Upcoming classes: Fiction
TUESDAYS, APRIL 4—25 | The election of Donald Trump means that the time to expand the literary and political imagination is upon us. The time to simply write is past. It’s time to fight and write. But how does the engaged writer do so? Using tried and true techniques—writing exercises, close readings, group discussion, and critique—this research and practice-oriented course will prepare you to rise to the call to fight and write. The course is designed for journalists, essayists, fiction, creative nonfiction writers, and poets. Among the techniques and questions we will explore are:
Cultivating the engaged writer’s mind.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, APRIL 6 —MAY 11 | 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Children of Men, and The Handmaid’s Tale—some of the most powerful literature of resistance to evil has been dystopian writing. What skills do writers use to create an alternative world that is compelling in itself but also speaks to the problems of our own world? In this writing workshop, we will read and analyze selections from dystopian short stories and novels and write our own dark tales. There will be weekly writing assignments and approximately 20 pages of reading a week.
Jenny Bitner’s short stories and articles have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Mississippi Review, The Fabulist, Writing That Risks, and Fence magazine.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, APRIL 6—MAY 4 | This five-week course explores and exploits the limits of flash fiction. Although flash fiction has expanded in length to 750 and even 1,000 words, this course limits you to no more than 400 words and begins with the 100-word story. The shorter the form, the easier it is to understand how individual lines of the story relate to the narrative arc—that mysterious coalescence in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Flash is ideal for seasoned writers who want to mine new ore, for beginning writers who want to tell a whole story, and for writers working in mixed genres.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, APRIL 8 & 15 | “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”
This two-day course will explore the implications of this statement for anyone interested in fiction writing. (And no, we’re not talking about plagiarism.) You’ll find practical solutions and inspiration by looking at such models as newspaper headlines, fairy tales and myth, short-story classics, and non-narrative forms such as recipes and to-do lists. You’ll examine stories such as David Foster Wallace’s “Good People” and Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” with an eye to what their writers have “stolen” and how they’ve made their tributes fresh.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, APRIL 19 —JUNE 7 | A first draft is a goofy-looking thing, a lean-to of hopes and fears and observations you want to build into something that connects with an audience. But how? Stephen King says a short story is like leading your reader to a room in a house to show them something; a novel is like building a house and showing off every room. Paul Bowles said he wrote fiction because he wanted to destroy the world. They’re both right. Each method involves planning, structure and focus, and times for SMASHING THINGS TO PIECES.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, APRIL 25—MAY 30 | Is it true or is it fiction – and does it matter? Often the lines between memoir and fiction can be blurry. And most of great literature has at least some elements of truth in it, from books that are largely autobiographical like Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and Chris Kraus’s Aliens and Anorexia to fictional worlds like Raymond Carver’s and Denis Johnson’s that are drawn from a world that could only be created through personal experience.
In this class we will explore memories, experiences, and characters from our own lives and turn them into fictional stories, blending the richness of our emotional and felt experiences with elements from our imagination to create compelling writing.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, APRIL 29—JUNE 3 | “Every short story is a drama,” V. S. Pritchett tells us. “A movement towards disclosure, a complete revelation of character, the changing of an emotion, the close of a mood…”
Do you have an idea for one of these brief illuminating jewels? Have you written a first draft but don’t know where to go from there? Do you need feedback, encouragement, and a deadline to get that next draft out? This class, suitable for story writers of all levels, will combine craft lessons, in-class writing exercises, workshopping, and a look at a few published stories for inspiration and to see how they’re made.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, APRIL 30 & MAY 7 | Whether you have a half-written piece tucked away in a drawer, or a new story fresh out of the printer, this highly interactive, two-session workshop will give you concrete tools to strengthen your work and publish it. We’ll talk about revision as a process of “re-envisioning,” and you’ll learn how to accomplish this in do-able steps. You’ll have the chance to step back and look at your piece, assess where it would benefit from more work, and select among different in-class revision exercises to get the process going.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, MAY 9 & 23 | Are your writing ideas (not to mention to-do lists and appointments) on a mess of Post-it notes, random online apps that you never use, and crumpled paper napkins? Do you forget, lose, and spend too much time looking for things? This class will introduce the bullet journal – a handwritten, analog “everything book” to plan for your future, organize your present, and track your past. Many of us writers are “creative types” with messy desks that can sometimes hinder more than help our creative life.
This class will take part in two sessions.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, MAY 20 | Whether you’re writing about your own life in memoir or personal essay, or developing characters and situations for a fictional plot, imagery brings your material to life. Effective imagery goes far beyond flowery description to reveal character, mood, context, tone, setting, and theme. In this one-day intensive, we’ll explore how to make imagery work for you on the page. We’ll use exercises of intuition and right-brain association to harvest images, and we’ll look at how to choose and shape those images. Analyzing the uses of imagery in published pieces will help you cultivate your own voice and technique.→ READ MORE