This class will mix structured workshop with craft lecture and discussion of several published stories. We’ll consider traditional story elements like character, conflict, and plot, as well as less-frequently discussed, harder-to-nail-down, but crucial concepts like information, revelation, and defamiliarization. Workshop will be productive, supportive, and focused on possibilities. Participants should have a 2-to-25-page (double spaced) story draft and previous workshop experience.
Week 1: Surprise vs. Suspense: What’s the difference? What does a reader need to know, and what should be withheld from them? What role does information play? How can we rethink the show-vs.-tell paradigm?
Week 2: Beginnings & Endings: How do stories differ from novels, and what about the form of the short story makes endings so difficult to nail?
Week 3: Getting Weird: What does it mean to think of strangeness as an inherent positive quality in art? How do embrace our weirdness, avoid cliché, defamiliarize ourselves from our work, and make our stories uniquely our own?
Week 4: Making a Scene: Scenes are often considered the building blocks of narrative story-telling—but what should they accomplish? What should we leave out? Are there tricks for dialogue?
Week 5: Getting to the Heart of It: How do we understand what our stories are really about, what’s really going on? And how do we decide what to leave submerged and what to make explicit?
Week 6: Radical Revision: So much of writing is rewriting. What does sustained, high-level revision look like? How should we approach revision? What does it mean to transform a story?