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Writing Workshops

Surgery on the Sentence Level with Omer Friedlander


2 Sessions

Out of stock

Saturday & Sunday 12:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT September 30 to October 1, 2023

Online via Zoom

You’ve been told this story begins too late. Well, where should it begin and what does that new first paragraph look like? You’ve been told that the pacing is too slow in the middle section of your novel; how do you speed things up? We will get down to the difficult business of tearing open your story, moving things around, and patching it up again. We will also discuss the revision process more broadly by reading interviews with published writers and learning from their routines, techniques, and craft tricks.

Course Overview

In this class, students will bring in drafts of their own work-in-progress for a live workshop edit. We will focus on the prose: the paragraph, the sentence, the word, the letter, the phoneme. We will talk about the speeds and flows of narrative time (scene, summary, gap), as well as the texture of language, voice, rhythm, and musicality, among other things. We’ll discuss the kind of feedback you get in workshop and how to tackle it on the page.

Course Outline
  • Day 1: Close reading of multiple drafts and versions of stories and novel extracts by Carver, Nabokov, Franzen. We will compare the different drafts and see what has been improved and how it was done. Students share a paragraph or page of their own work-in-progress. For example, everyone shares a scene they are struggling with or everyone shares a passage of description and we work line-by-line, helping to shape it and craft it in a workshop-style live edit.
  • Day 2: Close reading of extracts from short stories and novels, including Jhumpa Lahiri, Claire Keegan, Ocean Vuong, Truman Capote, and many more. We will read these passages closely and examine them on the sentence level. What is working here and why? Students share a paragraph or page of their own work-in-progress and we will do a live edit. This time, they bring in a passage that is especially tricky along with (if they have it) a workshop critique they have received. For example, ‘this passage feels too slow’ or ‘you need more interiority.’ We will try to tackle the feedback specifically for this passage and see how to address questions raised in workshop. We will read interviews with published writers and talk about strategies for revision, tips and craft tricks, routines, and their approach to working with language. Students share a paragraph or page of their own work-in-progress, and we will do a live edit. Ideally, all of the students will bring in their work and get at least one edit session over the course of the three-day intensive.

Capacity: 20

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  • Omer Friedlander Author Photo - Omer Friedlander

    Omer Friedlander

    Omer Friedlander

    Omer Friedlander was born in Jerusalem in 1994 and grew up in Tel-Aviv. He is the author of the short story collection The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land, winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries Fiction Award and a finalist for the Wingate Prize. The book was chosen as a Sophie Brody Medal Honor Book and longlisted for the Story Prize. Omer has a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and an MFA from Boston University, where he was supported by the Saul Bellow Fellowship. He was a Starworks Fellow in Fiction at New York University. His collection has been translated into several languages, including Turkish, Dutch, and Italian. His writing has been supported by the Bread Loaf Fellowship and Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. He is currently teaching Creative Writing at the MFA program at Columbia University.