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Once a week Saturdays, 12:00 pm EST - 2:00 pm EST January 14 to February 4, 2023
Online via Zoom
Registration for this workshop has closed.
A narrator is the eye through which we see the world of a story. Through this eye we view the characters, understanding their motivations, conflicts, and choices from the narrator’s unique point of view. A shift in narrator will shift our perception of the story itself. So how do we choose this lens through which our readers will perceive the world we have created? Which point of view feels most appropriate, and why? And what, in all this, do our characters have to do with it? In this workshop, we will use these questions to guide the choices we make with our lens and to examine how a deeper understanding of our characters can help us make these choices. Through a combination of close reading exercises, writing prompts, and sharing our own work, we will explore the many ways in which character and point of view collide to make meaning on the page.
- Session 1: The “I” as the “Eye”: Why choose first person?
- Session 2: The One or the Many? Close third v. third person omniscient
- Session 3: All About You: When second person can work (and when it might not)
- Session 4: A Chorus of Voices: The collective “we”
Erin Swan is the author of the speculative novel Walk the Vanished Earth (Viking 2022), a family saga spanning two hundred years, two planets, and seven generations. Her stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Portland Review, the South Carolina Review, and Inkwell Journal. A graduate of Teachers College at Columbia University and the MFA program at The New School, she lives in Brooklyn and teaches English at a public high school in lower Manhattan.
By Erin Swan
Walk the Vanished Earth
By Erin Swan
Published by Penguin
The year is 1873, and a bison hunter named Samson travels the Kansas plains, full of hope for his new country. The year is 1975, and an adolescent girl named Bea walks those very same plains; pregnant, mute, and raised in extreme seclusion, she lands in an institution, where a well-meaning psychiatrist struggles to decipher the pictures she draws of her past. The year is 2027 and, after a series of devastating storms, a tenacious engineer named Paul has left behind his banal suburban existence to build a floating city above the drowned streets that were once New Orleans. There with his poet daughter he rules over a society of dreamers and vagabonds who salvage vintage dresses, ferment rotgut wine out of fruit, paint murals on the ceiling of the Superdome, and try to write the story of their existence. The year is 2073, and Moon has heard only stories of the blue planet—Earth, as they once called it, now succumbed entirely to water. Now that Moon has come of age, she could become a mother if she wanted to–if only she understood what a mother is. Alone on Mars with her two alien uncles, she must decide whether to continue her family line and repopulate humanity on a new planet.
A sweeping family epic, told over seven generations, as America changes and so does its dream, Walk the Vanished Earth explores ancestry, legacy, motherhood, the trauma we inherit, and the power of connection in the face of our planet’s imminent collapse. This is a story about the end of the world—but it is also about the beginning of something entirely new. Thoughtful, warm, and wildly prescient, this work of bright imagination promises that, no matter what the future looks like, there is always room for hope.
About this series
We strive to make our classes the most inviting and rewarding available, offering an intimate environment to study with award-winning, world-class writers. Each class is specially designed by the instructor, so whether you’re a fledgling writer or an MFA graduate polishing your novel, you’ll find a perfect fit here.
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