2018 Action Project – Virtual Writers’ Workshop


Soaad Hossam, Maram Osama, and Fabrice Guerrier

The Challenge

Storytelling is a universal way for humans to communicate. Since the dawn of humanity, cavemen would gather around the campfire and tell stories about their hunting trips. Storytelling has been embedded in the history and culture of every nation on earth, from Homer’s Odyssey in the West to the collection in Arabian Nights in the East. In a time of rising nationalistic and xenophobic voices, it is increasingly important that humans who are divided by political agendas can find common roots within an activity that is embedded in their evolution as a species.

Project Overview

This virtual workshop brings together writers from the East and West to collaboratively produce a work of fiction with a theme of their choosing. The workshop teaches a group of writer’s creative writing and storytelling skills via Google Hangout and group chat in Slack. Participants receive handouts and educational resources before the virtual meetings. In a step-by-step guide, they learn what it takes to create and design a great story; from universe to characters to plot. In three sessions, the story takes shape. Firstly, writers brainstorm and ideate on themes of the story. They fill out the outline, write the story, then discuss the story and make final iterative changes. At the end of the process, the entire group will have produced a single short story that will be shared online on the Gabr Foundation website, as well as Medium and other outlets.  The stories will be available in Arabic and English.

The Goals

Uniting writers from Eastern and Western cultures shall produce a unique and fun work of fiction that everyone around the globe can enjoy. The vehicle for collaboration will be a neutral medium of storytelling, which will help break down barriers and misperceptions through the vein of a completed joint project.

Population Served

The project will invite Gabr Fellows from all years to participate in the project. Through a targeted social media campaign, the project will reach out to other prospective writers who have expressed interest in similar initiatives and have a passion for writing.

Project Milestones

Phase 1: Identifying Creative Writers

Identify all the writers both from Egypt and the United States who will participate in the Virtual Writers’ Workshop.

Phase 2: Onboarding and Storytelling Ideation 

On day one, all participants meet and discuss their expectations. Upon completion, they initiate the live collaborative ideations through the worksheet to design the story, including the fictional   universe, the story plot, and characters. Each of the writers will develop a character questionnaire   to more fully develop their backgrounds.

Phase 3: Writing and Analysis of Draft

Each of the participants will be writing within their specific character’s worldview, created from   the character questionnaire. Each author’s work will be weaved within the broader narrative of a three-act plot jointly designed by all participants.

Phase 4: Editing and Content Production

The three short pieces will be designed over the course of two weeks. Once all writing is   submitted, there will be time allotted for feedback, editing, and the design of the book cover.   Once all elements are approved, the story will be sent for publication.

Expected Outcome

  • Bring together writers from Egypt and the United States to hone their skills in collaborative fiction writing, storytelling, and critical thinking to design a compelling short story.
  • Publish a novella jointly created by a cohort of authors that can serve as a conversation starter within both American and Egyptian societies.

Furthering the Foundation’s Mission

The workshop furthers the Foundation’s mission by engaging writers in a collaborative project to produce literature that will allow them to explore themselves and their partners in a truthful and revealing way. By being open and honest with their partners in a creative space, they can bridge divides through the power of storytelling and lay the foundation for ongoing conversation and dialogue.