Writing the Short Story (with Glen David Gold)

Glen David Gold


Number of sessions: 8

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Tuesdays, January 12, 19, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 1

Course fee: $525

Jealous of the glittering jewel of a small, precisely-timed short story? Or amazed at the entire world fit into 5,000 words and bursting at the narrative seams? The way short stories work—when they work—is mysterious but not impossible to crack. There are ways to enhance the almost alchemic way a writer can engage a reader’s imagination. This workshop will bring out the best in your prose, considering factors like structure, elision, and the “racetrack” theory—and above all managing the interplay of empathy and intellect that all great short stories traverse. The focus of this workshop will be similar to the novel-writing class, with one huge exception: the curious question of what it means for a manuscript to feel “complete” will be on our minds.

This eight-week workshop runs on the traditional M.F.A. model: you will turn in short fiction up to 5,000 words for your fellow students to critique constructively, based on the understanding that we are all trying to make the work the best version of itself it can be. Be prepared to write a brief (less than one page) critique of each manuscript and to speak up in class discussion. Our goal is to figure out how each story ticks, and to open up possibilities you hadn’t discovered on your own of how to improve and polish your story.

Each workshop will discuss two to three students’ manuscripts, depending on enrollment. Before class starts, I’ll ask two volunteers to turn in work to be discussed during the first workshop, and I will disseminate the Rules of Engagement for how to approach the manuscripts. During the first workshop, we’ll make up a schedule so that people can turn in work earlier in the semester — or later. In your heart, you already know if you’re an “earlier” or “later” person.

It’s likely I’ll find examples of published short fiction that we will analyze until they fall into little pieces, so we can make them explain to us how they work.

Glen David Gold is the author of the international bestselling novels Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside. His short fiction, essays, journalism, and memoir have appeared in McSweeney’s, Playboy, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Tin House, and Zyzzyva. He’s written comic books for DC and Dark Horse, and podcasts for The Thrilling Adventure Hour and Welcome to Night Vale. His three-volume memoir, I Will Be Complete, is forthcoming from Knopf.

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