Skip to Content

Writing Workshops

Intimacy & Irony: Engineering Distance via the Close-Third with Jakob Guanzon


2 Sessions

In stock

Saturday & Sunday 5:00 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT May 11 to May 12, 2024

Online via Zoom

Perspective. It’s all that separates horror from hilarity, really. Then again, the inextricable nature of such opposites is often the crux of the most moving and human stories ever told, and, in turn, of those we (ought to) aspire to write.

This tension is inherent to the close-third person perspective, which—when handled just right—can charge the mere aperture to a narrative with combustive potency well before an inciting incident. Such dynamism and versatility are pretty tricky to wield, much less to master, but we can start by stealing some tricks from the pros before us.

In this workshop, we’ll laser in on the free indirect style, both studying and experimenting with tactics that can embody the cozy snark of a first-person confidant before zooming out to near-omniscient altitudes. The course will consist of brief lectures on the why and how of the close third, interactive readings, in-class exercises, and an optional assignment for further feedback.

Course Outline
  • Session I
    • Introductions
    • Lecture & discussion: Why the close third?
    • Definitions, implementations & effects
    • In-class reading: “The School” by Donald Barthelme
    • In-class exercise based on reading and follow-up discussion
  • Session II
    • Lecture: Axis of irony – a visualization of the breadth of close-third modes
    • Plot student samples on the axis, discussion of varying degrees of irony & intimacy via POV
    • Back-to-back exercises: writing the same scene from diametrically opposed modes of close third
    • Share and discuss
    • Conclusion

Led by

  • Guanzon-headshot-(high-res)---Jakob-Guanzon

    Jakob Guanzon

    Jakob Guanzon

    Jakob Guanzon is the author of Abundance, which was longlisted for both the National Book Award and the Aspen Words Literary Prize in 2021, and has been translated into multiple languages. His shorter works have appeared in BOMB, the New York Times, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Columbia University, and has since taught as part of the Zell Visiting Writers Series at the University of Michigan. He lives in Harlem.