The Craft of the Unputdownable Story: How to Grab a Reader’s Attention and Keep It with Stefan Merrill Block
Friday - Sunday 1:00 pm EDT - 2:30 pm EDT November 12 to November 14, 2021
Online via Zoom
Whether it’s literary fiction, a genre novel, or nonfiction, a story’s ability to find a readership comes down to a single essential question: do readers feel that they need to keep turning its pages? In this three-session bootcamp, participants will explore techniques to seize and hold the reader’s precious attention like naturally cultivating suspense, raising stakes and escalating conflict, crafting compelling and sympathetic characters, keeping language urgent and active, and structuring a story in the most dramatic way possible. As part of this discussion, participants will dissect several published stories and consider how they might apply learned lessons to their own projects. This bootcamp is perfect for writers who are trying to revise their work for maximum effect, and also for writers who are just at the start of a project and considering how to give shape to an idea or story.
Stefan Merrill Block
Stefan Merrill Block
Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Plano, Texas. His first book, The Story of Forgetting, was an international bestseller and the winner of Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, The Ovid Prize from the Romanian Writer’s Union, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre, and The Center for Fiction. Following the publication of his second novel, The Storm at the Door, Stefan was awarded The University of Texas Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, as well as residencies at The Santa Maddalena Foundation and Castello Malaspina di Fosdinovo in Italy. Stefan’s stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker Page-Turner, the Guardian, NPR’s Radiolab, GRANTA, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Stefan’s third novel, Oliver Loving, was released in 2018 by Macmillan/Flatiron Books, and is being developed for television by Participant Media. He lives in Brooklyn.
By Stefan Merrill Block
By Stefan Merrill Block
Published by Flatiron Books
A family in crisis, a town torn apart, and the boy who holds the secret has been cocooned in a coma for ten years.
One warm, West Texas November night, a shy boy named Oliver Loving joins his classmates at Bliss County Day School’s annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, an enigmatic Junior named Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music plays, a troubled young man sneaks in through the school’s back door. The dire choices this man makes that evening—and the unspoken story he carries—will tear the town of Bliss, Texas apart.
Nearly ten years later, Oliver Loving still lies wordless and paralyzed at Crockett State Assisted Care Facility, the fate of his mind unclear. Orbiting the stillpoint of Oliver’s hospital bed is a family transformed: Oliver’s mother, Eve, who keeps desperate vigil; Oliver’s brother, Charlie, who has fled for New York City only to discover he cannot escape the gravity of his shattered family; Oliver’s father, Jed, who tries to erase his memories with bourbon. And then there is Rebekkah Sterling, Oliver’s teenage love, who left Texas long ago and still refuses to speak about her own part in that tragic night.
When a new medical test promises a key to unlock Oliver’s trapped mind, the town’s unanswered questions resurface with new urgency, as Oliver’s doctors and his family fight for a way for Oliver to finally communicate—and so also to tell the truth of what really happened that fateful night.
A moving meditation on the transformative power of grief and love, a slyly affectionate look at the idiosyncrasies of family, and an emotionally-charged page-turner, Stefan Merrill Block’s Oliver Loving is an extraordinarily original novel that ventures into the unknowable and returns with the most fundamental truths.
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.
Beyond the Tropes: Family Secrets and Burdens in Speculative Fiction with Marc Abbott (Online Only)
3 Monthly Sessions Sundays, 1:00 pm EDT - 2:30 pm EDT October 24 to December 19, 2021
Structuring Your Story: Shaping Fiction with Julia Phillips — Sold Out$395
Once a week Thursdays, 7:30 pm EDT - 9:30 pm EDT October 28 to December 9, 2021
Prose Translation Studio with Daniel Hahn$395
Once a week Thursdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 9:00 pm EDT October 28 to December 9, 2021
KidsWriting Genre Workshops: Fall 2021
Saturday, 11:30 am EDT - 1:00 pm EDT October 30, 2021
Reading Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick with Sheridan Hay (Online Only) — Sold Out
Once a week Wednesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT November 3 to December 22, 2021
Creating Audio Fiction and Nonfiction with C.J. Farley and Ann Heppermann$125
Thursday & Friday 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT November 4 to November 5, 2021
Crafting Personal Narratives with Zaina Arafat$125
Monday & Tuesday 7:00 pm EDT - 9:15 pm EDT November 8 to November 9, 2021
The Hardest Part: Writing Beginnings and Endings with Joe Wilkins$125
Monday & Tuesday 5:00 pm EDT - 7:15 pm EDT November 22 to November 23, 2021