it feels like surfing.
- Georgia Menides, Writer StillGreen

Whatever kind of writer you are, whether you make your living by your pen, or have only dreamed of putting the words of your heart on the page, Engaging the Feminine Heroic, is the workshop you need. Part academic adventure, part kick-in-the-creative-process bootcamp, the journey that Dara Marks and Deb Norton guide you on is magic, deep, dangerous and transformational. I consider it the finest, most concentrated learning experience of my life.
- Carolynne Ciceri, Writer, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

I left the retreat with a new sense of my own journey and a deep acceptance that was not there before. I now understand that the underworld is where the jewels are. Thank you Dara and Deb, I truly felt I was safe, in a sacred space, to explore and mine. Your guidance is gentle, wise and profound.
- Julie Lancaster Morris, Actress

I have rarely experienced such generosity of wisdom and heart as provided by Dara Marks and Deb Norton. This is an experience I am most grateful to have had, and will repeat when the opportunity presents itself. Dara and Deb took us to places of the mind and heart I had never explored, and wish to return to again, and again.
- Kris Welchman, Writer

For more information:

Dara Marks
Tel: 805-640-1307
dara@daramarks.com