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Short Prose that Packs a Punch with Lara Ehrlich

$280.00 · August 12

In this workshop, participants will break down examples of short stories that pack a punch, investigate what makes them powerful, and apply those elements to their own craft.

Start Date

August 12

Day(s) of the Week


Class Times

6:30pm – 9:00pm CT




Zoom (online)





This class will skip meeting on 9/2. Its last session will be 9/9.

Short can be deep. Quick can cut to the quick. Short stories can shatter your heart. In this workshop, participants will break down examples of short stories that pack a punch, investigate what makes them powerful, and apply those elements to their own craft.

The four-week course, taught by Lara Ehrlich—award-winning author of the story collection Animal Wife (2020) and the novel Bind Me Tighter Still (2025), both from Red Hen Press—employs selected readings, generative exercises, and revision prompts to lead writers through the process of writing and revising short stories, with added focus on publication strategies.

By the end of this workshop, students will have gained an understanding of the key elements that contribute to the power of short fiction and developed techniques for crafting concise yet resonant narratives. They will have created their own short story/stories through guided generative writing exercises and received constructive feedback and insights on their work, including next steps for revision and possible publication.

Students will be asked to read approximately 1 short story per week, as well as in class.

Readings include:
• “Sticks,” by George Saunders
• Select pieces by Lydia Davis
• “Bullet in the Brain,” by Tobias Wolff
• “The Mushroom Queen,” by Liz Ziemska
• “Heads of the Colored People,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
• And more!

Week 1: Understanding Short Fiction
Introduction to short fiction: What sets it apart and why it’s powerful.
Analysis of exemplary pieces.
Discussion on key elements: brevity, economy of language, and thematic depth.
Initial brainstorming and writing exercises.

Week 2: Crafting Compelling Characters and Plot
Exploring techniques for creating vivid characters and engaging plots in limited space.
Guided exercises to develop character sketches and plot outlines for short pieces.
Peer feedback on character development and plot structure.

Week 3: Setting the Scene: Atmosphere and Imagery
Delving into the importance of setting and atmosphere in short fiction.
Crafting evocative descriptions and imagery.
Writing exercises focused on setting and sensory detail.

Week 4: Editing and Polishing Your Piece
Strategies for revising and editing short fiction.
Workshop session: students share their revised pieces for feedback.
Tips for submitting short fiction for publication.
Q&A session: addressing any remaining questions and offering final advice.

This class will include:

  • Whole class workshopping of student work
  • Small group workshopping of student work
  • In-class peer feedback
  • In-class verbal instructor feedback
  • Optional sharing of student work in class
  • In-class writing exercises
  • Generative exercises
  • Editorial/revising strategies and exercises
  • Drafting/planning exercises
  • Writing exercises or writing assignments outside of class
  • In-class reading
  • Discussion of outside texts
  • Craft talks
  • Class discussion

About Lara Ehrlich

Lara Ehrlich’s work been published in literary magazines, including F(r)iction, Hunger Mountain, and StoryQuarterly, and has been recognized with many awards and fellowships; most recently, Animal Wife received Red Hen Press’s Fiction Award, judged by New York Times-bestselling author, Ann Hood, who called the collection “sensual and intelligent, with gorgeous prose.” Animal Wife, which launched in Sept 2020, has been praised as “remarkable” by Lit Hub, who said “the collection is a standout in a season full of amazing new releases.” Lara lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter.