John Cheever once stopped himself in the middle of a reading at FAWC and said, “Hell, I can tell it better than this.” Then he looked up and told the story as it had happened, instead of reading what he’d written.
Almost all stories begin somewhere in an author’s experience, and are imagined and reimagined as the author guides the piece into a fulfilling fictional whole. And every one is different. What urgency drives a reader to turn the page? What makes a character feel alive, unique, believable? Which scenes need to be told dramatically and where does a narrator step in to lead the reader?
We ‘ll begin with the raw material: what stories are you anxious to explore and develop, and why? These may be tales you know but have never written, or pieces you’ve worked through many drafts already. Because this is a longer, winter class, we’ll have time to start with a germ and work it into a full piece, through exercises, readings, and revisions. We’ll use 24Pearl’s blog form to get to know each other and help each other develop compelling, original work. The New Yorker archive (accessible to anyone who subscribes) will give us access to a wide variety of authors, but our most important text will be your work.
You’re welcome in this class if you write or want to write fiction. Past classes have included a mix of people who are accomplished in different fields and have stories they want to tell. Some have been writing for years and some are just beginning. The meeting of different minds makes a dynamic experience for everyone.
Heidi Jon Schmidt has published stories and essays in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Grand Street, Epoch, and many others. Her stories have been anthologized in The O'Henry Prize Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, etc., and won the James Michener and the Ingram Merrill awards for fiction. The Harbormaster’s Daughter (2012) and The House on Oyster Creek (2010), her most recent books, were published by Penguin/NAL.