“Fiction in a Flash!”
Experience writing short short stories, also known as sudden fiction or flash fiction, by writing works that tell a story in 500 words or less. Flash readings, prompts, and feedback are included as we write together.
Caroline Bock’s debut short story collection, Carry Her Home, won the 2018 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize and will be published in the fall of 2018. She is the author of the young adult novels Lies (2011) and Before My Eyes (2014). She won the 2016 Writer Magazine short story prize, judged by Colum McCann, for “Gargoyles and Stars.” Her short stories have been published or are forthcoming in Akashic Books, Delmarva Review, Fiction Southeast, Gargoyle, 100 Word Story, and Vestal Review, as well as several anthologies. In 2018, she was awarded a Scholars & Artists Projects Grant from the Montgomery County Arts & Humanities Council. Currently a lecturer in the English Department at Marymount University, she is working on a new novel set in 2009. She lives in Maryland. More at www.carolinebock.com.
“Point of View”
Point of view is arguably the most intuitive, and yet the most misunderstood element of fiction writing. Consider this scenario: an altercation occurs after a minor collision at a busy intersection. How does the story change when viewed through the eyes of the guilty driver, or the police officer called to the scene, or the Labrador Retriever who seizes the opportunity to chew through the arm rest in the back seat? In this workshop—intended for writers working at all levels—we will run through a series of guided prompts designed both to help participants understand the basic elements of point of view, as well as how to pump energy into an already completed work.
Susan Coll is the author of The Stager (2014), selected as a New York Times and Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice. She is also the author of the novels Beach Week (2010), Acceptance (2007), Rockville Pike (2005), and karlmarx.com (2001). Acceptance was made into a television movie starring Joan Cusack in 2009. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, NPR.org, atlantic.com, and The Millions. She was the Events and Program Director at Politics & Prose Bookstore for five years.
“Exploring the Divide”
The line between fiction and non-fiction can be porous. What is the best way to use your material? In this workshop, we will consider your projects—excerpts, summaries, even book ideas—and focus on this divide. On the non-fiction side, we can focus on journalism, history, memoir, and as-told-to memoirs. On the fiction side, we can focus on short stories and novels of all sorts. Is your project a tell-all memoir or a novel, a history or historical fiction? Should you think of shifting genres? Let’s hash it out.
Paul Goldberg’s second novel The Châteauwas published in February 2018. His debut novel, The Yid, appeared in 2016 to wide acclaim; it was a finalist for both the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the National Jewish Book Award’s Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction. As a reporter, he has written two books about the Soviet human rights movement, and is the co-author (with Otis Brawley) of How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (2012). He is the editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, which focuses on the business and politics of cancer. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Washington Monthly; and he has been featured on 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN, and NPR.
“Fiction as an Alternative Life: Getting Started and Moving On”
This workshop will explore strategies for beginning and ending a piece of fiction and sustaining the lively middle road.
Patricia Griffith is the author of four novels. The third, The World Around Midnight (1991), was named one of the 30 Outstanding Books of the Year by the American Library Association. Her short stories have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, The Washingtonian, and elsewhere; two of her stories have been included in the O. Henry Prize Stories. She has had her plays produced in New York and in Dallas and has also written for the film industry. Her stories and essays have appeared in Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About Race (1996) and in Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America (2003). A film of her story “Nights at O’Rear’s,” about a Texas car ghop, was shown at the 1980 New York Film Festival. Until recently, she was an associate professor at George Washington University, where she taught Creative Writing and Contemporary Drama. She was a founding member of the Writer’s Center in Bethesda and taught there for eight years. She is a former president and current board member of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. She is currently working on a novel, set in East Texas in the 1930s.
“Checking Your Pulse: Learning to Write the Memoir
E. Ethelbert Miller
Do you have ideas for writing a memoir flowing inside you? Well, maybe it’s time to check your pulse. This workshop will be the equivalent of a checkup. How does one begin to tell one’s tale? What fears and obstacles must writers overcome before embracing creative non-fiction? What memoirs should one read? What happens when secrets are shared beyond the household?
E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer, literary activist, and the author of several collections of poems and two memoirs, Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (2000) and The 5th Inning (2009). He is a 2015 inductee of the Washington, DC, Hall of Fame and recipient of the 20!6 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 Mayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller (2016) is a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his career as a poet. His most recent book of poetry is If God Invented Baseball (2018).
“Crafting the Lede”
What elements go into the writing of powerful first paragraphs? What kinds of ledes hook readers and why? (And why do journalists spell lede that way, anyway?) We will analyze strong examples from narrative long-form pieces and personal essays; workshop participants will also write their own ledes.
Margaret Talbot has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003, and was formerly a Contributing Writer at The New York Times Magazine and Executive Editor of The New Republic. Her articles and essays have appeared in National Geographic, More, The Atlantic, and Salon, and have been anthologized in collections including The Best of the Best American Science Writing and The Art of the Essay. She is a recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and was a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. Her memoir/biography of her father, stage and screen actor Lyle Talbot, and his times, The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century (2012), was praised by Elizabeth Gilbert as “wonderful, loving, beautifully researched and touching” and “a gift and a treasure—and a top-notch documentation of Hollywood history, besides.”