Intermediate Short Story Intensive (8 meetings, over 3 months) with Neil Grayson - ONLINE
This intermediate-level short story workshop meets eight times, over the course of three months, and is designed for writers who have a number of short story drafts about which they’re excited and who feel ready to exchange critiques in a rigorous and friendly environment. Each member of the group will get to submit two stories over the course of fourteen weeks, (max ~7,000 words each) and will read the work of two peers each week. In workshop, we’ll try to see each piece on its own terms—this will mean that, before liking or disliking features of a story, we’ll try to identify its intent, what it achieves, and then finally, what potential it might have yet to realize. Close attention will be paid to the interplay of ideas and themes, as well as to the emotional/intellectual “core” of the story. Before each class, you’ll be expected to have read each story twice and given line-level comments, plus an informal 1-page letter in which you share your reaction to the piece more generally (~2 hours of work per week.) After workshop, we’ll spend some time each session in lecture-based instruction (though of course, I’m happy to be interrupted) wherein we'll refresh old concepts in fiction-writing, such as character, setting, and juxtaposition. Each of these will be mixed with quick, generative writing exercises, and much of that time will be yours to write (while guided by me.) I’ll also make myself available for a one-on-one meeting with each student, in order to discuss their own work more intensively. Limited to 8 writers.
WHEN: 8 meetings, over 3 months: Mondays, Feb. 20 - May 25 (6 - 8pm EST)
DATES: Feb. 20 & 27; March 13 & 27; April 10 & 24; May 8 & 22
WHERE: Online, via Zoom video conference
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
NEIL RICHARD GRAYSON was raised in the woods of upstate New York. Since then, he’s been a schoolteacher, video game designer, rock climbing instructor, bartender, and cross-country hitchhiker. He holds degrees in English & Education from SUNY Potsdam, and an MFA from Ohio State University. His fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in CutBank, HOBART, StoryScape Journal, Fiction Southeast, among others. He’s been awarded fellowships from The Kenyon Review, Community of Writers, and Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart.
GOALS OF THIS WORKSHOP
- Gain a comfort and patience with the writing process which makes it easier to work.
- Receive generous and honest feedback from both your peers and your teacher.
- Grow your skills both as an editor of your own work and as a reader of others’.
- Generate a cache of new material, both for drafts-in-progress and for completely new pieces.
WEEK 1: STORYTELLING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
In this introductory week, I make a spectacular show of failing to answer the big questions about storytelling—Why do we tell stories? Who for? For what purpose? What do stories do once they’re inside us? Why do they still maintain such enormous power over us? This will, hopefully, give students a new way to look at their own work as they move forward.
WEEK 2: DETAILS & IMAGES
We’ll start this with a lesson about how details behave in the mind, and then we’ll take a crack at using them to construct characters.
WEEK 3: TONE & WORD CHOICE
Word choice and tone might be the same thing at different scales. In this lesson, we’ll talk about how our word choices have an effect on a piece’s tone, and how tone, when broken down into its constituent parts, is nothing more than a bunch of word choices. We’ll spend time tinkering with difficult scenes (our own,) trying to explicitly use mood to make our drafts go forward.
WEEK 4: SYMBOLISM & JUXTAPOSITION
This week, we’ll talk about the abstract ideas that make up the intellectual/emotional “core” of a story, and what they do in the mind of a reader when they interact with each other.
WEEK 5: UNREALITY
This week, we’ll look at fiction’s relationship to the non-real, better known as fantasy/sci-fi. We’ll talk about what purposes these devices can serve in fiction, and their powerful ability to reveal and sharpen our view of the real world.
WEEK 6: REVISION
This week, we talk about our relationship to our own work, the long dance of revision. We hopefully will come away with an appreciation for how every individual writer makes it up as they go along, and also with a few new approaches to our own work, about which we feel enlivened.
WEEK 7: TBA
WEEK 8: TBA
RECEIVING THE ZOOM LINK: For one-day workshops, we send out the link to attend the Zoom session 1 - 2 days before the event, via email. For multi-week workshops, you should receive info and the link about 3 - 5 days before. Please mark your calendars when you first register and look for our emails. If you don't see the email in your inbox on the day before the class, please check your spam and junk mail folders (and search all folders) for an email from email@example.com before contacting us. We have found that very often our emails end up in those folders. This is based on your own email settings, and you can prevent this by adding our email as a contact.
ONLINE SESSIONS happen remotely, via Zoom video conference. All you need is a laptop, computer, or phone with functioning audio and a webcam. Those who RSVP receive directions and a link to "join" the session via email (please see above note about receiving the Zoom link). All online instructors will log on to the video conference a few minutes before the start of the session, so please plan to log on early if you'd like assistance! We'll do everything in our power to help you get comfortable with the Zoom format, though we are not able to offer technical assistance beyond basic Zoom orientation.
REFUND & CREDIT POLICIES AT PVWW
Because of non-refundable fees that we, PVWW, must pay for every transaction that happens, we are not able to give full refunds to those who register then withdraw from a workshop or class. If you withdraw from a workshop ten days or more before the start of the class: You'll receive full credit toward another workshop or class of equal value OR a refund minus 10%. If you withdraw from a workshop nine days before the start of the class up until 48 hours before: You'll receive full credit toward another class OR a refund minus 30%. If you withdraw from a workshop less than 48 hours before the start of a class or after the class has begun: We are not able to offer you credit toward another class or a partial refund, unless in the case of a medical emergency. If we have to cancel a class for any reason, you will receive a full refund, or if you choose, a credit in the amount of your payment, to be used for any future PVWW class. Anyone who does not specify whether they would like a refund or a credit for a cancelled class within 3 months will automatically be refunded. Please contact Joy (firstname.lastname@example.org) for all matters concerning credit and refunds.