Down the Rabbit Hole: Writing Strange and Innovative Fiction (with Leonora Desar) - ONLINE
In this class, we’ll challenge the idea of what makes a story. We’ll start by reinventing the wheel of inspiration and steal from what we know. During the first two weeks, we’ll pluck characters that already exist—from movies, pop culture, history—to use as springboards for our own inventions. Then, we’ll learn how to use magic. We’ll look at speculative pieces and examine how they plunge us into a different reality. We'll examine the voice and tone that give them their authority. Finally, we’ll experiment with form. From lists to Wikipedia page entries, we’ll learn how to subvert the norms of what a story is supposed to be. This class is designed for beginners or more seasoned writers looking to break through writer’s block. Classes will feature a combination of craft lectures, discussion of assigned reading, and generative writing assignments. There will also be short readings and exercises to complete at home, taking 1- 3 hours. You will be encouraged to share work and receive on-the-spot verbal instructor and peer feedback. Two short reading assignments will be emailed prior to the first class. Limited to 10 writers.
For: Beginners and more seasoned writers looking to break through writer's block.
WHEN: 4 Weeks: Wednesdays, Nov, 1 - 29 (6 - 8pm EST) (No class on 11/22)
WHERE: Online, via Zoom video conference
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
LEONORA DESAR's fiction has appeared in places such as River Styx, Passages North, The Cincinnati Review, Black Warrior Review, and Columbia Journal, where she was chosen as a finalist by Ottessa Moshfegh. She has been selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019 and 2021, Best Microfiction 2019, 2020, 2021, and the Wigleaf Top 50 (2019, 2020, 2021). She was a runner-up/finalist in Quarter After Eight’s Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest, judged by Stuart Dybek, and Crazyhorse’s Crazyshorts! contest. Her journalism has appeared in Psychology Today, WomansDay.com, Parenting magazine, WomansDay.com, Business Insider, and others. She holds an MFA in fiction from NYU, where she taught creative writing, and an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
- Complete an array of writing prompts designed to tap into the imagination
- Use characters and stories already in existence to create something original
- Write surrealism and magic in an authoritative way
- Draft a story using an untraditional structure, such as a list
WEEK ONE - AFTER THE CREDITS ROLL
It’s always frustrating when one of our favorite books or films end, or a favorite TV show is cancelled. What happens next, we want to know. While we can’t know—that is, we can’t know what the show-runners would have done—we can make it up ourselves. We’ll look at short pieces that create a second life for beloved characters. Then we’ll write our own.
WEEK TWO - BEING AMELIA EARHART
Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific. She is presumed dead. But is she? In our fiction, we can reanimate characters from history and give them voice. We can solve mysteries and bring people back to life and give them unexpected interiority. (Is Marilyn Monroe an introvert? What really happened when Natalie Wood tipped over on that boat? What would happen if you cloned a dictator and he turned out…kind?) We’ll pluck figures from history and give them a new life.
WEEK THREE - MAGIC AND THE MUNDANE
A superhero with a shitty day job. An ordinary family...and a goldfish who slips out of his bowl to try on slippers. We’ll learn how to blend the banal with the surreal, making the familiar ring more true. We’ll also examine the casual, matter-of-fact way that speculative writers approach magic—yup, this goldfish is wearing footwear, no biggie—and adopt it for ourselves.
WEEK FOUR - EXPERIMENTING WITH FORM
Beginnings are intimidating. So are middles. By varying our form and challenging our idea of what makes a story, we can unstick. Stories don’t have to be straight-up prose: they can be to-do lists (that don’t get done), Google search histories (that you may want to delete), your very own Wikipedia page from the year 2043. This week, we’ll learn how experimentation can create stories as rich and resonant as any traditional narrative.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 a full refund (minus automatically-deducted 4% service charge we must pay Square). If you withdraw from a workshop nine days before the start of the class up until 48 hours before: You'll receive a refund minus 20%. 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 refund. In the case of medical emergency, please contact us directly and this will be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are absent on the day of your workshop or miss it for any reason, we are unable to offer any kind of refund or credit. However, if we have to cancel a class you have paid for, you will receive a full refund, without the service charge deducted, or if you choose, 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 will automatically receive credit, which will automatically receive credit. Please contact Joy (email@example.com) for all matters concerning credit and refunds.